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In ancient books, scrolls and papyrus, in sand and clay, carved in stone and wood and cliffsides -  ancient people wrote everywhere.   Some wrote on animal skins, leaves, turtle shells, and bamboo stalks.  

Many religions believe that God's writing is also to be found in nature itself.  The leaves blowing in the wind is the writing of God.  The shape of water rushing through a creek is the writing of God. The stripes of the tiger is the writing of God.

Western religions teach that God created everything through language, "Let there be light!"  And so  hidden within every physical thing are the holy words.  In Eastern religions the universe is ripple of vibrations from one great divine word - "Om".

You will find your own ripple of sacred language - a verse from a holy scripture. Your verse should be beautiful and meaningful to you.

I have many of the holy books in my classroom, others are in the library.  I have also picked out a number of important verses.  You may use these if you like, but be aware that you may be using the same verse as another student. 

You can also find your own verse.  Make an online search for significant verses  from the book you are interested in. Read a chapter of a holy book  and search for a meaningful verse.   Go to church and listen to the Bible verses being read.  Ask one of the Dominican Sisters on campus for her favorite verse.  Ask your Jewish relatives what Torah portion they learned for their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.  Ask your Muslim friend to recommend a verse from the Quran.  Or go to a Kung Fu class and see if the calligraphy hanging on the wall might just be a verse of Buddhist scripture.  Search until you find a verse that speaks to you with words that are powerful and beautiful.

"Early holy writing was recorded on palm leaves, camel shoulder bones, and upon the hearts of the believers."


You will be picking a verse from a holy scripture from a world religion and writing a short book on that verse, then publishing your book as a digital iBook for the iPad.  Make sure to pick an interesting verse that you really like and with substantial content that you can really write about.  Your verse should be between one and three paragraphs in length.

You will research and write several chapters about your verse.  Then combine your writing with images and sounds to make a beautiful iBook about your verse.  You will share your final book with the class and maybe even outside of class.

It will be updating this document as we go with due dates, corrections, elaborations and examples.  So keep checking in.  In general you should write each chapter in order.  However if you encounter an issue that compels you to write them out of order you may. 

I will give you plenty of time in class to research, write, and put together you iBook.  It is up to you to use that time well to avoid homework, or a lot of last minute work.   The only portion you cannot do in class part of Chapter Four, so you must find a time and a place to complete that outside of class. Everyone is creating their own book.  But along the way you will be helping each other.  In class I will can also help you one on one, so ask me if you have any questions or problems.

This project is a lot of work.  But it is broken into small and very manageable pieces.  And at the end you will have a wonderful iBook to share.  Keep that goal in mind – every section you write will be part of the final publication.  So make every section interesting, informative, well researched, well thought out, and well written.

First Step:  Find and choose a verse in class or create a plan for how to pick one outside of class (and tell M. Khan your plan).  Then begin...

First Chapter – The Book:   Write two to three paragraphs about the holy book that contains your verse.  Write about the origin, form, and content of the book. 

Answer as many of the following questions as possible: Who wrote the book?  What is the history of the book?  What religions is the book associated with? What language is the book written in?  How long is it?  Is it divided into sections?  What is it written on?  When and how is it read? Is it memorized?  Is it given special treatment? What is the book about?  Is it a story, a set of laws or philosophy?  Who are the characters?  What is the plot?  What are the main themes? 

If your verse is from the Bible (which is really a collection of many different books), you must determine and write about the specific biblical book containing your verse: the Torah, the Book of Psalms, the Book of Job, the Gospels,  Letter to the Ephesians, etc.

Sources:  You may read and paraphrase the relevant chapter in the Holy Books iBook, Grolier Encyclopedia, and the BBC Religion website.

DUE DATE: _________________________

Second Chapter – The Verse: In two to three paragraphs paraphrase and explain your verse. 

Describe the content of your verse. What does it mean in your own words?  Are there multiple ways to read or understand this verse?   What are some examples you can give to explain the verse?  Describe any unusual or interesting words and what they mean.  Describe the emotional or aesthetic  mood or tone of your verse.

DUE DATE: _________________________

Third Chapter – The Connection:  In two to three paragraphs describe how your verse represents the religion  associated with it.

Explain the references in your verse.  For example if your verse mentions Jesus, explain how Christians understand Jesus.   If your verse mentions Ramadan, explain how Muslims practice Ramadan.  If your verse is associated with Hinduism and it mentions death, explain Hindu beliefs about the afterlife. 

