REL 360 Presents: Citizenfour


The second meeting of REL 360–our one credit hour course–will be viewing Citizenfour. This 2014 documentary follows director Laura Poitras during her investigation into the rise of government-run monitoring programs in the U.S. after the September 11th bombings. During her research, she begins to receive emails from a stranger known only as Citizenfour, who leaks classified information concerning illegal wiretapping practices conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA). Poitras and two other investigative journalists fly to Hong Kong to meet with Citizenfour, who soon agrees to go public with both his unearthed information and his identity. Continue reading

Backstory: Prof. Matthew Bagger


Backstory” is a series that asks the REL Faculty to tell us a little bit about themselves, to explore how they became interested in the academic study of religion and their own specialty, elaborating on their current work both within and outside the University. Continue reading

REL Movie Nights Return with Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai


Our one credit hour course–REL 360–returns for the fall semester with the showing of Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. This 1999 crime/action film follows “Ghost Dog”, a hit-man for the mafia who models his life by the code of the samurai. When one of his missions goes awry, causing him to leave a witness alive, Ghost Dog himself becomes a target of the mafia. Continue reading

Writing Well: An Incomplete Set of Guidelines


It’s that time of the semester: final essays. But before you mash the
print button or send that paper to your professor, you should take a
quick look at this writing advice from Prof. Matthew Bagger. Prof.
Bagger gave these tips to his REL 360 course but they are helpful for any papers you may have coming due this semester.

“If there’s anything [God] hates, it is… oozy writing.”

–William James (1905)

A good persuasive essay presents a cogent and compelling argument with clarity, elegance, and verve.  The following guidelines should help you craft an effective essay.

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REL 360 Movie Night: Killer of Sheep

Killer of Sheep Poster 2

Rel 360–our one credit hour course–is presenting its last movie of the semester, concluding the series on Democracy, Race, and Religion by showing the 1977 film Killer of Sheep. Selected by the National Society of Film Critics as one of the “100 Essential Films” of all time, Killer of Sheep focuses on the life of Stan, a dreamer trapped in the mind-numbing job of working at a slaughterhouse in L.A. The film shows bleak moments of happiness in Stan’s life, such as enjoying the warmth of coffee in the morning or  experiencing the simple joy of holding his daughter. The film offers no solutions for his problems, it only presents life as it is. Continue reading