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Senior High School Specialized Subject: Introduction to World Religions and Belief Systems

Introduction to World Religions and Belief Systems is one of the specialized subjects under the Academic career track and the HUMSS learning strand. Some examples of the things that you will learn from taking this subject include:

  • How World Religions Began
    • Historical contexts
    • Geographical contexts
  • Positive and Negative Effect of Religions
  • Judaism
    • Founders: Abraham (2000 B.C.) and/or Moses (1391-1271 B.C.)
    • Sacred texts: Torah, Poetry, Prophets, Talmud, Mishnah
    • Doctrines: Ten commandments, 618 rules
    • God: Yahweh/Jehovah
    • Sects: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform liberal
    • Issues: anti-Semitism, Zionism, Holocaust
  • Christianity
    • Founder: Jesus Christ (c. 7 BC-30 A.D.)
    • Sacred texts: Bible (old testament and new testament)
    • Doctrines: Trinity, virgin birth, deity of Christ, resurrection, last judgment
    • God: Trinity (father, son and holy spirit)
    • Sects: Roman Catholic, Greek/Eastern Orthodox, Protestantism, etc.
    • Issues: ecumenism, sexuality issues (e.g., contraception, homosexuality, ordination of women)
  • Hinduism
    • Founders: Aryans (1500 B.C.)
    • Sacred texts: Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagavad-gita
    • Doctrines: dharma (duty), kama (pleasure), artha (wealth), moksha (liberation), Brahman, Atman, the identification of Brahman and Atman, the four yogas (yoga of knowledge, yoga of work, yoga of devotion or love, and yoga of psychological exercises)
    • Gods: 33 million gods and goddesses
    • Issues: gender inequality, caste system, poverty
  • Theravada Buddhism
    • Founder: Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 B.C.)
    • Sacred texts: Tripitaka
    • Doctrines: four noble truths, eightfold path, law of dependent origination and the impermanence of things
    • God: non-theistic
    • Issue: territory conflict in mainland Southeast Asia
  • Mahayana Buddhism
    • Founder: Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 B.C.)
    • Sacred texts: sutras
    • Doctrines: four noble truths, eightfold Path, the six perfections to become a bodhisattva (generosity, morality, patience, perseverance, meditation, and insight)
    • God: non-theistic
    • Issues: Tibet invasion, engaged activism
    • Universality and growth of sects: development of Buddhism to Zen (Chan) Buddhism as the fruit of its encounter with Taoism.
  • Confucianism
    • Founder: Confucius (551-479 B.C.)
    • Sacred texts: Confucian classics
    • Doctrines: Mandate of Heaven, T’ien, Human nature as originally good (Mencius) or evil (Hsun Tze), Rectification of Names, The Moral Way consisting of five cardinal virtues, Filial Piety, and Ancestor Worship
    • God: Heaven
    • Issues: Gender inequality, Authoritarianism
  • Taoism
    • Founder: Lao Tzu (604 B.C. – ?)
    • Sacred texts: Tao Te Ching, Book of Chuang Tze
    • Doctrines: Wu-Wei, law of reversion, following nature
    • Tao as the origin of all beings, unnameable and eternal
    • Issues: inaction, superstitious practices, environmentalism
  • Shintoism
    • Founders: prehistoric animists of Japan
    • Sacred texts: Kojiki and Nihongi
    • Doctrines: belief in kami, divinity of emperors
    • Gods: kami (animist and nature spirits)
    • Issues: shrine visits of Japanese prime ministers

While studying, you will also be asked to demonstrate what you have learned by participating in class activities that may include the following:

  • Conducting a group activity that demonstrates the influence of a religion in a certain culture
  • Gathering articles, photos, editorial, etc. showing the positive or negative effects of religion
  • Interviewing a Christian parent or couple about their beliefs and the practices they follow
  • Conducting a panel discussion on Muslim beliefs and practices
  • Conducting a group research on the doctrines of each of the three religions
  • Comparing the three in terms of origin, morality, purpose, destiny, and views on women
  • Simulating yoga and writing a reflection paper on Hinduism
  • Evaluating the eightfold path in terms of how it achieves the Middle Way
  • Presenting a character sketch of a person who personifies the Confucian virtues
  • Identifying the things you can do without by making an inventory of personal belongings
  • Writing a reflection paper on Taoism based on the result of the inventory
  • Interpreting the Kojiki creation story creatively
  • Simulating inter-religious dialogue that reflects the meaning of life, how it relates to one’s self, family, society and nature, and the way to achieve personal happiness and fulfillment

These examples only cover the scope of the specialized subjects under the Academic track and HUMSS learning strand. For the scope of the core and contextualized subjects under the senior high school curriculum, please refer to their respective lists.

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