Next pick a theme or themes from your verse and describe how they connect with your religion in general.  For example, if I think that my Buddhist verse is very peaceful, I would choose peace as my theme.  Then I would find examples of how peace is expressed in the Buddhist tradition:  The Buddha never fought in any wars, killed or ate animals.  Buddhist laws forbid the carrying of weapons.  The modern Buddhist teacher, the Dalai Lama said “Peace We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”  Etc.

You will probably need to do additional research about the religion your verse is associated with (use the BBC Religion website).  Write up the explanation of your references and how the theme of your verse connects with the religious tradition in two to three paragraphs.

Pictures:  Take 10 pictures of imagery associated with your theme.  You may alter them with an app (I like pixlr-o-matic.)

DUE DATE: _________________________

Fourth Chapter – The Experience: Choose a time and place to listen to your verse in the original language and describe your experience in two to three paragraphs.

In the beginning was the word, and the Word was God.        
- Gospel of St. John

What makes words powerful? Is it the meaning, the vibration of the sound wave, or the power of the speaker? The words of saints and sages may come inspirationally from God. But from a prophet or a poet, when a word comes through a burning heart, it carries that flame into the hearts of those who listen.

Find an audio track of someone reading your verse in the original language (if you have trouble, I can help you find one).   Next, decide where would be the perfect place to listen to the reading (in nature, in the chapel, in your favorite part of your house) and the perfect time to listen (in the early morning, in the afternoon, at night).   Then take a calm silent moment to listen to your verse at that time and in that place.  Pay attention to how it sounds, how it makes you feel, what thoughts or images come to mind while listening.

Write two to three paragraphs about the experience. Why did you choose the place?  How is it like the verse?  Why did you chose the time?  How is it like the verse?  What does the verse sound like?  Give examples (like an elephant trumpet, like a group of bees buzzing, like a wind in the trees).  How does it make you feel?   What thoughts or images come to mind?

Pictures: Take 10 pictures of your place at the correct time.  

Audio:  1. Save an audio track of the verse read in its original language. 2.  Record an audio track of yourself reading the verse.

DUE DATE: _________________________

Chapter Five – The Effect: Write two to three paragraphs about the effect of this verse.

Answer the following questions:  Has reading and working with this verse given you any new inspiration?  Has it changed your mind about something?  If you followed the advise or themes in this verse how would your life be different (give specific examples)?  If everyone in the world followed the advise or themes in this verse how would the world be different (give specific examples)?   What is the future for this verse?  Will it continue to be read and translated into new languages?  Will it be forgotten?  Will it appear in some new form?

DUE DATE: _________________________

The Cover and (Digitally) Bind Your Book:

A holy Torah is written on a scroll. The text is written by hand and contains 304,805 Hebrew letters. If the scribe makes a single mistake, that page must be removed from the scroll and buried in the earth. A new page is then sewed into the scroll. The finished scroll is kept in an “Ark” on the side of the synagogue that faces Jerusalem.

The earliest known printed book (using carved wood block printing) was the Buddhist Diamond Sutra, produced in China in the 800s. The first book made with a moveable type printing press was the Gutenberg Bible, produced in Germany in the 1400s. Before this all books were copied by hand or memorized.

The art of typesetting printed books has revolutionized how information is recorded and disseminated. In the digital age we are now using codes like HTML in order to publish our words.

The Binding:  You will use the Book Creator App to put together your final book and share it as an iBook.  This program works similarly to the quickoffice powerpoint program we used earlier this year. 

The Cover: Create a cover with a picture, the name of your verse and holy book and your name.

The Front Page:  Create a front page of your verse typed in an interesting and colorful script, properly aligned and center on a colorful background or image.  Make sure verse is clear and readable.

The Chapters: You may decide to rearrange what you have written in your final book.  Just make sure you do not repeat anything.  Make your layout interesting with color, borders, chapter titles, interesting fonts.  Also make sure that every page is clear and readable.  And pictures and pictures, and more pictures (2-3 pictures per page). You can also alter or combine pictures with apps, make decorative picture borders, add text boxes over pictures, and add captions to your pictures. Add at least one picture of your verse in its original language and alphabet. Add the audio file of you reading the verse (either on the front page or later).  And add the audio file of the verse in its original language.

Publish and share your book!

DUE DATE: _________________________