Scholars involved in the field of religious studies often interview religious practitioners in order to get a better idea of “lived religion”, or how individuals live out their religious beliefs, as it can often differ greatly from official doctrine and sacred texts. In order to get a better idea of the work done in the field of religious studies and how individuals live out their religious beliefs, you will be conducting an interview with someone who self-identifies as a practitioner of one of the traditions that we study in this course (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, or Islam).
In order to complete this assignment, you will need to:
Choose an individual in your life that you would like to interview and ask him/her if they would be willing to be interviewed for your project. This could be a family member, friend, neighbor, co-worker, classmate, etc. You can also contact a local house of worship if you are interested in interviewing someone from a particular faith but don’t know anyone personally.
Schedule a time for the interview that is convenient for him/her (be sure to let them know that the interview should take about 45 mns.). The interview could be conducted over phone or video-conferencing software (like skype, google hangout, zoom, etc) or done in person.
Compose a list of at least 10 questions for this individual about their religious beliefs and practices. You may choose from the list of example questions listed below, or compose your own questions.
Interview your subject. The interview should last about 45 mns and should focus on their religious beliefs and practices.
You should record the interview in some way – if it is done in person you could either bring a notebook and write down the subject’s answers or bring an audio recorder of some type (most smartphones have this capability).
Compose a 1000-word paper discussing the interview. The paper should address the following questions:
Who is your interview subject? What religious tradition are they a member of? Why did you choose this individual?
Describe the interview itself: what questions were asked and how did the individual respond?
You will not be able to include every question and answer, so focus on the responses that were most interesting to you
This should not be a transcript of the interview, but a summary of the questions you asked and how the subject responded to them.
Include one quotation from one of the readings that we did for your interview subject’s religion. The quotation should be used to illustrate something that was made clearer when conducting the interview, or something that contradicted what your interview subject.
Describe your subject’s demeanor: Did he/she seem nervous? Did they enjoy speaking about their religious beliefs? Had they ever spoken about them before to another person? Which aspect of their religious beliefs did they seem to enjoy speaking about the most? The least?
Did you learn anything new about the religious tradition that your subject practices?