Every student who graduates from Carthage with a major in religion must complete a substantial research work or project. Students work on this senior thesis with a directing professor, and it counts as a religion course (REL 4000: Senior Seminar).
The work produced for these senior theses is very creative, and many projects are interdisciplinary, combining religion with theatre, communications or classics study. In the past, students have written plays, produced radio programs, or focused on archaeological excavations.
Rockin’ Out for Jesus – Zachary Wolf
Rockin’ out for Jesus is here to stay! This musically simple form of expression has assumed a prominent position alongside the chants, madrigals, and hymns that have long characterized public Christian worship. But will the growing complexity and virtuosity of the rock scene call forth a yet newer, reformed genre? Zachary Wolf’s careful analysis of music history both inside and outside church walls provides a clue.
Cannibalism and Eucharist – Brent Mitchell
“Take, eat, this is my body.” Traditional adherence to the transubstantiation doctrine calls the faithful to identify the Eucharistic bread and wine with the body and blood of Christ. But this evokes a ghastly suspicion! Are we, as a people, tethered to a benighted past marked by ritual cannibalism? Brent Mitchell’s psycho-anthropological investigation unveils startling connections.
To Perceive God: Immanence & Transcendence — Nick Tackes
Ecstasy, intoxication, and sexual promiscuity: Scholars rave about the “gods gone wild” behavior of Shiva and Dionysius in the Shiva Purana and Euripedes’ Bacchae. Such provocative deities! Both challenge deeply the understanding of on-lookers … but then how can god ever truly be understood? Nick Tackes’ analysis of the Shiva Purana and Euripedes’ Bacchae explores the special challenges facing the lnarratives’ characters as they attempt to comprehend the nearly incomprehensible Dionysious and Shiva.
The Prosperity Gospel – Marguerite Harris
You, too, could be using a $23,000 commode. Just name-it-and-claim-it! From Essek Kenyon to Creflo Dollar, prosperity preachers have been fleecing their sheep. Rampant abuse even ignited a senate inquiry, resulting in Chuck Grassley’s pointed challenge to preacher David Meyer’s privy habits. Marguerite Harris’ spirited review of the rise of the prosperity gospel and its grip on the poor explores how it happened in our land of milk and honey.
Social Networking: Boon or Bane? — Heather May
Social networking continues to expand explosively in pop culture, fueled by an almost compulsive need among young people for continuous peer contact—preferably peer contact mediated electronically. Can church youth ministry programs survive without using social media, video clips, and canned music? Heather May carefully analyzes the developing interests among today’s Wisconsin teens in a bid to keep youth ministry alive and relevant.
Religion in the Culture of Bioethics – Sierra Nash
Medical professionals worldwide grapple with bioethical concerns. Organ donation, humanity of the fetus, and euthanasia all seem to call forth religiously conditioned responses. But do they? And who decides where religion drops off and science takes up? Sierra Nash’s analytic comparison of US and Japanese practices provides insight into the religio-cultural bearing upon bioethics.
Youth Ministry: Key to Church Growth — Abrah Volden
For many, the holy grail of modern Protestantism is church growth, and youth ministry seems to stand out as one especially mysterious component of the overall formula. True, churches that have formed effective youth ministry programs have better church attendance generally, but is this cause or effect? Abrah Volden explores the many avenues to improve church growth through formal youth ministry programming, thus capitalizing on the influence of the young upon their elders.
Saint Thomas and his Apostolate in India – Alpha Sabbithi
Saint Thomas (Didymus), in India? Three Indian Christian traditions insist on it. Evidence ranges from syncretistic ritual forms, to a putative tomb where the faithful report miraculous healing, to seven churches of mysterious origin. Benedict VI recently unleashed a storm of protest in India when he questioned the reliability of the tradition. Alpha Sabbithi’s historical inquiry assesses the likelihood of Saint Thomas’ Indian sojourn.
From Russia with Love — Elliot Culp
Set over in the Virgin Lands campaign, ethnic Russians, loyal to the Moscow Patriarch, constitute one quarter of the population of Kazakhstan today. But the Patriarchate is an agent of the Russian government, and thus Kazakhstanis find themselves challenged to establish their own identity distinct from their former occupiers, but without alienating this vast Russian swath of the populace. Elliot Culp offers his considered counsel.
Legalism and Mandatory Dress Codes – Alethea van Buren
A woman’s style of dress speaks. With careful selection she can display attitudes, intentions, and self-identity. But does God care? Yes, argues Alethea van Buren, though much depends upon whether the woman is under Biblical Law or Spirit Law. The first enforces outer discipline, the second flows from inner vitality. Van Buren explores religious communities which fail to recognize this distinction, thus imposing needless, detrimental, constraints upon women’s fashion choices.
Franquismo and Confessions across Gibraltar — Megan Szabo
Catholic Spain…Is that so? Today powerful influences, both ideological and international, bear on the religion of the historically monolithic Spain and the Church that fueled her worldwide discoveries. Megan Szabo probes—specifically at the “crossroads” of Andalucía—how the evolution of a formerly nationalized faith has proceeded, and how it is perceived in the increasingly globalized community.