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 2015

Office Hours: Lyon 321

MWF 10:00 a.m.-noon

TR 8:30-9:20 a.m.

or by appointment

Phone: 870-307-7351




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 5.2. 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


Learning Outcomes:

 Upon successful completion of this course, the student will:



demonstrate intercultural knowledge of several of the world's religions by becoming familiar with the teachings and practices of those religions


develop inquiry and analysis of the world's religions by learning and applying representative concepts, theories, and methods used in the study of religion


demonstrate critical thinking, speaking skills, and teamwork in a small group by identifying strengths and weaknesses of diverse positions in major world religions' approaches to a current social issue and presenting those to the class


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


develop teamwork and speaking skills by working with a small group to give a class presentation on information about a ritual or festival of one major world religion


develop integrative learning by taking 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.


Honor Code:

It is important for students to keep in mind that all graded work in this class is to be pledged in accordance with the Lyon College Honor Code. On electronic exams, there will be a place for students to click that they are pledging their work. On all other assignments, students should type or write "Pledged" on the assignment, followed by their name and student ID number. (For example, "Pledged, Harry Potter 7311980.")


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 4-5 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:
Attendance - 6%
Leading Ecology & Religion Discussions - 4%
Presentations on Ritual/Festival - 10%
Progress Reports & Try It Sections from Revealing World Religions (see - 6%
Paper on Gandhi - 12%
Objective Exams - 25%
Essay Exams - 10%
Final Objective Exam - 12%
Final Essay Exam - 15%

Lyon College Policies:

ATTENDANCE: Page 119 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).

ADA: Students seeking reasonable accommodations based on documented learning disabilities must contact the Dean of the Faculty at (870) 307-7332.

Title IX: Lyon encourages anyone experiencing harassment, discrimination or sexual misconduct to talk to Clarinda Foote, Title IX Coordinator, or Patrick Mulick, Dean of Students and Title IX Investigator, about what happened so they can get the support they need and Lyon can respond appropriately.  Lyon is legally obligated to respond to reports of sexual misconduct, and therefore we cannot guarantee the confidentiality of a report, unless made to a confidential resource (Chaplain, Counselor, or Nurse). As a faculty member, I am required to report possible Title IX violations and must provide our Title IX coordinator with all relevant details.  I cannot, therefore, guarantee confidentiality.


Last day to drop with no record of the course is August 31  Last day to drop with a W is October 21 


Course Outline:

Aug. 18 Introduction to Course and Requirements

Aug 20 How to use the Revealing World Religions app and Educator.

Aug. 25 Begin reading and discussion of first module, "Exploring Religion."

Aug. 27 Finish reading of "Exploring Religion" before class discussion.

Sep. 1 Complete "Indigenous Religions mocule BEFORE class.

Sep. 3 Read Read prior to class

Sep. 5 Objective Exam #1 is due. Go to Educator to take exam. The exam must be completed by 11:59 p.m.

Sep. 8 Complete "Hinduism module. Due BEFORE class.

Sep. 8-10 Discussion of Hinduism.

Sep. 15 1st half of class: Read (prior to beginning of class); 2nd half of class: Student Presentaton on Hindu ritual/festival

Sep. 15 Objective Exam #2 is due by 11:59 p.m.

Sep. 17 Complete "Buddhism" module BEFORE class. We will be watching "The Life of Buddha" in class. Take notes and compare how the story in the video compares to Revealing World Religions.

Sep. 22 Discuss Buddhism

Sep. 24 1st half of class: Read prior to class (class discussion led by small group) 2nd half of class: Student presentation on Buddhist ritual/festival.

Sep. 25 Objective Exam#3 is due by 11:59 p.m.

Sep. 27 First Essay Exam (found under the "Assignments" link in Educator) is due by midnight, Sep. 27. E-mail your response to Dr. Bube as a Word document attached to the e-mail.

Sep. 29 Complete "Daoism" module BEFORE class.

Oct. 1 Read excerpt from Tao of Pooh found under the "Course Materials" link in Educator. (Print out and bring to class.)

Oct. 6 Complete "Confucianism" module BEFORE class.

Oct. 8 Comparing Daoism and Confucianism

Oct. 12-13 FALL BREAK

Oct. 15 1st half of class: Read and prior to class (class discussion led by small group). 2nd half of class: Student presentation on Daoist and/or Confucian ritual/festival.

Oct. 17 Objective Exam #4 on Daoism & Confucianism due by 11:59 p.m.

Oct. 20 Service Day -- classes cancelled so that students and faculty can participate.

Oct. 22 Complete "Shinto" module BEFORE class.

Oct. 27 1st half of class: Read prior to class (class discussion led by small group). 2nd half of class: Student presentation on Shinto ritual/festival

Oct. 27 Objective Exam #5 on Shinto due by 11:59 p.m.

Oct. 29 Complete module on "Judaism" BEFORE class.

Oct. 31 Note: Second Essay Exam (found under the "Assignments" link in Educator) is due by 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 31 (e-mail as Word document to Dr. Bube).

Nov. 3 Continue Discussion of Judaism.

Nov. 5 1st half of class: Read prior to class (class discussion led by small group). 2nd half of class: Student presentaton on Jewish ritual/festival.

Nov. 10 Complete module on "Christianity" BEFORE class.

Nov. 12 1st half of class: Read "ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI’ OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME" -- paragraphs 65-83 at  2nd half of class: Continue Discussion of Christianity

Nov. 14 Objective Exam #6 on Judaism and Christianity due by 11:59 p.m.

Nov. 17 Complete module on "Islam" BEFORE class.

Nov. 19 Continue discussion of Islam.

Nov. 24 1st half of class: Read prior to class (class discussion led by small group). 2nd half of class: Student presentation on Muslim ritual/festival.

Nov. 24 Gandhi paper due by midnight. E-mail it as a Word document.


Dec. 1 Complete "Sikhism" and "Religious Pluralism" modules BEFORE class. ("Religious Pluralism" is fairly short.)

Dec. 3 1st half of class: Read prior to class (class discussion led by small group). 2nd half of class: Student presentation on Sikh ritual/festival.

Dec. 5 Objective portion of Final Exam is due by 11:59.

TBA Essay portion of Final Exam is due           


© 2012-15 Paul Custodio Bube