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For this essay, you will need to identify the ‘root metaphor’ or central idea of your own life. This paper must have a thesis, as per the Gordon rule requirement. You must submit at least 1200 words, include your thesis, and a bulleted plan for any parts missing from your essay to receive full credit on the first draft. Make sure the paper is double spaced. I want to be able to see how you are developing your ideas and how you are supporting your thesis.



For this essay, you will analyze yourself using the theoretical frameworks for analysis presented in this class. The purpose of this assignment is to assess whether you understand the basic concepts of the study of religion by identifying what is sacred in your life and then demonstrating how whatever is sacred in your life gives you hope and power to not be overcome by the human problem and the problem of evil.

1. Have an intro paragraph where you identify what is sacredor what you worship in your life. This will serve as your thesis for this assignment.

2. Spend the first part of the body of your essay clearly articulating what is sacred in your life, and how it acts in your life according to the definitions below:


What you worship:

“Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship—be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles—is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story.” -David Foster Wallace,

This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life


How what we worship acts in our lives

: “Religion [or the sacred] is (1) a system of symbols which acts to (2) establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in [people] by (3) formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.” –Clifford Geertz [Brackets my own]

3. Spend the second part of the body of your essay articulating and demonstrating how what you worship, (or what is sacred to you), and how it acts in your life gives you fulfilment despite the human problem.

a. “The Human Problem is the cause of distress, strife, and ignorance. It’s the cause of overwhelming senses of alienation, weakness, & inadequacy in our lives.

Plainly, it’s the emptiness and lack of fulfillment in the human experience

. The impact of the human problem is that most humans agree that life is not what it should be.” -Lecture 10

4. Spend the third part of the body of your essay articulating and demonstrating how what you worship, (or what is sacred to you), and how it acts in your life gives you hope despite the problem of evil and suffering in the world, so that you are not overcome by despair and hopelessness.

a. The problem of evil and suffering are realities humanity must deal with, that we all experience. This is evil, injustice, and suffering that exist in us, around us, and generally in the world.

5. Have a conclusion paragraph where you restate your thesis in light of what you’ve argued above.

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