Religion & Philosophy at Lyon College

Throughout the semester the syllabus will be subject to periodic revision. Students should check the syllabus on-line at least once a week.

World Religions Syllabus
RPH 150
TR 9:30-10:45 a.m.
Lyon 206     
Paul Custodio Bube, Ph.D.
Fall 2014
Office Hours: Lyon 321
MWF 9-9:50 a.m.; 1-2:00 p.m.
TR 1:15-2:30 p.m.
or by appointment
Phone: 870-307-7351

E-mail: Click on Mailbox to e-mail professorHH01580A.gif (1311 bytes)


 Glossaries, quizzes, and exams can be found on Educator. Additional materials will be found on the Revealing© World Religions app.

Required Texts:

Cynthia Eller  Revealing© World Religions 5.0. This is an interactive on-line text that students will access by downloading a small app and purchasing the activation code through the Thinking Strings website: The price should be around $80. You will need either a Visa, Mastercard, or PayPal account. You can also e-mail  to make alternative arrangements for payment. Instructions for installing and registering Revealing© World Religions are posted in the announcement section of Educator for this class.

You can read the documentation on getting started at, and the  users guide at Both of these documents can be found in Educator under the Course Materials link. [If you have problems with the app, the fastest way to get help is to go to and fill out the form.]

Additional readings on the Environment and world religions will come from and other sites.


Nature and Purpose of the Course:

What is religion?  Why learn about others' religions? Are all religions just different ways of expressing the same basic insights? How do different religions guide their followers on important ethical issues? Are some religions superior to others?

These questions and others underlie our attempts this semester to understand the history, practices, and beliefs of several of the word's most influential religions. Pardoxically, we will be looking at examples of religion in order to understand what they are examples of; we will learn about various religions in order to understand why we should learn about them; we will treat each religion as being valid and valuable in itself in order to ponder whether it is more or less valid than others.  In other words, our study places us in an continuous loop of exploration. But exploring where the loop goes – its turns and twists – will prove to be rewarding and informative in itself.

For the time being, let's start with a broad assumption: Religion – however we ultimately define it – seems to be an important part of our lives, whether we are personally religious or not. It is impossible to understand any culture in depth without understanding something about its religious heritage. Religion has been playing an increasingly noticeable role in our public life, both in the United States and abroad. Whether we are trying to understand the agenda of the political right in America, or recent events in the Middle East, or even the deeper meanings behind the Twilight and Harry Potter books and films, it is by appreciating the religious sensibilities that underlie them that we better understand them


Course Objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will:


be familiar with representative concepts, theories, and methods in the study of religion


be able identify strengths and weaknesses of diverse positions in major world religions' approaches to a current social issue


be able to engage in basic research about a ritual or festival of one major world religion


work with a group to present information about a ritual or festival of one major world religion 


take steps to integrate faith (broadly construed to include one's philosophy of life) and reason by reflecting on how others’ religious perspectives relate to our own experiences with and/or attitudes toward religion


Students will be expected to complete all reading assignments on time, attend classes, take all exams, respond to the questions in the "Try It" sections of Revealing© World Religions, and write a 600-1000 word essay on the religious issues raised by the movie Gandhi (available in the library). It is important for students to keep in mind that the college requires all students to turn in their own work in accordance with the Lyon College Honor Code. If students have questions about what constitutes plagiarism, they should read the MLA Handbook’s discussion of plagiarism and consult with someone in the writing lab or with me prior to turning in the paper. Students may find it helpful to make an appointment with the someone in the Writing Lab for advice on writing their papers.

CELL PHONES, COMPUTERS, AND OTHER ELECTRONICS: Cell phones should either be turned off or put on silent or vibrate in class. They should be put away and not visible. Texting during class is not permitted. If you are awaiting an emergency call, then you should sit near the class entrance, and when your phone vibrates, you should quietly exit and take your call in the hallway out of earshot our class and other classes. Listening to iPods or other mp3 or similar players is prohibited in class. Violation of these requirements will adversely affect your participation/attendance grade for the class.


Page 114 of the Lyon Catalog states: Students are expected to attend all class periods for the courses in which they are enrolled. They are responsible for conferring with individual professors regarding any missed assignments. Faculty members are to notify the Registrar when a student misses the equivalent of one, two, three, and four weeks of class periods in a single course. Under this policy, there is no distinction between “excused” and “unexcused” absences, except that a student may make up work missed during an excused absence. A reminder of the college’s attendance policy will be issued to the student at one week, a second reminder at two weeks, a warning at three weeks, and notification of administrative withdrawal and the assigning of an “F” grade at four weeks. Students who are administratively withdrawn from more than one course will be placed on probation or suspended (see Academic Probation and Academic Suspension). 

