Write a 5–7 page paper (1000–1250 words) about your religious field research into an “unfamiliar” religious tradition.
You are to pick one (1) of the religions studied (with which you are not very familiar) and do one of these three (3) things:
- Attend a religious service, or
- Visit a religious education center and interview a member of that faith, or
- Attend a “virtual religious service” and complete additional research (for a list of services, see Appendix A)
The paper will address the following points:
- Discuss any misconceptions you had about the religion you researched.
- Analyze how your prior understanding about this religion was altered (if at all) through your encounter.
- Discuss whether you believe misconceptions about other people’s religion are common and explain why or why not.
- Recommend at least one (1) step that could be taken to minimize misconceptions people have about religions not their own.
Keep the points to be covered in your paper in mind during your religious field research to help guide your encounter. The purpose of your field research (whether actual or virtual) is to test your own assumptions about this religion.
Pay attention to what is important to people inside the religion, what they do, what they profess, how they act, what they value, what they talk about, and what they tell you about their religion. The easiest way to understand what is important to someone else is let them tell you about their faith, their traditions, and their religious practices. The most important thing to do is to keep an open mind and listen. No matter which of the three routes you take for your field research, you will be looking for the same information.
A note about attending religious services in person: Please keep in mind that if you choose to attend a religious service in person, you are a guest and should be as respectful as humanly possible. While you may be attending the service from the perspective of an objective (and hopefully inquisitive) observer, most of the other people will be attending the service as part of their religious practices. Please do the following before you go:
- Call the place you wish to attend and ask if it is okay to attend as an observer
- Ask if someone could (or should) act as a host when you attend
- Ask if anyone would be willing to speak with you after the service to explain what happened and to answer a few questions about the basics of the religion