Theology 201: Faith, Beliefs and Traditions
General Requirements for Reflection Papers #1 & #2

Goal
The goal of each paper is two-fold: 1) to examine and integrate material from the course into your own personal understanding of the topics being covered, and 2) to reflect critically on your own experience and understanding of a given topic.

Topics
Your paper must examine a specific and concrete topic from the syllabus/classes that has been covered or completed prior to paper due date.  It is your responsibility to choose the topic for each reflection paper from the topics covered on/in the syllabus/classes through the time that the paper is due.  Reflection papers are not a Jesus loves me this I know exercise, a time to express warm and fuzzies about how great your faith is, or a time to rant about some non-related religious issue.  You can rant and be as warm and fuzzy as you want to as long as you have specifically and methodologically examined a topic from the course.
**The only specific topics NOT AVAILABLE for choice is to choose one of the axial (world) religions and merely present its central tenets.  If you wish to cover an axial religion, it must be presented with a compare/contrast thesis vis–vis Christianity.

Format Requirements
    2 to 3 pages in length
o    Papers that fall short of being 2 full pages will have points deducted.  To be safe, papers should lapse onto its third page.
    Typed
    Double-spaced
    Default margins
    12pt. standard font letters

Reflection Component
In the process of, or after concluding, an examination of specific course material, you should engage the material by reflecting on its content vis–vis your own personal religious or spiritual experience.  You can accept, reject, concur, question, rant against, etc. etc. etc. the material, but do so from a standpoint of personal experience with a critical presentation for your opinions.

Style
A reflection paper can differ from a standard academic essay or research paper.  Although your paper must present and explain theological material covered in the course, it also asks for you to incorporate your personal experience with regard to the material.  Because this is required, the reflective component to your paper can be written in the first person singular.  These papers focus on individual personal experience and personal reflection on given class material rather than on an accumulation and analysis of objective data only.  They do not ordinarily require citation of additional research material outside of the courses required texts.  However, citing information from the class required texts is considered necessary to the success of the assignment.

A reflection paper is similar to other types of essays and research papers in that it requires a standard writing format: a specific thesis statement in the introduction and complete sentences organized into coherent paragraphs ordered toward a rational conclusion.  In other words, a reflection paper must still be well written and coherent even if some expectations have been changed.

Citations
Informal parenthetical citations are adequate for reflection papers.  While additional research is not necessary for a complete reflection paper, you should always integrate material from the course text,  lectures and/or additional readings.  Papers without material sourced from these locations will not be considered fully complete.

Examples of format for Informal Parenthetical Citations
    From text – to the earth (TFSE 54).
    From article – of all humanity (FRT 32).
    From article – conscience (Himes 72).
    From PowerPoint lecture – is personhood (Lecture 12 Slide 3).

Suggestion
If you do not consider yourself a strong writer, you may want to consider a modified 5 paragraph essay format.  Examine your specific topic, introduced and paragraphed like a 5 paragraph essay, but then prior to your concluding paragraph insert 2 to 3 paragraphs of personal reflection vis–vis the material covered.

Each paper should have three main parts:

I)    The introduction tells the reader the specific topic of the paper, contains a thesis statement and a brief preview/commentary/listing of what will be covered in support of the topic/thesis.

II)    The body of the paper presents your ideas, insights and experience in a rational and logically sequential way, and in a way that directly integrates specific material addressed in the course.  Citing information from the class required texts should be considered a requirement.  Each paragraph should develop a new idea, draw out further implications of a preceding idea, or build on the previous paragraph in a significant way.  Although the exercise is a reflection on your own experience vis–vis the material covered, your statements and conclusions must be supported with critical reflection and experiential evidence.  (Because thats my opinion or Thats just what I believe are not adequate conclusions).

III)    The conclusion clarifies and summarizes the insights gained from the study of the central thesis presented (affirming, challenging or raising questions of previous held beliefs) while drawing a direct connection between the introduction and body of the paper.  While not being redundant, the conclusion should tell the reader what the central points and organizing thesis of the paper has been.

Format
Please follow the standard MLA format for academic and research papers.  NO COVER SHEET is required.  Paragraphs should be indented one tab key (or 5 spaces) and not separated one from another by additional spaces.  Papers should be in black ink and stapled.  The first page should follow the attached example.

Introduction / Introductory Paragraph
All academic papers require a sound introductory paragraph including a thesis and a preview of supporting material that will be covered to support the thesis.

Use of Scripture
    When using or referring to scripture to support your argument in a theology paper, it is assumed you are using the material from a historical critical interpretative framework.  The use and conclusions drawn from scripture should be consistent with this interpretative methodology.
    If you choose to use scripture from a fundamentalist or literal viewpoint, you MUST explicitly acknowledge this is how you are using scripture in the paper.  If you use or draw conclusions from scripture from a fundamentalist viewpoint and do not explicitly acknowledge you are using this viewpoint, it will be considered an inappropriate use of scripture for this academic assignment.

 

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