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Theology and religious studies

Theology and religious studies

Topics: Choose One
1. REFLECTION PAPER: When you read (or hear) the Bible, do you tend to hear it as
the word of God, or as something written by human beings, or both? How does
this perspective influence how you understand the Bible, and whether you see it
as relevant for your own life?
? If you have spent time reading the Bible (or listening closely to Bible readings during Mass
or other liturgies), you may wish to give some examples that can be used effectively in this
paper to illustrate your point.
? Dei Verbum (especially sections 11-13) explains the Catholic view that Scripture is truly
written by God and is also truly written by human beings. This perspective should be
mentioned in your paper – but you are free to agree with it, disagree with it, or respond to it
in any way you like. When citing from this text, use footnotes like this one.1
? You should use “Ibid.,” to replace the author and text name whenever a footnote refers to
the same text that the previous footnote did, like so.2
2. POSITION PAPER: How do you interpret the creation narrative(s) in Genesis 1–2?
Do you see this as one story or two? If two, how do they fit together? What do you
think about the historical accuracy of these stories?
? Your paper should state a position, and present arguments in favor of that position.
? Cite frequently from the Biblical text to support your argument, using parenthetical
citations like this one (Gen 2:4). If one of your paragraphs often cites one book of the Bible
and no other book, after the first citation you can omit the book name, like this (2:7).
? Review your notes from class on Sept. 6, and the “Genesis 1–2: Different Interpretations”
handout. Your position does not have to match the ones discussed in class, but by
considering these interpretations you will be able to better develop arguments for your own
position. A strong paper will mention some alternative interpretations of Genesis 1–2 and
explain why you do not find them convincing.
3. REFLECTION PAPER: What impact does the Biblical creation story have on your
own understanding of what it means to be human? You may wish to focus on one
specific issue (such as being a “creature,” or the relationship between men and
women, or the relationship between humans and nature). Or you can address
several such issues in your paper.
? There are various ways to do this. Some examples: You could compare and contrast your
own view to the the Biblical text. You could offer your own perspective on what the Biblical
text means. You could reflect on how this text can reinforce or challenge your viewpoints.
You could address the question, “If this text is the word of God, what is it saying to me/us
today?”
? Cite the Biblical text within your paper, using parenthetical citations like this one (Gen 2:4).
If one of your paragraphs often cites one book of the Bible and no other book, after the first
citation you can omit the book name, like this (2:7).
4. POSITION/REFLECTION PAPER: According to Michael Himes, once you realize that
you were created by God, then you must come to grips with the the following
claims: “I have a purpose to my existence” and “I do not determine what that
purpose is.” Do you agree or disagree with these claims? What does this mean
for how you see your own life?
? In addition to taking a position on these questions (whether there is a purpose to life, and
whether this purpose is determined by you), you should explain how your perspective has
shaped your life in the past, or how it affects your understanding of who you are, or how it
shapes how you visualize your future life. (Or some of each.) If your perspective on this
question has changed, you may wish to discuss this as well.
? To explain in more detail what Himes means by this statement, be sure to include citations
of the Himes reading, like this one.
3
? You should use “Ibid.,” to replace the author and text name whenever a footnote refers to
the same text that the previous footnote did, like so.4
5. POSITION PAPER: How do you explain why people do evil things? Do you think
it’s the fault of the person doing it, or the fault of their environment (society,
social circle, parents), or something else? Or some combination? Alternatively,
do you think that there are no such things as “evil actions” and “fault”?
? Your paper should state a clear thesis, and systematically present arguments in favor of that
position.
? It is best to mention some specific examples – perhaps an atrocity in war, or a violent crime,
or a friend who betrayed someone who trusted them, or even just everyday rudeness. You
are free to focus most of your paper on one example, or to focus on several examples, or to
only refer to examples briefly and then keep the paper on a more general level. What is
most important is to connect these examples to your thesis, by showing how they support
your argument.
? A strong paper will mention some alternative viewpoints and explain why you do not find
them convincing.

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