Leading Class Discussions on Religion and Ecology:

Students will be assigned to group of 3-4 students, and on the dates assigned for the ecology reading for each religion(s) covered, will summarize the key points and lead a discussion of at least 30 minutes on the reading.

Presentations on Religious Ritual or Festival:

All students need to sign up for a team to do a class presentation on a religion covered in class ‑ 3-4 students for each religion. Students will research details of a major ritual or festival of the religion in order to demonstrate to the class what that ritual or festival is like. The presentation should be detailed/thorough enough to take at least 35 minutes.  Presentations will be graded as follows:


25% on their accuracy and thoroughness/detail ( including pronunciation, facts, dates, etc.)


25% on creativity (the information goes well beyond what is found in the DVD, and the approach taken to the presentation goes beyond merely summarizing facts and/or paraphrasing sources)


25% for involving the class in the demonstration (this may include interactive discussion, re-enacting a ritual with thec class participating, etc.)


25% for how well the group explains the significance of the ritual or festival for what the religion means (how does this ritual reflect key aspects of this religion?).

PowerPoint presentations and professionally produced video are not allowed. Student-created video, live performances, use of music (live or pre-recorded), are all permitted. The presentation should be accompanied by a one page handout for your classmates summarizing the ritual or festival that includes a short bibliography of sources used. Students must use at least two print sources found in the library.


In keeping with Lyon College policy, students are expected to check their Lyon e-mail accounts daily. This is the primary way professors and college officials have to communicate with you. Students are accountable for information regarding due dates, assignments, exams, etc., that are sent through the Lyon e-mail system.

Extra Credit:

Students may earn up to 3 semester points of extra credit. Various opportunities for extra credit will be discussed in class.


Thirty-seven percent of your grade is made up of objective exams (including the objective portion of the final exam) which cover the readings from Revealing World Religions and material covered in class. Each exam has a due date -- prior to that due date, you may take the exam as often as you like in order to achieve a grade on the exam with which you are satisfied. Please note that the exams must be taken in a manner consistent with the Lyon College Honor Code, without the help of any aids, including notes, on-line resources, the textbooks, friends, etc.  In addition to the objective exams, you will also take several essay exams (worth a total of 25% of your grade) that will raise comparative and analytical questions over the course material. Unlike the objective exams, these exams cannot be taken more than once.

Gandhi Paper:

The paper is a 600-1000 word essay discussing the role of religions in the life of Gandhi as depicted in the movie Gandhi directed by Richard Attenborough (the video is available through our library). The discussion should note which religions are depicted, how they influenced the events in Gandhi's life, and how the depiction of those religions compares to the way they are presented in Revealing World Religions. The essay should be double-spaced in Microsoft Word format, saved in the format of lastname_Gandhi.docx, and e-mailed as a Word document attachment to the professor by the due date indicated below. Because there are a limited number of copies of Gandhi, I recommend that you don't wait until the last minute to view it, because it may not be available to you then.


Although this is a freshman level course with only one paper, I would like you to create electronically (e.g., a folder on your I-drive) a portfolio in which you save your paper and essay exams, as well as any other papers you may do in RPH courses. This will not be graded, but in the event you do take other RPH courses, Dr. Beck and I would like to be able to ‘see’ your progress and I hope you would want to reflect upon your work. Because RPH classes are so ‘holistic’ in their approach to human affairs, we both hope that what you write will be connected to your other academic work and to the choices you make in other dimensions of your lives. Those of you who are considering majoring and minoring in RPH are required to keep a portfolio. Making this a requirement in every class means that those of you who have not yet decided whether to major or minor will have the portfolios on-line and accessible, making it very easy to declare a major or minor (see catalog for requirements).

Grades will be weighted as follows:



Leading Ecology Discussions


Presentations on Ritual/Festival


Progress Reports &Try It Sections from Revealing World Religions (see


Paper on Gandhi


Objective Exams


Essay Exams


Final Objective Exam


Final Essay Exam



 All graded work in this class is to be pledged in accordance with the Lyon College Honor Code. Be sure to write "pledged" on any work submitted.


