Journey Through Religion

Introduction To The Academic Study of Religion

In Journey Through Religion you learn to study religion using academic methods.  You will discover what makes a phenomenon a “religion.”  You will find out that religions all share common characteristics such as ritual, belief, and morality and then you will learn to recognize and analyze those characteristics in various world religions.  In addition, you will be introduced to the world’s religious traditions which will make you better prepared to interact with the diverse peoples of our global world.  You will practice that skill in the course by encountering the life stories of followers of various religious traditions.  In sum, you will learn how to understand religious traditions both from the perspective of adherents and of constructive and conscientious outsiders.

Course Overview

This Course is taught by:

Joel J. Heim, Ph.D.


Joel is a life-long educator having served as a public high school teacher, religious educator and a college professor in the fields of religion, philosophy and education at universities in California and Wisconsin.  Over the course of his college teaching career, he taught a wide-range of religion and philosophy courses.  He focused his time on becoming a master teacher.

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Course Modules

Academic Study
Unit 1:
Introduction to the
Academic Study of Region
  • Introduction to Course
  • The Religious Map of Reality
  • The Academic Study of Religion
  • The World’s Religious Traditions
  • The Seven Characteristics of Religion
  • The Nature of the Sacred
  • Black Elk Speaks
Unit 2:
Native American Religions
  • Native American Religious Traditions I
  • Cultus/Ritual
  • Autobiography of John Fire Lame Deer
  • Native American Religious Traditions II
  • Autobiography of Mary Crow Dog
Unit 3:
  • The Rise of the Hindu Faith
  • Creed/Belief in Hinduism
  • Autobiography of Gopi Krishna
  • Hindu Mythology
  • Autobiography of Shudha Mazumdar
  • Exam on Units 1-3
Unit 4:
  • Introduction to Buddhism
  • Autobiography of Thich Nhat Hahn
  • Experiencing the unCanny/Transcendent
  • Autobiography of Satomi Myodo
Star of David
Unit 5:
  • The Development of Judaism I
  • The Development of Judaism II
  • Autobiography of Samuel Heilman
  • Community/Society
  • Community/Society in Judaism
  • Autobiography of Judith Magyar Isaacson
  • Exam on Units 4 & 5
Unit 6:
Honduran Catholicism
  • Christianity
  • Roman Catholicism
  • Autobiography of Elvia Alvarado
  • Code/Morality
  • Liberation Theology
  • Autobiography of Padre Carney
Unit 7:
  • American Denominationalism
  • Course/History of African American Protestantism
  • Autobiography of Benjamin E. Mays
  • African/American Protestantism
  • Autobiography of Bessie Jones
Star and Cresent
Unit 8:
  • Mohammad and the Abrahamic Traditions
  • Islamic Teachings and Practices
  • Character/Identity
  • Autobiography of Jalal Al-e Ahmad
  • Autobiography of Zaynab al-Ghazali
  • Final Exam Over Units 5, 6 and 7

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