"The just shall live by faith," said the prophet Habakkuk; what is a constant and global fascination is the number of ways faith uses to express itself. In the arena of world religion, there are multiple belief systems; each one is endowed with its own special conversion stories, proclamations of group survival and controversies. That's good news for the student researcher, as he can find numerous strong topics in the global faith community.
Judaism, Blessed Historically
"I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee," says a well-balanced Yahweh in Genesis 12:3, as he promises prosperity and longevity to the line of Abraham. Given the historical perspective of followers of Judaism, the continued Jewish survival, despite endless persecutions, begs researching; a fruitful topic might be to analyze Judaism on a timeline, to determine if the religion is under a provable blessing that allows its continuance. A second topic might examine motives of the faith's activists, from Judas Maccabeus to Oskar Schindler.
Islam as Peaceful Co-Exister
"There needs to be a thorough examination, by Muslims everywhere," said Islamic author Salmon Rushdie, "of why it is that the faith they love breeds so many violent mutant strains." Rushdie himself, held under a decades-old fatwa to suffer execution from any devout Muslim, joins a growing chorus of Islamic believers who reject the terrorism bred of fundamentalists. An excellent research paper topic could examine Islam's origins in terms of its central faith message, and the attempts of its followers to repudiate terrorism and co-exist peacefully with other faiths.
Siddhartha to Buddha
One of the great puzzles of world religions is the conversion of the spoiled, wealthy Prince Siddhartha Gautama into the Buddha, a radical character and morality shift. A great research topic might be to chart the Buddha's life to discover the historical events and cultural shifts that influenced him, and to separate fact from legend in the matter of his Buddhist conversion. A second research paper might examine the economic and spiritual climate of India that allowed him to accumulate followers for his faith.
Conversions Through History
Saul of Tarsus's conversion into the Apostle Paul on the Damascus road is no less dramatic than the Gautama's; in a matter of days, according to Acts 9:1-9, he moved from persecutor of Christians to their strongest advocate. A fascinating research paper topic could examine similar conversions as they have occurred throughout history. One case in point is drug addict Chee Kent Tan, who went from dealer to policeman on his own "road to Damascus".
- Simple to Remember.com: The 7 Wonders of Jewish History
- Jewish Encyclopedia: Judas Maccabeus
- Jewish Virtual Library: Oskar Schindler
- University of Michigan: Fighting the Forces of Invisibility
- NPR: Books: Becoming 'Anton,' or, How Rushdie Survived a Fatwa
- University of North Carolina: Charles Kurtzman: Islamic Statements Against Terrorism
- World-Religions-Professor.com: How Siddhartha Gautama Became the "Buddha"
- The New Zealand Herald: Drug Dealer Hired as Police Officer
- Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images