Kristin Bloomer, 2,3c, Hybrid
How can we best understand the role of religion in the world today, and how should we interpret the meaning of religious traditions — their texts and practices — in history and culture? This class takes an exciting tour through selected themes and puzzles related to the fascinating and diverse expressions of religion throughout the world. From politics and pop culture, to religious philosophies and spiritual practices, to rituals, scriptures, gender, religious authority, and more, students will explore how these issues emerge in a variety of religions, places, and historical moments in the U.S. and across the globe.

Asuka Sango, 4,5c, Hybrid
An introduction to the major religious traditions of Japan, from earliest times to the present. Combining thematic and historical approaches, this course will scrutinize both defining characteristics of, and interactions among, various religious traditions, including worship of the kami (local deities), Buddhism, shamanistic practices, Christianity, and new religious movements. We also will discuss issues crucial in the study of religion, such as the relation between religion and violence, gender, modernity, nationalism and war.

RELG 232: Queer Religions
Elizabeth F Dolfi, 3a, Hybrid
Passions, pleasures, ecstasies, and desires bear on religion and sexuality alike, but intersections and tensions between these two domains are complicated. This course wagers that bringing the hotly contested categories “queer” and “religion” together will illuminate the diverse range of bodies, activities, and identities that inhabit both. The course explores religion and sexuality in Modern Western thought, erotic elements in religious texts and art, and novels and narratives of religious belief and practice in queer lives. The course combines concrete cases with theoretical tools that queer and feminist scholars have used to analyze religious and sexual communities, bodies, and identities.

Elizabeth F Dolfi, 5a, Hybrid
The Bible says that “the love of money is the root of all evil,” but the history of Christianity and mammon contains multitudes – voluntary poverty and acquisitive empires, radical utopian communities and the blessings of business, peace movement feasts and prosperity gospels, colonialism and humanitarian neo-liberalism, and commodity fetishism for Christ. This course will use a breadth of historical case studies alongside critical theories of modernity and capitalism to explore Christianity’s relationship with wealth, from pre-modern economic theologies, to faith in modern industrial capitalism and Christianity’s vexed entanglements with late capitalist ideologies and practices.

Caleb S Hendrickson, 2a, Online
This class examines the ethical principles that often guide decision-making in health care. It focuses on principles espoused by many religious and humanistic traditions, within the context of a modern, pluralistic society. Using plentiful case studies, we consider a number of issues in bioethics, including assisted suicide; maternal-fetal relations; artificial reproduction, including human cloning; the use of human subjects in research; health care justice and reform; triage and allocation of sparse medical resources; and public health issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kristin Bloomer, 5,6c, Online
In religious studies, “mystical experience” is generally understood to be an immediate encounter with ultimate reality, divinity, the sacred, and/or the absolute—however widely construed. Or: Is it just the firing of a bunch of neurons? Is it “pure”—or always mediated through a social(-ized) and (de-)sexed body? This comparative course will explore “mysticism” across traditions and times as we interrogate the term and the plethora of experiences that fall under its rubric. Other questions include: Is mystical experience gendered? What is the role of the body in mystical practice? Does mysticism free us? Are mystics critics of social injustice?  

Michael McNally, 4,5c, Online
Somali Muslims in Rice County? Hindus in Maple Grove? Hmong shamans in St. Paul hospitals? Sun Dances in Pipestone? In light of globalization, the religious landscape of Minnesota, like America more broadly, has become more visibly diverse. Lake Wobegon stereotypes aside, Minnesota has always been characterized by some diversity but the realities of immigration, dispossession, dislocation, economics, and technology have made religious diversity more pressing in its implications for every arena of civic and cultural life. This course bridges theoretical knowledge with engaged field research focused on how Midwestern contexts shape global religious communities and how these communities challenge and transform Minnesota.

Michael McNally, 2,3c, Online
The practices of popular, or local, or lived religion in American culture often blur the distinction between the sacred and profane and elude religious studies frameworks based on the narrative, theological, or institutional foundations of “official” religion. This course explores American religion primarily through the lens of the practices of lived religion with respect to ritual, the body, the life cycle, the market, leisure, and popular culture. Consideration of a wide range of topics, including ritual healing, Christmas, cremation, and Elvis, will nourish an ongoing discussion about how to make sense of lived religion.