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The Postmodern Catholic

Unit I Notes Religious Traditions

College Recommendations Guidelines
Sacred Paths
Homeworks and Outline: Sacred Paths
Reading Guide Questions Taoism 211-218
Reading Guide Questions Taoism
Homeworks: and Outline: Introduction to Catholicism
Unit IV Moses Reluctant Hero
Unit III God's Imperfect Instruments
Unit III God's Chosen Ones
The Mass, Vestements, and Sacred Vessels
Unit III The Sacraments
Iona Prep Interfaith Society
Islam Notes

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  1. What is the nature of the human condition?


n      Existentialism - branch of philosophy that  deals with the nature of the human condition

n      Why do we do the things we do?

n      Where did we come from?

n      are we good/evil or both:  

n      Adam and Eve  

n      free will (Judaism, Christianity, Islam)

n      We fear change (Buddhism)

n      We are too egotisitical (Hinduism) EGO:

n      We are a part of nature (Lakota, Taoism)


  1. Do we need salvation?


n      From what?

n      when? 

n      By whom?

n      Soteriology - the study of a religion’s salvific traditions


  1. What is our destiny?


n      Afterlife    

n      heaven/hell  

n      reincarnation   

n      transmigration

n      purgatory

n      Limbo

n      Nirvana

n      Moksha

n      Spirit Path (Milky Way)


  1. What is the nature of the world?


n      Cosmology - the study of the nature of the universe   

n      myths-symbolic stories developed in the oral traditions that contain spiritual truths

n      Etiology-myths that teach the cause of something

n      clash between science and religion

n      monism and sub-quarks

n      electricity and the life-force


  1. What is Good or Bad?


n      ethics 

n      10 Commandments: DECALOGUE…Judaism (Torah)

n      Beatitudes: Christianity

n      Five Precepts: Buddhism

n      Five Pillars: Islam

n      wu-wei: Taoism


6. What is Real?


n      Reality: sense-experience  

n      the Divine (personal God or Impersonal Essence) is seen as the ultimate expression of reality

n      Theist- believes in the existence of a personal god

n      Polytheist -- many gods

n      dualist- two gods of equal power in opposition…Zoroastrianism

n      pantheist --god exists in everything and everywhere

n      monotheist -- one god

n      henotheist -- many gods do exist but one’s own god is superior  

n      Atheist- does not believe in the existence of a personal god or an impersonal supreme Reality

n      Agnostic- does not believe that the existence of god can be proven, therefore they do not concern themselves

n      Non-theist- believes in the existence of an impersonal supreme Reality, but not a personal god

n      monism-all reality is one essence


B. The Basic Elements (exoteric)


  1. The Religious Experience

-overhaul of the psyche (CG Jung)

-peak moment of unity, timelessness, spacelessness, etc. (A Maslow)

-all religions begin w/ one person’s story about their experiences/beliefs/behaviors, etc.


The Buddha


n      Siddhartha Gautama

n      Born in No. India…prince who lived a life of luxury b/c his father tried to shield him from suffering

n      “Great Going Forth” >

n      “Four Passing Sights”

n      Asceticism: rejection of physical luxuries in order to achieve spiritual enlightenment

n      Middle Way

n      “3 Temptations”

n      “Nirvana”

The Christ

n      Y’shua bar Yousef…son of an artisan…born in Palestine

n      Raised in the Jewish tradition, influenced by Greeks, Romans, and Syrians

n      Left his family at 30…rejection

n      Ascetic life w/ Yohannan in the Judean desert

n      Baptism>Desert>3 Temptations




n      RC Tradition…cousins

n      Orthodox Churches…1/2 brothers

n      Protestant groups…blood brothers



n       Mt. Sinai…Moses

n      Cave…Muhammad

n      On a path…Saul

n      Sleeping in the desert…Jacob


2. Religious Teachings


n      creeds - statements of belief

n      Nicene Creed

n      codes - guidelines for behavior

n      Decalogue

n      Five Precepts

n      doctrines (dogma)-official teachings from a hierarchy

n      Cathecism


3. Sacred Texts


n      Hinduism: 

n      Vedas…(oldest text)

n      Upanishads…

n      Mahabharata (Bhagavad Gita)…

n      Kama Sutra

n      Christianity: Bible

n      Judaism: Tanakh

                        “T” = Torah: Pentateuch

       “N” = Nevi'im: the prophetic books  

       “K” = Kethuvim:   the        writings

n      Islam: Koran, Quran

n      Taoism: Tao Te Ching

n      Buddhism: The Sutras


4. Rituals


n      Ceremonies that re-enact a founder’s experiences or earlier myths

n      Eucharist

n      Baptism

n      Circumcision


5. Community

n      Congregation

n      Leaders

n      Holy Persons


n      Roman Catholic Church: Pope     

n      Anglican Church: Archbishop of Canterbury   

n      Greek Orthodox: Patriarch of                                                                         Constantinople

n      Tibetan Buddhism: Dalai Lama       

n      Judaism: rabbi

n      Muslim prayer leader: imam

n      Lakota: wicasa wakan “holy man”


Holy Persons


n      Christianity: saint, martyr, mystic


n      Buddhism: bodhisattva, arhat


n      Taoism: sage


n      Hinduism: guru


6. Sacred Space


n      Places of worship

n      Mosque (Islam)

n      Synagogue (Judaism)

n      Temple (Hinduism, Buddhism)

n      Church, chapel, basilica, cathedral (Christianity)

n      Shrines (several)

n      Holy Land

n      Jerusalem                                 -Sinai  

n      Mecca                          -Giza

n      Lhasa, Tibet                

n      Stonehedge

n      Black Hills

n      Water

n      Jordan

n      Ganges

 Homeworks and Outline: Sacred Paths

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D. “The more I am able to affirm others, to say ‘yes” to them in myself, by discovering them in myself and myself in them, the more real I am. I am fully real if my own heart says yes to everyone” Thomas Merton