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SELF-REFLEXIVE ESSAY ASSIGNMENT                                
(400-600 words; 1 1/2-3 pages, standard 10-12 pt font; 1 inch margins, 50 points)   
You will be responsible for a short, 2-3 page self-reflexive essay about your own religious/spiritual background, beliefs, and/or biases, including both a consideration of your own beliefs, and a brief description of your take on other traditions.  If you do not identify yourself as religious or spiritual, please discuss this.  Please also include at least a brief discussion of larger (or familial/local) cultural influences on your perceptions about religion, and/or detail specific experiences or individuals who have had an impact on your views about religion. 

The point of the exercise is to help you reflect on your own ethnocentric biases in order to help you better understand your personal responses to/attitudes toward/assessments of other cultural religious practices.  I expect you to write clearly and use good grammar, but you can write in an informal, personal style.  I want to hear your own voice here!

A) Organization: 5 pts
Coherent organization as a whole and within paragraphs and sections, appropriate use of transitions, coherent flow of ideas and development of ideas, including the support of general claims with relevant evidence

B) Language: 5 pts
Clear, good grammar, good spelling, appropriate capitalization, complete sentences, appropriate word choice

C) Specific details with respect to your perspective on religion: 20 points
    Include some specific details regarding your own perspective on religion.  Try to be as explicit and complete as possible in describing your own beliefs/attitudes, and include some discussion of your take on other traditions.

D) Analysis/explanation of cultural influences: 20 points
Include at least some consideration of ways in which your family, your peers, and/or your culture/any subcultures to which you belong have influenced your perspective on religion.  You can include some description of specific individuals or experiences that have had a profound impact on you—but try to also position these individuals/experiences within a larger cultural framework (e.g. several of the Missionary Benedictines I worked with in the Philippines told me of visions or altered states of consciousness—they interpreted what happened as signs from or communications from a Catholic God, as most of them were brought up Catholic and predisposed to understand extraordinary experiences in this fashion…).

As always, please see me if you have questions or would like me to review an outline or a draft of the essay.