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The Postmodern Catholic

Reading Guide Questions

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

The following questions below will guide students through the assigned reading pages and prepare them for quizzes from Huston Smith's The World's Religions.




  1. Who coined the term harijan and what does it mean?
  2. What book does Gandhi identify as par excellence for seeking knowledge of the Truth?
  3. Describe the two paths of desire.
  4. Describe the two paths of renunciation.
  5. What are the four things that people want?  Why isn't achieving kama enough?
  6. What is Atman-Brahman?
  7. What does the word stricture mean? (look it up)
  8. What are the three basic limitations or imperfections of humans?
  9. What are the three strictures of joy?
  10. How does Hinduism propose humans free themselves of the three basic limitations or imperfections?

Hinduism: Pages 29-50


1.  Name and describe the Four Ways (Yogas) to God.

Include in your answers basic method (practice), assumptions, and insights into God


2.  What yoga path would Hindus consider Christianity and why?


3.  How would a raja Yogi describe Jesus' experience and teachings?


Hinduism: pp. 50-63


1. Identify and describe the four stages of life according to Hindu belief.


2.  According to the text, how do the unwise view death?  How do you think death is viewed in popular American culture?


3.  What are the possible causes for the rise of the caste system in India?


4.  Identify and describe the four castes of Indian society.


5.  Who is referred to as the Thomas Aquinas of Hinduism?  What famous prayer is he known for?  How does this parallel the Christian mystic teachings?


6.  Identify and describe the key differences between Saguna Brahman and Nirguna Brahma?


7.  What metaphor is used to describe God's relationship to the world? What three descriptions of this relationship are given?


Hinduism pp. 63-75


1.  What is the Hindu name for the soul?


2.  Describe how the Law of Karma acts as a personal moral ethic.


3..Identify and discuss the nucleus of the human soul.


4. Describe the fable of the KalpaturaTree.


5.  How does the story summerize the soul's "coming of age" in the universe.


6.  What is meant by referring to this world as a middling world? How does this view of the world view social, economic, and political progress?  How do such views of progress misjudge the purpose of this world.  What is the purpose of the world, according to Hinduism?


7.  How does Hinduism view other religions regarding their legitimacy as paths to God? 





  1. What does the term "Buddha" literally mean?
  2. When and where was Siddhartha Gautama born?
  3. What prophetic insights were told to Siddhartha's father?
  4. How did these insights influence Siddhartha's early years?
  5. What is asceticism?
  6. From which religion did Buddhism grow?
  7. What are the six points that illustrate the Buddha as a rebel? 
  8. To what was the Buddha reacting?
  9. What are the seven characteristics of Buddhism according to Huston Smith?
  10. How is Buddhism an egalitarian religion?


TAOISM: pp 197-220


  1. When and where was Lao Tzu born?
  2. What are some of the legends surrounding his birth and life?
  3. What is Taoism's sacred text and what is the titles translation?
  4. Identify the three aspects of the Tao.
  5. What are the three types of power in relation to the different forms of Taoism?
  6. What is a paradox?
  7. What do you think Lao Tzu meant by "Those who know don't say and those who say don't know."
  8. What is the wu-wei?
  9. Why do Taoists see competition as destructive?
  10.  What is the yin-yang and what does it represent?

JUDAISM: pp. 271-288

  1. What fraction of Western civilization bears the marks of its Jewish ancestry?
  2. Being that the early Hebrews were a nomadic group who settled in a land 1/8 the size of Illinois, what lifted them from obscurity to permanent religious greatness?
  3. In what was the Jewish quest for meaning rooted?
  4. What do the terms prosaic and anthropomorphic mean?(look them up)
  5. What made the god of the Hebrews so different from the gods of the other Meditarranean peoples?
  6. What makes Judaism’s approach to nature slightly different than Taoism’s approach?
  7. From what root meaning does the term sin originate?
  8. For Jews, what was the arena of God’s purposive activity?
  9. Jews believe that Yahweh’s (YHWH) hand was at work in every historical event in order to shape what type of experiences?
  10. What are the four danger zones emphasized in the Decalogue (Ten Commandments)?

ISLAM: pp. 242 - 257 (The Five Pillars - Sufism)

  1. What did Allah reveal through…Abraham? Moses? Jesus?
  2. What exactly is the Shahadah?
  3. At what points during the day are Muslims required to pray?
  4. Give two historical events for the origins of Ramadan.
  5. What is primogeniture and why does the Koran forbid it?
  6. According to the Koran, what ultimate power do women have when it comes to marriage?
  7. Identify three instances that the Koran mentions when polygyny (polygamy) is permissible.
  8. What happened to Malcolm X when he made his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1964?
  9. Identify the expression from the Koran (2:257) that regulates preaching and conversion.
  10. What was Muhammad referring to when he spoke of the lesser jihad and the greater jihad?

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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