Theological Notebook: Designing on a Course on Teaching on Moral Theology, and Next Semester
I went in to consult with some of the faculty this afternoon about a new course we are offering for our new degree program in Catholic Theology, which is an undergraduate program that, in distinction from the regular Theology major, is geared toward preparing Theology teachers for Catholic high schools. This course they're putting together is specifically for preparing students to teach a program in Moral Theology or Ethics. I definitely had some thoughts as to what went into a more successful, serious, challenging moral formation for high school students, particularly from observing the experiences of my friend Patrick McCurry when we taught at Saint Joe, after I had recruited him for exactly that position. But I'm no ethicist, myself, even if I know some of the principles, and while it would have been great fun to design and give this course, I would have to do all the necessary reading for the first time, myself: both assignments and background reading. That's just not feasible while I'm dissertating. So I had to pass on actually taking the course, as I'd let Dempsey and Mueller know up front would almost certainly be the case. But I was glad to be able to describe and promote the content and approach that gave students a solid, or even extraordinary, experience. Kids react so positively in the face of real content, a strong introduction to philosophical moral reasoning, grounded in a real metaphysics, because all they've ever gotten is politics: moral conclusions and programs, without ever being coached in the methods of reasoning involved, which is true of most adults, too.
But in the course of the discussion, I moved from teaching two more Intro courses next semester to taking two sections of Theology Through the Centuries, which is basically described as: "Trinity, Incarnation and Salvation in the history of Christian thought over a substantial portion of its range." This is the same course I assisted Mickey Mattox with during my first semester as his assistant, and he let me take a very active role in it, so I already feel like I've some experience with it, and I can teach a number of texts I've already used, so I'm not too concerned with my prep for this. There are lots of lessons I've already written, even many for my Church History class at Saint Joe, that are ready to be tweaked into undergrad-appropriate form without too much effort, and so I think I can manage this with my dissertation commitments without much struggle. I'll also not mind going on the market with another very general and adaptable course like this one already prepped and ready to go.
Initial thoughts: Augustine's The Confessions (Boulding translation), Benedict's The Rule, Anselm Proslogion or Cur Deus Homo?/Why Did God Become Human? (probably the latter), Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love (A Lesson in Love version), something from Luther (On Christian Liberty or some of his breakthrough material on the Letter to the Romans), hmmm... something patristic before Augustine, maybe Justin's Logos theology, and something 20th century, maybe Vatican II's The Church in the Modern World, or parts of it. Such fun! If it's small enough a group (being in the spring should help with that) I might do it more in a seminar format....