A few days ago I wrote out my essay outline format for a paper I had to write. It actually ended up helping me out a lot and I did 8.5 pages in less than 3 hours.
Here is what the introduction–following the format–ends up looking like:
Since understanding often induces simplification, it is no surprise that the study of global religion is found lacking. Indeed, it seems that Christianity and ethnic religions are so diametrically opposed in their philosophies that the subjection of the latter by the former was inevitable. As author Joel Tishken points out, the current definitions for what constitutes religion regularly ignores “huge portions” of the world. (303) From this he asserts that scholars must rid themselves of the bias that world religion is “evolving” towards a monotheistic, Christian-like faith. Vine Deloria in his book “God is Read” begins with similar assumptions and adds that the evangelical nature of Christianity has set it on a crash-course towards domination and conversion of native peoples. The views of both authors are exemplified in the oral history told by Lin Custalow’s “The True Story of Pocahontas.” This book–serving as a microcosm of the conflict between Christian settlers and the indigenous people of American–shows the great chasm between ethnic and evangelical religion, and how their coexistence seems unlikely. Ultimately, Christianity and ethnic religions look at the world in vastly different ways and thus it seems inappropriate and even condescending to attempt to place the two in a singular category.*
I put the thesis in bold. In the comments section of the last one, someone argued that the thesis should actually go at the bottom of the introduction, which I think is a huge mistake. Since a paper is about make a clear point and then supporting it, don’t you think that means, logically, your clear point must come first? Your thesis is the constitution of your paper and then your support is the democratic practices. One is meaningless without the other preceeding it. Boldly stating your point and then elaborating why that is true makes a great impression on the reader than stating, first, what your evidence is and then later, what it means.
*Let me make it clear that I don’t necessarily believe what I wrote, although it was the correct interpretation of the works. I make this point because I just had to sit through a fellow student use the same logic to actually defend cannibalism in Mesoamerican tribes; which of course is absolutely idiotic.