All Faiths Seminary International – Master’s of Divinity Program, 2016-2017 Curriculum 48 CREDITS
(Please send your monthly assignments to your mentor. E-mail or snail mail. Your final thesis must be hard copy and snail mailed.)
Welcome to the Seminary’s Master’s of Divinity Program, a one-year 48-point program leading to that degree. Classes will be held for 4 hours each of the 9 months September through May. The course may be taken by correspondence, and whether or not you so choose, an MP3 will be sent to you each month.
The Seminary’s master course and your degree certificate will be certified and accredited by the Commonwealth Open University, our affiliate university.
Completion of the course requires submission by May 15 of a thesis of at least 50 pages including an introduction, table of contents, content with footnotes and bibliography. Prior to thesis submission, the course requires timely submission of assignment papers, including a thesis proposal, which are listed below by month. Separately you have been provided the required master’s book list, which you are expected to read. However, you are free to substitute any book of your choosing if it supports your thesis. Please inform the Dean when a substitution is made.
The Seminary does not have a writing mentor on staff. Please find a writing mentor to help in any way you need with your thesis or any monthly assignment. Your assigned mentor will assist you in any way he or she can.
Any general questions can be directed to Dean Kathleen Regan, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, 516-659-9129.
All tuition questions and payments should be sent to our Bursar, Fran Cosentino. She can be reached at our office.
All Faiths Seminary International
September Responding to the Call (6 credits)
- Prepare draft of plans for ministry. How will you incorporate already-acquired talent? In which areas would you want more training, spiritual counseling and public speaking, etc.
- Prepare analysis (1000 or more words) of what you understand to be the basic principles that connect all (or most) religions.
- Theology involves the religious knowledge or belief in god. Describe (1000 or more words) your methodology in aiding the ever-deepening process of self-exploration that leads to or increases a knowledge of god.
- Provide a bibliography of your favorite spiritual authors. Also add what works you are reading at present and plan to add. Using 3 spiritual books you have read, submit a review (2000 or more words) of this selection.
October Comparative Religion (3 credits)
- How would you define religion in general? Mysticism? (500 words or more on each)
- In his book Religions of the World Nielsen advances 12 common characteristics found in most religions. Name them, followed by a sentence or two describing them.
- Explore (1000 or more words) the differences among the followers of five major religions: Jews. Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. State how if it has this understanding has changed your perspective on world religions.
- Write a paper (500 or more words each) on 2 selected verses of the Bhagavad Gita.
November Sacred Literature (3 credits)
- Historically religious traditions have assigned sacred meaning to time, place, symbols and objects based upon experience in which the sacred is seen or accepted as manifest. Such experience help serve as a foundational block for religions. Based upon the foregoing discuss (2000 or more words) how such experiences have influenced the most primitive and the most developed religions.
- Choose one verse or section from the Gospel of Thomas and present (1000 or more words) your reflection thereon.
- Submit your thesis proposal for review by the committee. Make an appointment to defend your proposal.
December Sacred Leaders (3 credits)
- In religious history we often see three major types of religious leaders: prophets, sages and saviors, occasionally leaders who possess more than one such quality. Select a religious leader for each such quality, mainly, and describe (1000 or more words) how such quality was achieved or identified.
- Explore briefly (2000 or more words) the evolutionary history or Mysticism, Philosophy and Religion.
- Submit a mission statement for your thesis.
- Chose one verse or section from the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and present (1000 or more words) your reflection thereon.
- Chose one verse or section from the Gospel of Judas and present (1000 or more words) your reflections thereon.
January Religious Rituals (3 credits)
- Identify and describe 8 religiously and/or spiritually connected life cycles and calendar rituals. Which ones have you experienced and what impact did they have and what role have they played for you (1000 or more words).
- Prepare a wedding ceremony program for an interfaith couple, including the interview process, spiritual counseling and ceremony itself (2000 or more words).
- Submit draft thesis outline.
February Spiritual Potential and Access to Spiritual Sight (3 credits)
Lao-Tzu taught that one’s spiritual potential can be understood through the knowledge of self. He taught as follows: “Use the light that dwells within you to regain your natural clarity of sight.” He also taught that forgiveness challenges us to shift our perception of the world and moreover to understand and deal with occurrences in our own lives that create or derive from victimhood, which might interfere with our forgiveness of others.
- Continue thesis writing.
- For each of the following, devote 500 or more words:
- Describe your views on spiritual maturity and reaching spiritual potential.
- What do you see as the practices of evolved people, and do the practices develop spiritual liberation?
- How do you see the difference if any between improvement, change and transformation, and what do you feel about radical forgiveness?
- Has there been a time in your life when you experienced “spiritual lightening”, and did it serve to eliminate a self-sabotaging habit?
- How can laughter and humor occur or persist “out of time” and liberate one from a “thinking mind”?
- How do you see and value radical self-forgiveness, do you see it a as a potential in your life and how could you employ it?
- How differently do you view ordinary experience and an existential encounter?
March The Future of God (3 credits)
- Referring to Karen Armstrong’s book The History of God, explore (2000 or more words) according to her the future of god in our society, and mention any disagreements you have.
- Referring to the above-mentioned 5 major religions (see October curriculum), describe (2000 or more words) the major goal of each, and how they may or must differ.
- Chose one verse or section from the Talmud and prepare (1000 or more words) a discussion thereon.
April Atheism (3 points)
- Write (3000 or more words) about Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion and several selected essays from Christopher Hitchens’ collection of third party essays in The Portable Atheist including essays by Lucretius, Darwin, Russell, Sagan, Updike and Dawkins.
- Chose and write about (500 or more words) a selected verse or section from the Quran.
May Final Thesis (15 points)
- Submit final thesis by May 15. See introduction at beginning for required length and content.
Practicum (6 credits) To occur throughout school year.
- Field work in interfaith ministry, and practice in counseling, teaching, performing ceremonies and worship services.
Retreat and Graduation
- Intensive retreat at Ananda Ashram, Monroe, NY, the second week of June.
- Graduation in NYC, the last day of Retreat June 17.