"Elements of Religion"

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Extra Credit


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Observation Report --> Worship

During the first half of the course, the Worship Report describes your observations and interviews among participants at a local worship site. This report also relates your observations to those documented in related course readings. You write for a peer (vs. a specialist) who is unfamiliar with the topic, since half a dozen student observation reports will be assigned as readings for application exercises in Units 2 & 4 and for the final TRA.

IMPORTANT: you must observe formal worship at one of the times listed under Local Sites, not simply visit the site and talk to people. Although you may at other times have interesting informal interactions with community members there, it will be difficult to tell what they normally do when outsiders are not present based exclusively on such interactions.

Step 1: Worship Visit Worksheet (WVW)

Once you have selected a site to visit, print out the Worship Visit Worksheet (WVW --> PDF/MS Word) and start generating the questions that you will attempt to answer when you attend the site. There are ten different topics to address in coming up with your questions, which will help you focus on

A. the way the practices you observe spontaneously inspired participants' thoughts and feelings about the sacred;

B. the way participants intentionally cultivated certain thoughts & feelings about the sacred to heighten engagement in their practice;

C. how your perceptions of practice & reflection compare with descriptions of practice & reflection found in one assigned primary source from Units 1-2.

The questions you generate need not be perfect, since you can revise your questions and/or come up with new ones during the visit itself (see advice under "Observing Worship"). But it's important to start coming up with questions beforehand to put yourself in the right frame of mind to gather evidence during the visit.

Unless you already know someone who reguarly attends the site you visit, you'll need to make sure to connect with someone there to set up an interview--either after the event or at a later time, in person or by phone (see advice under "The Worship Interview"). As soon as possible after leaving, make notes to answer the questions you came up with before and/or during your visit. When you get to a computer, number the questions and type up your responses. When you finish, the last part of the worksheet will guide you in thinking about what to focus on for the final report (step 3).

IMPORTANT: the thinking process required for responding and responding to questions on the WVW is the most challenging task you will undertake for this course, requiring you to integrate many of the skills honed through team assignments.

Your WVW must be posted under the Assignments tab in SacCT by Saturday, September 29 AND a *printed copy* must be brought to class on Monday, October 1. A completed WVW will receive 25 out of the total number of points for the assignment. No partial credit will be given; incomplete forms will be returned for completion. Note that thoughtful responses on the worksheet will positively influence scoring of the final product (see step 3).

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