RELI 235: Eastern Christianity and the Encounter with Islam
One of the best ways to understand a particular tradition is to observe its practitioners, especially when at worship. For your observation-reflection paper in this class, you will need to go visit and attend a service at a local Orthodox church or a local mosque. If you are Muslim, you are not permitted to “visit” your own mosque for this paper, but must visit an Orthodox Church or at the very least another mosque other than your own. Equally, if you are Orthodox, you are not permitted to go to your own parish as sufficient for this paper: you must visit a mosque, or at the very list an entirely different Orthodox church. There are three “full-time” Orthodox churches in Ft. Wayne:
http://www.saintnickschurch.com/ (Orthodox Church of America)
http://www.stjohnfortwayne.org/ (Antiochian Orthodox)
http://www.holytrinity.in.goarch.org/ (Greek Orthodox; they will use a lot of Greek during their liturgies)
Use the contact information on the website to find a liturgy you can attend. It is a good idea to call or e-mail to confirm service times. If you do not live in Ft. Wayne, consult this website (use the “Church locator” button at the top to find a parish near you: http://www.orthodoxyinamerica.org/
There are at least two Islamic centres in Fort Wayne. Be advised that all Muslims will pray almost entirely in Arabic:
You are to visit any one of these—or an Orthodox church or mosque near where you live if you do not live in Ft. Wayne. It is strongly advised that you contact the church or mosque in advance of your visit to confirm the time of service, and also to establish the purpose of your visit and find out any pertinent information before going. Additionally if you call first, the church or mosque may be able to make available to you someone who can give you a guided tour or be there to help answer some of your questions. Before you go to an Orthodox Church, please read the following:
If you are going to visit a mosque, please read the following:
When you attend a service, you are going as a “representative” of the university to some extent, and you need therefore to be respectful and to act appropriately. Dress and act accordingly. This means that at an Orthodox church, you participate fully in the service (e.g., you must stand when everyone else stands, sit when they sit, etc.), but would not normally receive Holy Communion unless you are yourself Orthodox and prepared through recent Confession, fasting (from midnight), and prayers.
At an Islamic mosque, you will sit at the very back of the room or, if a woman, likely in a separate room entirely with your job being not participation but simple observation, as unobtrusively as possible. Here you would not normally be expected to sit, stand, and prostrate when others do, but simply to sit or stand quietly and out of the way.
Writing the Reflection Paper:
The purpose of your paper is to attend a service, note the component parts of that service and its practitioners, and then to describe your own reactions.
If you use sources, please ensure that you consistently follow one style sheet (whether APA or the Chicago Manual of Style). I do not need a printed copy of your paper, but you are required to e-mail me a copy of your paper in Word format.
This paper is normally 7-10-pp. in length (double-spaced and with 1” margins in a standard 12-point font like Garamond or Times New Roman), and must consist of the following clearly labeled sections:
(1) Title page: with your name, course information, and date; the name, address, and website of the church or mosque you attended, the date on which you attended, and the name of the service you attended (1 page). (You are also strongly encouraged to submit a copy of any bulletin or service leaflet you may have picked up at the church or mosque.)
2) A sketch of the notable characteristics of the service you attended, i.e., what happened, part by part, using proper terminology if known, and telling also the number and nature of the participants (e.g, 1 cantor, 2 priests, 3 imams, etc), ritual gestures employed, languages used, etc. (1-2 pages).
(3) Your own reactions: what you thought and felt during and after the service (2-4pp).
(4) Your overall reflections on what you observed during the service in light of what we have covered in our assigned readings and classroom lectures and discussions (2-3pp). Connect what you observed with the material in the readings and in class. Show integration of your experiences with what you’ve read, and any differences between what you observed and what you read.
(5) If you were to become a member of the mosque or church you observed, and you wanted to “explore personal spiritual development” there, what would you be most interested in exploring, and what would you be least interested in exploring? (2-3pp).