Religion as a Window on Culture

The Leader’s Guide companion to the video series, Religion as a Window on Culture, is designed for use in a congregational setting.

The video and the leader’s guide have been tested in formal congregational study settings as well as in a full-day workshop involving members of clergy, educators, and representatives of community organizations.

Use this guide in any way that seems appropriate to your setting.  First, preview the episodes and read through the leader’s guide in advance of the group.  Lay leaders may find it helpful to discuss episode concepts with members of clergy.  Determine in advance the exercises you will use and what your group’s schedule will be.  While each episode stands on its own, and could very well be used by itself, the series works best if followed from Episode I through Episode VI.

One suggestion for using the series is to view one episode every two weeks.  This would provide sufficient time for group members to re-examine the theme of an episode in relation to their own faith tradition. The time might also be spent learning about less familiar faith traditions in the community.  Many have found that they gain a better understanding of their own traditions by learning about the traditions of others.

While a great deal of information is contained in the video and many thought provoking topics are incorporated in the Leader’s Guide, remember that it is just a guide.  It can be used in its entirety or in part, but it also can be modified or expanded upon to suit specific needs.

Comments from the testing phase of the video and Leader’s Guide have suggested the material can be used as a vehicle for service to one’s community.  Episode V: Sacred Texts and Stories, for example, could serve as a springboard to recording congregational history.  Or Episode III: Sacred Time could be used to focus attention on efforts to revisit religious rites of passage.  In other words, the video could lead to projects that the guide does not envision and that might involve more than the viewing audience.

The Leader’s Guide offers a lesson plan for each episode in the video series.  These sections include an introduction to the video, suggestions of things to keep in mind while viewing the video, and questions for discussion after watching the video.  For more in-depth investigation, additional materials for each episode including worksheets for short exercises, optional project suggestions, or questions for further group discussion are included at the end of the section.

The appendices include a glossary of religious terms, observances, historical figures, and deities; calendars of holy days; contact information for faith groups; a selected bibliography, and copies of comparative stories of creation.

We would be happy to hear from you.  Tell us how you decided to useReligion as a Window on Culture.  What innovative ideas did your congregation come up with in using the series?  Let us know of exercises you developed, or projects that were inspired by the series.  How did participants respond to the materials?  What was especially good about the series?  How could it be a better product?  Let us know.