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Please note: Students seeking reasonable accommodations based on documented learning disabilities should contact the Office of Academic Services at 870-307-7332.

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Course Outline:


Aug. 19

Introduction to Course and Requirements

Aug. 21

Go over ordering a serial number for the Revealing World Religions app and go over Educator

Aug. 26

Finish class tutorial on how to use Revealing© World Religions (you need to have it installed by this time)
Start on "Exploring Religion" module in class

Aug. 28

Complete "Exploring Religion" module online. Note this is due BEFORE class.
Discussion on "Exploring Religion"

Sep. 2-4

Complete "Indigenous Religions" module online. Note this is due BEFORE class.

Read prior to class on Sep. 4

Sep. 6

Objective Exam #1 is due. Go to Educator to take exam. The exam must be completed by 11:59 p.m.

Sep. 9

Complete "Hinduism" module online. Note this is due BEFORE class.

Sep. 9-11

Discussion on Hinduism

Sep. 16

Read prior to class (class discussion led by small group)

Student Presentation on Hinduism ritual/festival

Sep. 16

Objective Exam #2 is due. Go to Educator to take exam. Due by 11:59 p.m.

Sep. 18

Complete "Buddhism" module. Note this is due BEFORE class [We will be watching "The Life of the Buddha" in class from Take notes and compare how the story in the video compares to that in Revealing World Religions.]

Sep. 18

First Essay Exam (found under the "Assignments" link in Educator) is due by midnight, Sept. 19  (e-mail Word document to Dr. Bube)

Sep. 23-25

Discuss Buddhism

Sep. 30

Read prior to class (class discussion led by small group)
Student Presentation on Buddhism ritual/festival

Sep. 30

Objective Exam #3 is due . Go to Educator to take exam. Due by 11:59 p.m.

Oct. 2

Complete "Daoism" module. Note this is due BEFORE class.

Oct. 2

Discussion of Daoism Read excerpt from TAO of POOH found under the Course Materials link in Educator. [Print out and bring to class]

Oct. 7

Complete "Confucianism" module. Note this is due BEFORE class.
Finish Daoism and Begin Discussion Confucianism

Oct. 9-12



Oct. 14

Read and prior to class (class discussion led by small group)
Student Presentation on Daoism & Confucianism ritual/festival

Oct. 14

Objective Exam #4 on Daoism & Confucianism. Go to Educator to take exam. Due by 11:59 p.m.

Oct. 16

Complete "Shinto" module. Note this is due BEFORE class.

Oct 21

Service Day (classes will not meet so that students, faculty, and staff can participate)

Oct. 23

Read prior to class (class discussion led by small group)

Student Presentation on Shinto ritual/festival

Oct. 25

Objective Exam #5 on Shinto. Go to Educator to take exam. Due by 11:59 p.m.

Oct. 26

Note: Second Essay Exam (found under the "Assignments" link in Educator)  is due by 11:59 p.m., Oct. 26 (e-mail Word document to Dr. Bube).

Oct. 28

Complete module on "Judaism" module. Note this is due BEFORE class.

Oct. 28-30

Discussion on Judaism

Nov. 4

Read prior to class (class discussion led by small group)

Student Presentation on Judaism ritual/festival

Nov. 6

Complete module on "Christianity"  Note this is due BEFORE class.

Nov. 6-11

Discussion on Christianity
Read prior to class Nov. 11 (class discussion led by small group)

Nov. 11

Objective Exam #6 on Judaism and Christianity. Go to Educator to take exam. Due by 11:59 p.m.

Nov. 13

Complete module on "Islam" module. Note this is due BEFORE class.

Nov. 13-18

Discussion of Islam

Nov. 20

Read  prior to class (class discussion led by small group)

Student Presentation on Islam ritual/festival

Nov. 25

Complete "Sikhism" module.  Note this is due BEFORE class. 

Nov. 26

Discussion of Sikhism

Nov. 26-30

Thanksgiving Holiday

Dec. 2

Read prior to class (class discussion led by small group)

Student Presentation on Sikhism ritual/festival

Dec. 4

Complete module on "Religious Pluralism" module Note this is due BEFORE class.

Dec. 4

Discussion of Religious Pluralism

Dec. 5

Gandhi paper due by midnight

Dec. 6 and TBA

Objective portion of the FINAL EXAM is due by Dec. 6, 11:59 p.m., and essay portion of the FINAL EXAM is due TBA  Click here for a study guide.

© 2012-14 Paul Custodio Bube