The religious institution

The religious institution

This course introduces students to the empathetic approach to the study of world religions, which requires that we strive to “get into the shoes” of members of the world’s religions through dialogue. In order to help students understand and become familiar with the life of some members of world’s religions, students in the course are asked to visit a religious institution or VRI in their local city. You will then write what is called a VRI paper that captures your experience in detail. Think of the paper as a report on the institution combined with your reflections on the experience. In this paper you are asked to describe the institution, and its relation to the various traditions that you study, among other things (for example, identify whether the institution is a church in the Protestant or Catholic tradition; whether the institution is a Jewish synagogue in the Reform tradition; or if it is a Buddhist temple, whether it is Theravada). Be sure to read the Rubric for the VRI paper assignment for further details.

NOTE: The religious institution that I picked was a Chapel Annex to speak with Chaplain Elias J. Paulk of the Roman Catholic religion.








CRITERIA 1: USE OF SOURCES Does the paper use credible sources? Accurate

information from the institution’s “insiders,”

especially interviews of leaders and/or members; then

group’s website & other publications. Anything they

say about themselves should take priority. Also

important is information from students’ personal

observations during visit (things you would say or

point out). RSL1.1; CC1.2

Information is accurate; resources are

legitimate; resources include interviews of

insiders and are varied.

Information is accurate with only a

few minor errors; resources good

but not varied enough.

Information does not include

interviews is unreliable, based

on second-hand account, or

inaccurate; resources are

generally not valid

CRITERIA 2: BROAD CONTENT (8 dimensions)

Does the paper cover a broad spectrum of content

about the institution?

Information collected on the institution must include

the following eight dimensions: 1) description of

geographical location and history of group in Tampa;

2) the particular religious tradition the group claims

to represent; 3) defining beliefs and practice

(according to them); 4) meeting times, common

forms of worship and prayer; 5) leadership of the

group, and number of members; 6) “outsider” and

“insider” views of the group’s relationship to local

community); 7) and an “insider” answer to this

question: “What are some things you wish others

knew about your tradition?” DO NOT LEAVE

OUT #7; 8) general reflection on your overall

experience and how it illuminates or challenges

readings in class. RSL1.2


Paper includes all eight dimensions. Leaves out one to three dimensions

(not #7).

Includes five or less dimensions.

Is there a substantive and meaningful use of



Information is complete and helpful; notes

any convergence and divergence among


Information is only mostly complete

and simplistic.

Incomplete, incorrect, and/or

irrelevant information.





Paper tells a story about your experience of this


Experiences of the institution described

vividly, clearly relevant, and help reader

feel as if they had visited the religious


For the most part creative additions

are helpful in telling the story but

distract from the “broad content”

from criteria 2.

Creative narrative has little to do

with the institution and broad

content of the paper.


Does the paper have a logical flow?

Paper is coherent, with clear introduction,

language use, and conclusion; demonstrates

extensive and intimate knowledge of the

subject as well as all criteria of the rubric.

Paper is coherent for the most part

but missing important elements

from the broad content criteria. Few

spelling and grammatical errors

Paper lacks coherence. Spelling

and grammar errors are frequent

and distract from content.

REL 223 World Religions in Dialogue – VRI Paper Rubric. This assignment is worth 30 points. For each item, Solid Evidence = 7-10; Partial Evidence = 3-7; Little to No Evidence = 0-2

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