Interview essay | American history homework help

For this assignment you are required to sit down for a conversation with someone whose religious identity differs from your own (this means that if you identify as Christian, for example, you should find a conversation partner who does not identify as such). The purpose of this exercise is for you to engage with someone else in conversation. That means that you will not only ask questions, but you will hopefully answer questions about your own beliefs, as well.

Review the article for this activity, “Talking About Religion – How to Do It Right” (link in Required Resources), for some guidance on how to engage in conversations about religion before meeting with your partner. You may also wish to share this information with your partner.

In this exercise, you will listen to the ideas of someone who you identify as religiously “other.” You will share your own ideas and report on what you learned. This would include what you learned about your conversation partner’s beliefs, and how those beliefs compare to your own religious upbringing and/or current practice.

The report should give a description of the major topics of discussion and a detailed summary of what you learned. As part of your assignment you should include the following:

  • Describe your conversation partner’s beliefs. Some things to consider include the following:
    • What are the material expressions of their tradition (statues, paintings, music, etc.)?
    • Do they see any conflict between the stated beliefs of their tradition and their own beliefs?
    • Based on your partner’s description, which theory of the origin of religions (Week 1) offers the best explanation for their approach to religion?
    • What challenges can your partner identify that their religious tradition faces in the modern world? Do they feel that their tradition is responding positively?
    • Is the tradition focused on belief (orthodoxy) or behavior (orthopraxis)?
    • Apply the 8 elements of religion from Week 1.
  • Provide some cultural and historical context for the religious tradition of your conversation partner. (It is important that you do some research before you have your conversation so that you are able to ask informed questions that come from genuine interest.) Make sure you use citations in your discussion of what you learned from your research.
  • Compare your partner’s beliefs and practices to your own religious upbringing and/or current practice. This is to be done in the report not as a debate with your partner.
  • Conclude with your personal reaction to this experience and any additional questions that came up after your conversation. Be kind!

This is a formal academic paper so pay careful attention to the basics of writing a good English composition.

Writing Requirements (APA format)

  • Length: 1000-1200 words (not including title page or references page)
  • 1-inch margins
  • Double spaced
  • 12-point Times New Roman font
  • Title page
  • References page (minimum of 1 scholarly source)

Talking about religion – how to do it right.

Religion, like politics, is something polite people aren’t supposed to talk about, particularly at the dinner table. And there’s sound reasoning for this: Passions can flame, voices spike, dissent can explode into disputes long-festering.

But if one never talks about religion, how will one ever learn? And that’s seen as vital now as society is becoming more multicultural, more multidenominational and ever more vocal.

“Over the years, I have noticed several changes,” Vasudha Narayanan, director of the University of Florida’s Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions, wrote in an email. “People are less than shy about talking about religion; in fact, they wear it on their sleeves and also display it through their car bumper stickers.”

Narayanan, a religion professor and author or editor of seven books, including Hinduism, believes talking about religion is a “good thing.” What’s important, she stressed, is talking the talk in a “nonconfrontational” manner.

(Curious about upcoming religious holidays? Check the internet., for one, offers a month-by-month calendar.)

“The trick to a good religious conversation is humility, humour and sincerity – applied in the right way,” Stephen Asma, a philosophy professor at Columbia College in Chicago and author of Why I Am a Buddhist: No-Nonsense Buddhism With Red Meat and Whiskey. “If you approach a friend or acquaintance with a humble attitude – the opposite of missionary zeal – you’ll start a more honest dialogue. Sprinkle in a little bit of humour about your faith (yes, even serious believers should have a sense of humour) and ask sincere questions.”

“Sincerity about your motives is crucial,” Asma added. “Many people maintain devotion to their beliefs by harbouring secret disdain for every other faith. If you’re just baiting someone in order to roll your eyes later with like-minded friends, then you’re not having a genuine interfaith conversation.”

Jane Larkin of Dallas, who writes about parenting for and pens a column on intermarriage for The Jewish Daily Forward, says she and her husband, an Episcopalian, talk about religion all the time with their 9-year-old son. This is a change for her. Growing up, religion was discussed only by “people who were very observant or crazy,” she said.

“We want our son to grow up understanding religion is not a forbidden topic, and he needs to be able to speak about it,” said Larkin. “It is very much in your face down here, and you need to be able to talk about it, take a position and support it.”

Why does talk of religion generate so much heat?

“It often comes from a gut place rather than a heart place, and a gut place is more reactive,” said the Rev. Shannon A. White, pastor of the Wilton Presbyterian Church in Connecticut.

“When you talk to someone about your religion or religion in general, it’s important to come from the heart place,” she said. “You are not trying to change people. You are interested, curious even, in the other person and what their experience is.”



Be honest. “A wonderful conversation starter is, ‘I don’t know anything, or I don’t know much about your religious practices and I would appreciate it if you can help me understand the significance of your upcoming holiday,'” said Stuart Matlins, a Woodstock, Vt.-based publisher of Skylight Paths, a publishing house specializing in religious-themed books, and co-editor of How to Be the Perfect Stranger: The Essential Religious Etiquette Handbook.

Reach out bravely. “Say you grow up a fundamentalist Christian in southwest Missouri, and the people you congregate with are from a similar background. If you have never talked to someone of a different ilk, it can be scary talking to someone outside the fort,” said Susan Campbell, the East Haven, Conn.-based author of a memoir titled Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl. “But the fort is completely boring. It’s like reading newspaper columnists who completely agree with you.”

Realize culture and religion are often deeply intertwined. Gain insight into religion, said Vasudha Narayanan, a religion professor at the University of Florida, through food, music, dance, performance and other cultural activities.

Stay calm. “Religion is so emotional,” said Jane Larkin, who writes for “It’s sometimes hard to walk away or take a deep breath. You will never change someone’s mind with an emotional reaction. Stay calm, state your position.”

Realize generational or cultural differences can add tension. Put, for example, parents who moved here from another country with their more North Americanized children and there “may be an energetic discussion,” said Edgar Hopida, communications director for the Islamic Society of North America.

Be willing to change the subject. “Sometimes you have to pick your battles,” said the Rev. Shannon A. White, pastor of Wilton Presbyterian Church in Connecticut. “Sometimes you can change the subject and say, ‘I don’t want to go there.’ Or you can say, ‘We agree to disagree,’ which is not easily bought by someone who needs to be right. You just say, ‘There are a lot of different viewpoints. I’m just expressing one. ‘”

University of California instructor Nirvikar Singh (left) speaks to students at the Sikh Gurdwara in San Jose, Calif. The students are taking part in field trip to the San Jose temple as part of Singh’s class on the Sikh culture and religion.


Talking about religion – how to do it right. (2014, May 1). Record, The (Kitchener/Cambridge/Waterloo, ON). Retrieved from

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Ting about religion – how to do it

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