Theory of Religion
In this course we have studied many theories of religion in the modern world, both from people who want to explain what religion does for humans and from people who want to explain how and why it is possible to be religious in the modern world. We have also watched a television show The Leftovers as a kind of “case study” to see what these theories help us see and what they might neglect. In this final essay, you will practice synthesizing these concepts to create your own “theory of religion.” Imagine that The Leftovers is all true – the characters and events really happened. Now imagine that you must create a theory of religion based on the world of The Leftovers. Except all the other theories we have read and all the religious traditions we have studied (Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism) also exist. So your theory must take into consideration those other theories and experiences.
Write an essay that draws on 3-5 texts from our class syllabus to create your own theory of religion based on The Leftovers. Here are a few rules: This exam is open book, meaning you can use all texts while you are writing the exam itself
At least 1 (one) of the texts you choose must come before June 11 on the syllabus
At least 1 (one) of the texts you choose must be written by someone writing within a religious tradition (e.g. Elizabeth Johnson, Omid Safi, or Ayya Khema)
You may argue that The Leftovers demonstrates the truth of someone else’s theory or several other people’s theories of religion, but if you do, make sure to think critically about what those theories might not explain (remember: no one theory is ever successful in explaining everything about religion!). You can use one theory to explain things another theory does not explain and/or you can create your own theory that synthesizes these ideas
or introduces new ideas.
Make sure to discuss if you believe Nora’s story in the last episode. Does it make a difference to your theory of religion if her story is true or not? Why or why not? In other words, if you think we know what happened to the Departed does that give you one theory of religion vs. if we still do NOT know what happened to the Departed? Do NOT consult any outside sources (other books or websites). If you do, you MUST cite them (but really, don’t do it!)
The essay should be at least 1000 words long but no longer than 1500 words
Please cut and paste directly into Blackboard or upload a Word or PDF file (no .pages please!).