To give you an idea of how the final exam period will be conducted, come prepared with these questions below, and we will discuss each of these in a round-table discussion. We will listen to the final projects, as well as watch the J.K. Rowling’s Harvard Commencement speech, and a few scenes from “Into Great Silence,” a film by Philip Groning.


Please answer three of the following questions. You may draw from our readings, film screenings, books, and class conversation. You should aim at 2 or 3 pages (each), doubled space (complete) for a total of 6 to 7 typed pages. Please give me this “Evaluative Final Exam” by Friday July 29. (30 total points toward final grade)

ESSAY #1. On our Francis Factor site – you will find five videos or interviews for your study. Select one for your viewing.

  • Billy Graham speaks on “Technology, Faith & Human Shortcoming.” This is a 1998 Ted Talk,” of insights into the place of religion and technology. This is worth listening and reflecting on.
  • James Carroll speaks to the key themes of his book “Christ Actually,” and deals with the person of Jesus for in the secular age.
  • “Does Religion Do More Harm than Good?” may be a question on your mind and many others when reflecting on the world situation. Malise Ruhvan, one of the top thinkers on this subject is one of four panelists worth listening to.
  • John Allen has written for the National Catholic Reporter and his most recent book deals with the persecution of Christians today. His report makes us more aware of how Christian missions in the Global South are under attack.
  • Rabbi David Wolpe & Christopher Hitchens play out the debate about God in a classic WGBH broadcast.

This short paper should be concise (2 or 3 typed pages) in which you have identified the central and controlling themes of the interview, speech or conversation.

You must include the following “critical perspectives” Your paper should simply be placed under these five headings:

  1. Description: pay close attention, take notes, and research the subject under study, and clearly state what the interview/panel is about?
  1. Analysis: focus on what significant patterns emerge from the interview/panel, and what are the overall themes considered?
  1. Interpretation: ask yourself “What does this mean?” For me and the audience of this interview/panel.
  1. Evaluation: arrive at your judgment, is this good, bad or mediocre? Were you engaged by your listening/viewing? Why? How?
  1. Engagement: connects your role as citizen/church member to question our media and/or church institution, add your own voice to the process of shaping the cultural, political or church environment. Maybe, how might you view this subject differently, after listening/viewing this interview/panel.

ESSAY # 2.

Apply Joy of the Gospel and Laudato Si to one of the major themes of this course.

Take one of the key themes for this course:

  • Pope Francis & Leadership,
  • Preaching in a New Key,
  • Christianity & Global Conflict,
  • Finding God in a Secular Age.
  1. What do you find in Pope Francis’s Joy of the Gospel and/or Laudato Si that speaks directly to this particular course theme?
  2. How does this section of the course reflect a particular understanding of the “Modern Church” and the pope’s concerns for the people and the world?
  3. How has this June 2016 course assisted you in seeing more deeply into “religious culture” today? Be specific in identifying the layers of meaning in this rich field of understanding. What points have you learned from this course? (2 or 3 pages)


ESSAY # 3.

Please reply to this questions for your careful response of 2 or 3 pages.

Of the feature length films we have seen in class:

  • Flowers of St. Francis
  • Risen
  • The Way
  • Of Gods & Men
  • Spotlight

Which film is your favorite? How might this film be considered a “religious film?” And Why? So many of these are recent films, how might the film address a particular issue or concern at this time for the film director, or for the general audience?

Please give evidence of your own impressions and points of view. You may write about your personal association with this particular film.

Class Project — Your “Symbolic Inventory” of Rome

Your time here in Rome is unique. For an overview of what you have experienced, I would ask for a personal report with a specific example of one aspect of “religious culture” in Rome.

We want to hear your voice, and you should use the first person to describe this person, place or thing that is so much part of the public religious culture — it may be idea about religion unique to Rome, a religious practice, a possible interview, or text (by this I mean an art work, a Church, a religious festival, papal audience, music, etc). Please let me know before hand what you are considering. 

This must be a personal and descriptive account of two pages of typed text — with presentation slides or audio. You will present your findings on Monday, Wednesday or Friday of our last week of classes.  

