The Faces of God (graded)
Hinduism offers as one explanation for its many gods that humans need concrete representations of the formless absolute. Also, finite minds can perceive the infinite only in a limited way, according to taste and temperament, cultural background, and other factors. Religions such as Christianity or Judaism view God in carefully defined ways that restrict the names and personality that reflect the divine. Yet even here, the way that God is pictured varies. Reflect on the images you have had of the divine, and interview friends about images they have had. How have these pictures in your mind changed since you were a child? Is it possible they will continue to change as you age or as you study religion more deeply? How do you account for this process, and how would you attempt to measure the correctness of one image over another?
Jainism and Ahimsa (graded)
Jainism has five ethical principles, the first of which is ahimsa, or, nonviolence towards all living creatures. Some Jains sweep the ground in front of them to avoid killing small insects. Jains are also strict vegetarians, and some reject the use of any animal products such as leather and jewelry. Do you think this kind of ethic is reasonable for all people or only a minority? Argue the case for or against such strict principles.