Understanding Jainism through Art

"Teerthanker Jina" by Jain cloud via Wikimedia Commons -

Next week, I begin a short unit on Jainism. Two museums with online exhibits provide students with an excellent introduction.One is the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the other is the Rubin Museum in New York City. That exhibit has closed but students can still see images from the exhibit in a New York Times slideshow.  Students can also read a good review of the show from the New York Times.The Victoria and Albert Museum has tons of information about Jainism, from short article … [Read more...]

Breaking down Cultural Barriers with Education


Terrorism has increased intolerance and even bigotry. A Sikh man was beaten by two men in Fresno, California last week. The assailants thought he was a Muslim. And a number of Muslim mosques have been vandalized in different parts of the country.Some educators are trying to bridge this cultural divide. Two new programs that incorporate social media attempt to put together students from different cultures.One is called FaithBoxEd and the other is called CulutreBoxEd.FaithBoxed, … [Read more...]

Why Teach Religion in Public Schools


The recent controversy over the closing of schools in Virginia's Augusta County over a world history lesson about Islam reminds us why it is so important to teach about religion today.Stephen Prothero, the religious scholar and professor, argues that a basic understanding of world religions is a matter of "urgent citizenship.'"He  notes, for example, that we all need some Biblical literacy because the two American political parties often speak the language of Christianity. Likewise, he be … [Read more...]

Making Mandalas


Today, my students made personal Buddhist mandalas. You can see two samples above.A mandala is a Hindu or Buddhist symbol in the shape of a circle. Monks make them out of sand. The symbols represent deities.The monks destroy the mandala soon after they complete it, demonstrating the impermanence of life.“According to Buddhist scripture, ” notes the Freer Sackler Museum, "sand mandalas transmit positive energies to the environment and to the people who view them." While constructing a … [Read more...]

Is that Really the Bible?


Watch what happens when people think they are hearing passages from the Quran, but it's really the Bible. … [Read more...]

Hanukkah: Resources

"Menorah 0307" by ariely - Wikipedia Commons

Here are some good resources for the eight day Jewish festival that began today and ends on December 14.What Is Hanukkah? Facts, History Of The Menorah And The Story Behind The Jewish Tradition, from the International Business Times What Is Hanukkah? from Chabad Hanukkah 101 – Basic Information, from Our Jewish community The First Night of Hanukkah: Here’s What You Need To Know, from Time Magazine 10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Chanukkah, from the Washington Post's On Fait … [Read more...]

Do Religions Promote Terrorism?

Wikipedia Commons

Here's a thoughtful and interesting argument about the role of religion in terrorism by one of my World Religions students.He argues that "religions do not promote terrorism, but that human beings do promote it."He suggested that terrorists who kill in the name of religion do not represent any religion that stresses love and compassion.  The religion of the Paris terrorists or the fundamental Buddhists in Myanmar or the Boko Haram in Nigeria  do not reflect the theology of Muhammad, or th … [Read more...]