The Catholic University of America

 Courses taught by William Dinges

TRS 280: The Religious Quest

This course will introduce students to the basic questions that underlie all religions and the quest for human meaning. It will then examine the methods by which one can come to understand a religion or set of practices that are not one's own. The contributions of the social sciences, and the theological issues raised by studying non-Christian traditions will be covered.

TRS 325: Catholicism in America Since 1945

An interdisciplinary approach to thematic issues in the American Catholic experience. Topics include Catholic ethnicity, devotional piety, assimilation, interest group conflict, and social movements, along with other social, cultural, and historical dynamics that have shaped Catholic identity in the United States.

TRS 380: Religion in American Culture

An interdisciplinary thematic examination of religion in American society. Topics include Puritanism, religion and social reform, utopian perfectionism, popular piety, fundamentalism, new religious movements, religion and ethnicity, and other varieties of American religious experience.

TRS 384: Sects, Cults, and New Religious Movements

An interdisciplinary examination of the historical, social, cultural, and theological dynamics of select religious movements primarily, but not exclusively, in post-World War II American society. Topics include religious movements as social phenomena, conversion and recruitment controversies, Eastern religion in America, fundamentalism and Christian revivalism, New Age spirituality, and apocalyptic movements.

TRS 385/HSEV 102: Religion and Ecology

This course examines a number of interrelated issues on religion, ethics and the environment. Topics include religious views of nature; theologies of creation; religious perspectives on consumerism, sustainability, bio-technology and environmental justice; the role of religion in promoting frugality and new forms of community; and paradigms of ecological spirituality.

TRS 386: Apocalypticism: Religious and Cultural Meaning

Are we living in the "final days"? An interdisciplinary examination of "end times" prophecy belief in American thought and culture; also, origins and cultural consequences of biblical apocalyptic thinking in the American experience. Topics: theories of "dispensationalism", pre- and post-millennialism, the role of America in millennial prophecy literature, impact of the Cold War and Nuclear Age on apocalyptic thinking; millenarian thinking in new religious movements, environmental radicalism, American Catholicism, Fundamentalism, and Christian reconstructionism. Secular versions of apocalypticism in quasi-religious survivalist and militia movements.

TRS 780A: Theory and Method in Religious Studies

This course is intended to provide a foundation for further graduate studies in religion by acquainting students with theories and methods from a variety of historical and social-scientific approaches, as well as with issues relating to their application in research. Topics include the development of the discipline of religious studies, anthropology of religion, psychology of religion, sociology of religion, and others.

TRS 784: Religion and Modern American Society

Examines religious and spiritual dynamics in post-World War II American society. Topics covered include religion and therapeutic culture; the decline of mainline religion; the rise of the Charismatic Movement, the New Religious Right, the New Age Movement; the "spiritual seeker" syndrome; the mega-Church phenomenon; religious pluralism; and the success of "new paradigm" and evangelical churches.

TRS 784A: Understanding Fundamentalism and Strong Religion

This course explores characteristics of "strong religion", its relationship to fundamentalism, to religious organizational vitality, and to other forms of religious identity. The class is organized thematically around "strong religion" by way of classical church/sect theory; theories of fundamentalism; social movement theories; rational choice theory; and secularization theories.

TRS 880: Catholic Identity

Covers issues relating to the social and cultural sources of Catholic identity; how the boundaries of Catholic identity have been transformed over time; how cohort effect, salience and life-course experience impact Catholic identity; the role of ethnic and multi-cultural dynamics in expressing Catholic identity; Catholic identity as interest group conflict; issues of Catholic identity formation in a postmodern culture of choice.

TRS 882B:  Religion and Globalization

This seminar is an interdisciplinary and thematic approach to religion and globalization. Issues covered include the role of public religion in a post-secular world; theories and patterns of secularization; the rise of religious fundamentalism, Pentecostalism, and militant Islam; the shift in Christianity’s center-of-gravity to the developing world; the role of religion in international and transnational advocacy relations; and the impact of market economy dynamics on global religious behaviors.