Eastern Orthodox Christianity is unfamiliar to most Americans unsure whether Orthodox Christians are Catholics or Protestants. (Correct answer: neither!). In this upper-level undergraduate seminar we shall explore Orthodoxy through both the phenomenological analysis common in the study of comparative religions and a personal encounter with texts, art and symbols, architecture, worship and liturgy, spiritual practices, beliefs, history, persons, and communities. Assignments include a close reading of assigned primary and secondary texts, mini-lectures, vigorous discussions, several writing assignments, and one field trip to a regional Orthodox parish community of the student’s choice to conduct a “participant-observer” study. [No prerequisites] Key questions to consider:
• Who are the Orthodox Christians and what are their demographics in America and elsewhere?
• How is Orthodoxy Christianity similar to and different from other Christian traditions / communities?
• What do they believe about the divine, the universe, the Bible, humanity, human history and destiny, life and death, heaven and hell, good and evil, sin and redemption, saints, and morality?
• What is the meaning and significance of icons?
• How and where do Orthodox Christians pray and worship—and why?
• How, historically, have Orthodox Christians related to the wider society and governments?
• Does the Orthodox experience as a religious minority in some places differ significantly from their experiences as the dominant faith group in other nations and empires?
May 27, 2020