King, Camus, Armstrong

Note to Group Five: 


Those of you who are reporting on these three texts should aim not only to ask questions about the individual selections but also to help your classmates see connections among them.  The third question about King is a good example of how to do this.



1. What does King mean by "meeting physical force with soul force"?  Is King's meaning of "soul" different from Moore's?

2. King states "that unearned suffering is redemptive." What does this mean?

3. Is King in any way an American Sisyphus? Or is this comparison a false analogy?

4.  Think back to DuBois, Loury, and McIntosh:  do you see any connections?


These six questions are from the GNED 102 website:

1. What is the story of Sisyphus? Who is Sisyphus meant to represent, and what is the lesson of his story?

2. Sisyphus is identified as the “absurd hero.” What does this mean?

3. What is the profound futility of Sisyphus’s task meant to represent? What does it get you thinking about? Does it correspond in any way to conventional religious perspectives on the nature of the world? In what ways does Sisyphus’s response diverge from the traditional religious response?

4. What virtues does Sisyphus possess?

5. What are his vices?

6. Can Sisyphus’s response to his circumstances be called a religious response? Why or why not?

7. Does Camus's text suggest a perspective on work that diverges from Marx's perspective?  If so, how?


Dr. Fike's suggested quotations re. Camus

"All places that the eye of heaven visits / Are to a wise man ports and happy havens."  Shakespeare, Richard II 1.4.275-76

"Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content."  St. Paul--from prison, Philippians 4:11

"The purpose of life is to realize that thoughts are things."  Robert A. Monroe



1. Here is a question about "the legitimacy of other religions" from the introduction to Lewis's selection: "For example, how does Lewis know he's right and millions of Muslims are wrong?" Study the final paragraph on page 224 where Lewis states his positions on non-Christian religions. If you are a Christian, how DO you view Muslims?

2. Here is a similar question from the introduction to Armstrong's selection on page 232: "Islam regards Jesus as a prophet, not the Son of God. Is one religion correct and the other wrong? How should we deal with contradictory understandings of the sacred?" 

3. In what ways is Islam a corrective for the ills of the day in which Muhammad lived? Can you relate your answer to anything in contemporary America? Can you make a connection to Swimme's text or Marx's?  In what way was Islam's creation a response to consumerism or capitalism?

4. On page 237, Armstrong talks about the process of the revelation. What do you make of her comments on the manner in which Muhammad received the insights that later became the Koran? What can this account teach us about ourselves? How might something similar help us today in our own lives?  See

5. Here is an important quotation from page 239:  "Constantly, therefore, the Koran urges Muslims to see the world as an epiphany; they must make the imaginative effort to see through the fragmentary world to the full power of original being, to the transcendent reality that infuses all things."  Comment on the view of nature that is implicit in the Muslim view and do so in connection with the following statement from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: "If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite."  How does any of this relate to Eiseley's piece on the natural world and Moore's sense that we can feed the soul by paying attention to ordinary things?

6. Jesus said, "'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me'" (John 14:6). What does this mean to you, and how willing ARE you to believe that it is possible to come to Allah by reading the Koran? Do you believe that all believers are climbing the same mountain, just by different paths?