Shinto Resources

Teaching Shinto, the ancient religion of Japan? Here are some very short clips that help explain it.The first is a basic overview from Khan academy and runs about four minutes. The second clip explains the three types of kami, or gods. These include ancestors, spirits, and souls of great people, all of whom coexist with us in the natural world. The third clip explains the importance of the torii gate and the Shinto shrine. And finally, a professor explains the… Read more

The Christmas Message That All Faiths Believe In

The Christmas Message That All Faiths Believe in In the guest post below, Waqar Ahmedi notes that Jesus’ message, “love thy neighbor” is one “promoted by all the religious founders.” Waqar Ahmedi  is a Religious Education specialist and consultant. Presently he teaches at one of the top grammar schools in the country in Birmingham, UK. He has several years of experience as a head of department, and of being an A level and GCSE Religious Studies examiner. He is also a textbook author…. Read more

Students Tackling Hate Speech

Last week, my World Religion students discussed human rights and hate speech with their peers in Ukraine. It was fascinating to hear the perspective of the Ukrainian students who told us that most instances of hate speech in their country centered around religion. I think that surprised my students because hate speech in America not only involves religion but politics and race too. And it was interesting to hear their stereotype of American hate speech. They wondered why there was so… Read more

Teaching Native American Religions

Freedom of religion court cases are a good way to teach students about Native American spirituality. For example, the 2012 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to allow the Northern Arapaho Tribe to kill two bald eagles for religious use allowed me to discuss the importance of tribal rituals and how they are colliding with conservationists today. Students read this NPR story about the decision, summarized the issues on paper, and then debated the two sides. Many conservationists… Read more

Happy Birthday Ganesha! Resources

Today Hindus across India and elsewhere are celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi, one of the most sacred Hindu festivals. It celebrates the birth of the elephant god, Lord Ganesha, the supreme god of wisdom and prosperity. Lord Ganesha is one of the most popular Hindu gods and is known as both the creator and remover of obstacles. The festival for Lord Ganesha includes millions of clay statues of the god. You can see how the statues are made in the short clip… Read more

Religious Holidays: Resources

Teaching religious festivals or holidays? The NYC Department of Education has terrific resource guides for the Hindu festival, Diwali, the Muslim festivals Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, and the Asian Lunar New Year. Each guide includes images, background, and sample lessons. In the Asian Lunar Resource Guide for example, students read the legend of earth cakes and sky cakes and analyze its importance to Tết celebrations. The guide for the Muslim festivals includes images and texts that students can analyze to… Read more

A New Paradigm for Teaching Religion

Should we teach world religions as distinct entities, each with its own traditions and scriptures? That’s how I’ve taught my World Religions elective course for the last five years. I begin with a short unit on indigenous religions, then move on to the eastern religions, first Hinduism, then Buddhism. In the spring, we tackle each of the Abrahamic religions. A host of new scholars are challenging this traditional method. They argue that we should change this paradigm where each religion… Read more

Pilgrimage to Mecca in 21st Century: NY Times Clip

Here’s an excellent clip, along with a terrific story from the New York Times about the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca during umrah, a minor pilgrimage that can be made anytime during the year. A New York Times photographer got permission from the Saudi government to film the pilgrimage and write about it.  The clip shows how consumerism and religion exist side by side in the 21st century. The story  reviews the transformation of the pilgrimage since the 1970’s  and includes… Read more

Combatting Extremism with DNA

Momondo allows you to discover your genetic past through DNA and learn how connected you might be to others around the world. The project is part of an effort to diminish extremism by showing people from different cultures and religious beliefs how much they have in common.   One Russian woman discovered that she had some Native American  and Japanese blood.  A Muslim woman discovered that she had Jewish blood. Monondo believes that people will want to visit the countries that are… Read more

Prothero’s Crash Courses in World Religions

Stephen Prothero, author of God is not One,  and a a professor in the Department of Religion at Boston University, offers a twelve minute audio introduction to each of the world’s major religions. The series is called World Religions 101 and was produced in 2014 with Interfaith Voices and host, Maureen Fiedler. Prothero outlines the the central problem each religion defines and the solution it offers.  For example, he notes that exile is the problem in Judaism and argues that the solution is… Read more

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