For the final assignment, you will be combining your knowledge from three readings this semester, Maggie Nelson’s Great to Watchm Armstrong’s Homo Religiosus, and Thurman’s Wisdom. Below is the essay assignment.
Armstrong suggests that over time, religion has evolved in ways that reflect the changing needs of society. Different needs, she suggests, have required different forms of both “cultivation” and “consciousness” Homo Religiousus ends with the “great sages” of the Axial Age more than two thousand years ago, but what clues might Nelson and Robert Thurman provide about the future direction of religion in our era? Why has ritual violence become so much a fixture of our popular culture, and what can we learn about our unmet needs from recent interest in meditation and the experience of “selflessness”? Why might selflessness be useful now as a cultural ideal?