As a religion major, I take many courses that focus on questions. Living with Death asks the question: What does our life look like despite the fact that we all, in the end, will die someday? New Testament Studies of Paul asks: Who is Paul and what does his identity mean in terms of Christianity and the Bible. While all classes start off with a question, religion classes have a knack for asking questions that make people uncomfortable.
RE 101 Literature of the Old and New Testament do this in a way that I think needs to be done in our society more often. I often explain that RE 101 is one of the most important classes for Wartburg students to take here. The Bible is everywhere. Throughout ones life they will encounter at least one person that has an intense relationship with the Bible or at least the God of the Bible (who is also the God of the Quran). Because of this I think it is so important that students learn about this ancient text and what it actually says.
Since everyone has to take this class here there are students from all backgrounds in the class. There are Christians of all sort, Jewish people, atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Hindus, etc, in this class. This makes for an interesting class period. Some come into it thinking they know everything about the Bible because they grew up heavily involved with their church back home. Others come into the class afraid to say a word because they know absolutely nothing about this book and the religion that created it.
This class makes one treat their belief system like a machine. RE 101 makes one take apart their machine, part by part, and examine the parts that comprise it. It makes them ask the question: Why do I believe this and what does that mean exactly? After the class is over the goal is that hopefully one has started from where they were and broken everything down to the bottom and then started to rebuild what it is they believe. Sometimes it is exactly the same machine, part for part. Sometimes it is a completely new machine, none of the same parts, Sometimes it is a machine that looks similar but has some new parts added and some old parts subtracted.
Everyone has to deal with religion in some way during their lifetime. I think it is important to try an understand where people are coming from since religion can be such a huge part of their lives a well as the whole society. Even though it is a Bible class, it allows for so much interfaith conversation to happen as well as shines light on a religion that many claim are ruining society while others claim will save the society.