Make Your Own Religion

RELS 152 Sacred Storytelling—Final paper assignment


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Your final paper will be a revision project that will involve at least two, if not all three, of the mini-papers you’ve written in this class so far. As a reminder:


Mini paper 1 asked you to reflect on the big questions in life, and to identify what the big question was, from your perspective. You were also tasked with identifying a narrative that helped you make sense of the big question.

Mini paper 2 asked you to make a case for a specific definition of religion, or description of religion.

Mini paper 3 asked you to identify a spiritual master.


As we look at these three, we can observe that you have, in some sense, explored from your personal perspective, the characteristics of religious traditions that Prothero uses throughout his text: problem, solution, technique and exemplar. Mini paper 1 identified the problem (and possibly part of the solution), paper 2 did the solution and part of the techniques, paper 3 did exemplar and more of the technique, in the form of the imitable virtues you identified in your spiritual master.


This final essay asks you to synthesize these ideas into a coherent vision of religion-according-to-you. You should narrate for your reader what religion you’ve outlined in your three papers (hint: it won’t be a religious tradition we have covered in class. It is unique to you). To complete this task successfully, you will have to do a fair amount of revision (beyond just editing and proofreading). You are converting three short personal-view essays into a longer creative-writing piece.


Your paper should draw on your three previous papers, in order to answer the following questions:

  • What is the major problem in the world/for people right now?
  • What is the solution to this problem?
  • What techniques can be used in solving this problem?
  • Who is/are the exemplar(s) of successfully overcoming this problem?


You should have a thesis statement that will likely focus on what you feel is the strongest part of your argument. You should also use examples to strengthen your claims. For example, if you claim that dishonesty is the fundamental problem in the world, you should give historic and contemporary examples that clarify what you mean by dishonesty. This requires research AND CITATION. The good news is twofold: you have already done a fair amount of thinking about elements of this essay. The work ahead is to make them coherent, even if it means pivoting on one or more of your previous theses.


This final paper is due on Wednesday, December 9. If you would like to submit a draft for me to look over, that must be submitted by Wednesday, December 3rd.


Your final exam will be on Tuesday, 12/15 from 8:30-10:30. We will have a final exam review on Wed 12/9 during class time.


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