Experience Project Guidelines

Experience Project Guidelines

In order to complete this assignment, you will viewthe religious services of two traditions other than your own. This assignment will give you the opportunity to learn about other people’s religious beliefs and practices, and about how religion is experienced by members of two particular religious communities. After viewing the services, you will write a 4-5 page paper discussing and comparing the services.

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Choosing Services to View:

The first step is to choose two online services toview. The services should be from two different religions, and both should be significantly different from the religion you currently practice/grew up in.  If you aren’t sure, talk to me ahead of time (for example, if you are any kind of Christian – Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, etc. – you should NOT view a Christian service for this project). Below these guidelines in the module I have posted a list of links for possible services that you can view online for the project.You are not restricted to only the services on this list, but if you want to use one that is not on the list, then you should email me a link for me to approve it BEFORE you use it for the project.


As you view the services:  

Pay close attention to all the different aspects of the services – what is happening, what everyone is doing, who is leading, what is being said, etc. Also be sure to pay attention to your own reactions to different parts of the services.


Writing the Paper:

Write a 4-5 page paper (it should be at least 4 full pages, and try not to go too much over

5) about your virtual service experiences.  Papers should be submitted through the

Turnitin link on Canvasby midnight on Sunday, November 15th(late papers will be

downgraded by 10 points, and will NOT be accepted after November 22nd).  Papers must

use standard formatting (1 inchmargins, 12 point Times New Roman font, double-spaced

pages) and employ correct, college-level grammar, spelling, and style.At the top of the

first page, include the names of the two religious organizations(and if one of them is

not on the list I provided, include the website/url for that serviceas well). 


IMPORTANT: This is not a research paper, and therefore you are NOT required to use any outside sources when writing your paper (and in fact, I recommend that you do not use any).  However, if you do decide to bring in any outside material (from a website, article, book, etc.), it should only make up a very small percentage of your paper, and you MUST cite your sources properly.  This means that any writing in your paper that is not your own MUST be in quotes (“  ”), and you MUST include a footnote stating the source of that writing.  Changing a few words or the order of a sentence does NOT make it your own writing.  The Turnitin software through which you will submit your paper on Canvas will catch any instance of plagiarism in the papers, and all papers that include any plagiarism will receive a ZERO – no exceptions.


Introduction:Please begin the paper by briefly(no more than half a page!) explaining your own religious background and why you chose to view these two particular services.


Descriptionof each of the two services Your paper should include TWOmain sections, one for each service you view. Within each of those two sections, you should address SOMEquestions from EACH of the following three categories. You do NOT need to address every single one of the questions below (not all of them will be relevant to every service) – you should focus on addressing the questions that make the most sense for each service you view. You should be writing about 1.5-2 pages per service. The point is not to recap the services in exhaustive detail, but rather to summarize and highlight some of the most significant aspects of each service and the community that held it:


  • Description of the Ritual/Service itself:
  • Who was leading? Was there only one leader or were multiple individuals involved?  What took place (i.e. what were the different elements of the ritual)?  What did participants do?  Was there music and/or dance in the service?  Was there a sermon or talk of some kind?  If so, what was it about?  What was the content of the ritual (i.e. what ideas/messages/beliefs/sacred stories were expressed in the sermon, scripture readings, hymn/songs, etc.)?  Were any material objects used during the service(statues, food, incense or candles, etc.)?  What was the general atmosphere of the event (somber, joyful, etc.)?


  • Description of other major aspects of the event:
  • Location: Where is the event held? Is it indoors or outdoors?  What does the building/worship space look like?  Is there interesting architecture and/or religious art (that you can see in the video)?  How are participants arranged/seated?
  • Participants: As far as you can tell, what is the makeup of the group in terms of race, gender, age, socioeconomic class, etc.? What type of clothing was everyone wearing?
  • Your experience: What was your reaction to the service in general, and/or to specific things you saw and heard?


      3)   Interpretation:

  • What did you learn about this group from viewing the service?What conclusions can you draw about the values of this group from viewing their online service (for example, about things like gender roles, dress/modesty, or social issues)? What do their surroundings and manner of worship say about who they are as a community?
  • Try to place yourself in the shoes of those in attendance.Based on what you observed, why do you think individuals attended/participated in the service?What do you think they gain from attending services, both in a religious and social sense? Why do you think they belong to this particular group/organization?



Conclusion: You should finish your paper with a brief conclusion (about half a page) comparing the two services that you viewed. What were the most striking differences – and similarities – between the two services you viewed? You can look to the questions above for ideas about things to compare. What can you now say about the human religious experience?In other words, based on these services (and your own personal experience of religion), do you feel that there is something universal about how humans experience the sacred?



Grading:Your paper grade will be based on the following:

  • Whether or not you followed instructions with regard to the services you viewed (20 pts)
  • The quality and detail of your discussion of service #1 (30 points)
  • The quality and detail of your discussion of service #2 (30 points)

4)   The quality and insightfulness of your interpretation (20 points)

5) Whether or not you followed instructions with regard to the format of the paper, including spelling and grammar (20 pts)


Please consult the Rubric for more detailed grading guidelines! You can find it by clicking on the “Experience Paper” link in the Experience Project module, and then scrolling down.



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