Capstone Projects, Spring 2014 – Comparative Religion

Our students engage in studies across the globe exploring the interface of tradition and today. Here are the details: 

Eliza Mauhs-Pugh

REL Salon sp 14 - 15

Reconquista” is a historically fraught term that emerged in the nationalist context of the 19th century and has largely been rejected by historians due to its highly problematic implications, especially that of unified identity and rightful ownership.  However, a survey of twelfth-century Iberian texts, both religious and temporal in nature, reveals a narrative of conquest which evidences a contemporary understanding both of Iberian identity and rightful ownership of the Iberian Peninsula.  I hope to provide a window into twelfth-century notions of Iberian identity and, accordingly, the way in which reconquista might be re-imagined through an analysis of these texts, primarily the Codex Calixtinus, a largely liturgical work associated with the Camino de Santiago and housed at Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain.

Rachel Schachter


“Religion of the Heart: Zinzendorf’s Theology and its Implications for Sexuality in the Moravian Church Today” brings the Pietist theology of 18th-century Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to bear on contemporary discussions surrounding homosexuality and same-sex sex in the Moravian Church today. The theology of Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760) focused heavily on the mystical marriage in which the Church — and in this case each individual in the community — is a Bride of Christ. This theology, though it manifested itself in 18th-century General Economy Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, did not manifest itself fully. Within a context of Moravian Spirituality, refusal to condemn, or even willingness to condone, same-sex sex if it is mutually loving and reflective of union with Christ, is not as drastic of a break as it may seem.


Katelyn Cusmano

Religion and culture can affect many avenues of one’s life. This project examined the relationship between religion and medicine in the United States and in Ghana. Physicians in both countries were interviewed about how their religious beliefs as well as the religious beliefs of their patients have influenced their experience with patient treatment. In general, spirituality is more widespread in Ghana than in the United States. In addition, there are many differences in the available and commonly used medical treatments between the two countries. Despite these differences, it is possible to find commonalities between the role of religion and medicine in the two countries. Religion impacts how patients in both countries view their illness. In addition, religion is a major factor in psychiatric care and can also impact the treatment chosen by patients in the United States and Ghana. Because of the importance of religion on medical treatment, physicians in both countries should consider taking a spiritual history as part of a patient history. Studying the methods of healing in the context of Ghana and the United States is extremely important and provides information as to the most effective and efficient medical treatment for patients.