(20 points toward the final grade)

Monday, July 25 — Theresa Prinster, Yianna Papdeas, Molly Fitzgibbons, Emily Barr.

Wednesday, July 27 — Josephine Lindgren, Sara Lochmueller, Zichen Yu (Z), Taryn Deirmenjain.

Friday, July 29 — Nicole Shoemaker, Yongxuan Ji, Camille Mulcahy.


Monday, July 4 —

  1. How much do you know about religion? And how do you compare with the average American? Take this simple Pew Center Quiz on religion.
  2. Please view “The Flowers of Saint Francis,”(1950) by Roberto Rossellini, and answer the following questions. A. What does the film mean? How does it reflect society/religious life? B. What are the techniques employed by the director to tell this narrative? C. Is this a example of “film art?” D. Did you appreciate or “enjoy” this film, why or why not? http://

Wednesday, July 6 —

  1. Read Greg Tobin, “The Good Pope,” 1-97.
  2. Read Pope Francis, “Joy of the Gospel,” Chapters 1&2, pages 1-56.
  3. Read Mike Russo “Parish Priest of the World.” Overview.
  4. On Wednesday, we will view in class “Spotlight,” and please answer the following questions: A. What does the film mean? How does it reflect society/religious life? B. What are the techniques employed by the director to tell this narrative? C. Is this a example of “film art?” D. Did you appreciate or “enjoy” this film, why or why not? This short paper will be due for Monday, July 11, at the time of our class discussion. http://

Monday, July 11 —

1.  Bring to class your draft review of “Spotlight,” for class discussion. The completed paper is due on Wednesday, July 13.
2. Read “preaching journey.” Read
3. Read “Joy of the Gospel,” Chapter 3: Gospel Proclamation, pages 56-87.
4.  Tobin, “The Good Pope,” Part 2, pages 97-181.

Wednesday, July 13 —

1. Read Marshall McLuhan, “The Medium & the Light.”

2. Read “Joy of the Gospel,” Chapter 4: Social Dimension, pages 89-143.

3. View Kevin Reynolds’ “Risen” (2016, 107 Mins.) http://
4.. Read Tobin, “The Good Pope,” Part 3, pages 185-247. Prepare your draft book report, based on these comments & questions.

Your book report should be at a minimum two-typed pages single space or four-typed pages double space. You are to support your claims about the book with direct reference to the text, and you must cite the text and provide the page citations.  Over my years of teaching, it has been my experience that, when students are dealing with materials new to them, they often have difficulty in sorting out what is particularly significant in a work from supporting examples, illustrations, and arguments. To help you cope with some of these problems, I ask you to approach each of the books with the following questions in mind–and come to class prepared to answer them in brief statements for each question.

Your paper is due on Monday, July 18.

1. What is the central thesis of this work?
2. On what questions, or assumptions, or points is the work built?
3. What are the major terms or concepts central to this work, and how does the writer define these terms?
4. What are the methods of argument or kinds of evidence used to develop and support the thesis of the work?
5. In your judgement, what are the limitations, shortcomings, errors or weakness of the work?
6. In your judgement, what are the major contributions of this work to your understanding of communication, religion and culture?
7. What relationships do you see between this and other works you may have read? In this course, or in other courses? What interesting questions(s) or problem(s) does this work suggest to you?

Please Re-type each of the above questions, and answer (as many questions as you can) in order. Please refer to specific pages of the text. Cite page references. And draw your analysis from the text itself!

Your report should be two-typed pages single space or four- typed pages double space. Please write an analytic interpretation of the key themes, ideas and problems presented in the works. 

Monday, July 18 —

  1. “The Good Pope,” book review due.
  2. Read “The Joy of the Gospel” to conclusion.
  3. Read “Laudato Si,” Chapter 1 & 2.
  4. Read James Carroll, “Christ Actually,” Introduction


Wednesday, July 20 —

  1. Read “Laudato Si,” Chapters 3,4,5.
  2. Read James Carroll, “Christ Actually,” Chapters 1 & 2.

View Xavier Beauvois’s “Of Gods & Men”(2010, 2h2m)


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