Discovering Religious Diversity series

Classes ➞ Religious Diversity ➞ Discovering Religious Diversity series

• DISCOVERING RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY series:

Exploring the diverse belief traditions contributing to New Zealand society.

The Discovering Religious Diversity series:

Learn about the history, development and contemporary practice of the world’s major religions in this introductory series of Term courses. Each Term has a different focus and covers different material. The first two Terms focus on the history and development of each of the world’s main faith and belief traditions, while the second two Terms focus on Selected Topics in the Contemporary Practice of each of the major world religions. In the first half of this four-Term series, we explore both Western and Eastern Traditions. In the second half, we look at selected topics in the contemporary practice of religion, focusing on a different topic during each class, and viewing how each religion approaches that particular topic. Structuring discussions in this way allows us to focus on the similarities between the major world religions rather than on any perceived differences. The second half of this series focuses on a comparative examination of the contemporary values and practices of the major world religions, and involves a critical exploration of lifecycle rituals and beliefs, from birth to death, food and clothing preferences, festivals and other activities associated with what religions do.

All classes are taught from an objective point of view. These are classes about religion and religious behavior, taught from an anthropological point of view, and are designed for participants to get a greater understanding of the depth and scope of the diversity that exists within the world’s various faith and belief traditions.

Any Term course can be taken independently of any other Term course. There are no prerequisites for any of the Religious Diversity courses.

Registration for our 2020 Term 4 courses is available now on our Registration page.


RD101: “History & Development: Western Religions”

Offered: 2020 Terms 1 & 2 – Te Awamutu

This eight-session course begins with “An Evolutionary History of Religion and Religious Behaviour” which encompasses the dawn of early human spirituality through to the emergence of polytheism and the Neolithic Revolution. Subsequent sessions focus on the rise of monotheism in Ancient Mesopotamia (including Zoroastrianism). In subsequent weeks, we will explore the history and development of the Western religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Other Western Religious traditions (e.g. Bahá’í Faith, Secular beliefs) will be viewed in the “Other Isms” course, offered as a part of the “Contemporary Issues in Religion” series.

This course is currently being taught in Te Awamutu as four class sessions per Term throughout 2020. While 2019 Term 3 focused on the Evolutionary History of Religion and the Rise on Monothesism, and 2019 Term 4 focused on Judaism, 2020 Term 1 focused on Christianity and 2020 Term 2 focuses on Islam.


RD102: “History & Development: Eastern Religions”

Offered: 2020 Terms 3 & 4 – Te Awamutu

This eight-session course looks at the rise of the Indus Valley Civilisation and the history and development of the Eastern religious traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Other Eastern Religious traditions (e.g. Sikhism, Jain Faith, Chinese and Japanese religions, Bahá’í Faith) are examined in the “Other Isms” course, offered as a part of the “World Religions” series.

The Discovering Religious Diversity series is currently being taught in Te Awamutu as four class sessions per Term and RD102 is offered there in 2020 Term 3 with a focus on the Indus Valley Civilisation and Hinduism, and in 2020 Term 4 with a focus on Buddhism.

This course is currently being offered in 2020 Term 4 in Te Awamutu only.

Term 4 Registration for this Te Awamutu course is found on our Registrations page.


RD103: “Contemporary Practice: Selected Topics 1”

Next Offered: 2021 Term 1 – Hamilton & Te Awamutu

The course focuses on a comparative examination of the contemporary values and practices of the major world religions, and involves a critical exploration of lifecycle rituals and beliefs, from birth to death, food and clothing preferences, festivals and other activities associated with what religions do. During this Term the following topics are covered:

Week 1: Image and Iconography; Week 2: Sacred Time: Cosmology & Creation; Week 3: Sacred Time: Calendars, Holy Days & Festivals; Week 4: Sacred Spaces; Week 5: Prayer and Worship; Week 6: Food and Ritual; Week 7: Sacred Clothing; and Week 8: Sacred Music.


RD104: “Contemporary Practice: Selected Topics 2”

Next Offered: 2021 Term 2 – Hamilton & Te Awamutu

This Term continues with a new series of topics that focus on a comparative examination of the contemporary values and practices of the major world religions, and involves a critical exploration of lifecycle rituals and beliefs, from birth to death, food and clothing preferences, festivals and other activities associated with what religions do. During this Term the following topics are covered:

Week 1: Rites of Passage: Birth and Coming of Age Ceremonies; Week 2: Rites of Passage: Marriage; Week 3: Asceticism, Monasticism and Renunciation; Week 4: Sacred Journeys and Pilgrimage; Week 5: Going Beyond: Esoteric Traditions & Mystical Experiences; Week 6: Ethical Ideologies; Week 7: Rites of Passage: Death and Bereavement; Week 8: Interfaith Perspectives on the Golden Rule.


CURRENT OFFERINGS (2020 Term 4):

This series of classes is only currently being offered in Te Awamutu throughout 2020. Courses in our other Contemporary Issues and World Religions series are currently being offered in Hamilton in 2020.

TE AWAMUTU classes in this series meet on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays during school Terms from 6:30-9:00pm for a total of 4 sessions per Term. As a part of the ongoing series of classes on the “History and Development of the Western & Eastern Religious Traditions” in our Discovering Religious Diversity series, our 2019 Term 4 sessions focused on “Judaism” while our 2020 Term 1 classes looked at “Christianity” and our 2020 Term 2 examined “Islam.” Our 2020 Terms 3 & 4 courses will focus on the History & Development of the Eastern Religious Traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism, respectively.

  • 2020 Term 4 classes are held on 21 Oct, 4 Nov, 18 Nov and 2 Dec 2020.
  • Classes are held at St John’s Anglican Church, 162 Arawata Street, Te Awamutu

HAMILTON: Classes in this series are not currently offered in Hamilton in 2020.


Term 4 Cost and Registration information is available now on our Registration page.


page last updated on 26 September 2020.