Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Still plugging away...

I'm still plugging away at my OpenCourseWare course, the Anthropology of Religion. I continue to read the books I mentioned previously (Emile Durkhelim's The Elementary Forms of the Relgious Life and Benson Saler's Conceptualizing Religion). I couldn't find any of the recommended texts within the two library systems that I frequent, so I requested what I could find, The Dreamtime: Australian Aboriginal Myths in Paintings by Ainslie Roberts with text by Charles P. Mountford and The Spirit World (The American Indians) from Time-Life Books. I'm finding much that resonates within me when I read about Native American beliefs and their values of balance/imbalance or harmony/disharmony as opposed to the good/evil dichotomy found in western religions that I have known.

Tonight I found time to listen to Dr. Crapo's lecture on Chapter 2 of his book: Diversity and Unity in the World's Religions. And, lest anyone think that I'm not giving my brain some much neede downttime, I've also taken out a Tony Hillerman mystery involving retired Navajo tribal policeman, Joe Leaphorn. His writing was a gentle introduction to shamanic practices.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

More to follow

I watched Dr. Richley H. Crapo's lecture on "Religion: A multi-Faced Phenomenon" on my tiny, little QuickTime screen. It looked like he was taped while sitting in his office with his back to his bookcases. I think it will take me a little while to get used to multiple QuickTime downloads as a lecture, but, truly, I shouldn't complain about its quality for twice the price (free).

I received the last of my books order from - Children of the Forest: Life with the Mbuti Pygmies by Kevin Duffy. He writes well. I found the part about the "molimo" referred to in Dr. Crapo's text as the most important Pygmy ceremony that is carried out so casually it doesn't look like a religious ritual.

I'm getting ready to dive into Chapter 2: Diversity and Unity in the World's Religions. More to follow.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

OpenCourseWare - Books, books and more books

I continue to be enthusiastic over my OpenCourseWare course, the Anthropology of Religion. I'm still working on all the resource material listed in the first chapter, Anthropological Viewpoints about Religion. (Question: How does a college student find the time to do all this and take other courses and indulge in all else that collegiate life has to offer? Answer: I suspect that they don't if they are anything like I was back in the late sixties and early seventies.) Now in my mid-fifties, I'm having a terrific time getting back into academia. I've listened to about a third of the videotaped lectures, trying out Quicktime versus Windows Media Player.

I learned more about the NoteTaker program last night and can now link directly to URLs from various internet sites that lend depth to any notes I take. It's a fascinating way to take notes - non-linear as need be. Much remains terra incognita in the various pull down menus, however.

Today the big excitement was our mail delivery which brought two packages courtesy of Emile Durkheim's The Elementary Forms of the Relgious Life and Benson Saler's Conceptualizing Religion. I'll be dipping into these tomes along with one received earlier this week: The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure by Victor Turner. Depending on how that goes, it might be a little awhile before I blog again!

Friday, November 04, 2005

OpenCourseWare - A New Enthusiam

Well, the mindful blogging was a big bust. I simply cannot write that way (on or off the internet). I have to edit, refine, rethink, retool, cogitate and then some before anything goes out under my name. I didn't blog for over three months which was more than enough time to come up with a new enthusiasm: OpenCourseWare! The BOCES GED teacher at the jail where I work mentioned it while we were discussing Macintosh iBooks. He said that MIT had started it in a big way by putting all their courses online so people could audit by internet to obtain cultural enrichment. I checked it out and discovered that it wasn't just MIT. John Hopkins, Tufts University and a handful of others have decided to make some of their courses available online. I found one at Utah State University entitled Anthropology of Religion. The syllabus includes the text name, video lectures by Dr. Crapo (the text's author), other images and quizzes.

So, in the intervening blogless period, I've explored the online used textbooks store (I can't believe how much textbooks have gone up in price since I was in college!!). After securing the text, Anthropology of Religion: The Unity and Diversity of religions, I jumped into Chapter 1. Things have changed a great deal since I went to Eisenhower College in 1969. Besides giving a host of recommended readings, there is a list of recommended websites to peruse. I've been busy checking them out while trying to locate some of the recommended readings in the two public library systems I have access to. I could only find Carl Sagan's book, A Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. I went back to and found books by Emile Durkheim, Benson Saler and Victor Turner. Although I couldn't find the exact book by Bronislaw Malinowski, I was able to locate another appropriate book at the Internet Sacred Text Archive.

There's nothing like letting enthusiam rip. I decided to see how students now are taking notes and found NoteTaker by Aquaminds Software Corporation. There's a bit of a steep learning curve that comes along with the month-long demo. The interface isn't as intuitive as I would expect. But, anyway, I'm happily taking notes, listening to the lecture and reading my eyes raw - all for not a lick of credit, just the joy of learning.