Novak (novak) wrote,

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Theological Notebook/Personal: Students Signing Up; New Computer Lust; Theosis Writing Project

It is gratifying to have students coming up to me on the street to say that they're signing up for my class next semester, or to have freshman coming up after class, like today, and asking if and how they can get into the course. Especially after my first period today was kind of blah, where I felt like I was pulling teeth to try to get discussion going, except out of my usual suspects. Sometimes I cannot tell if it's my fault, if I'm not asking the right things or in the right way to get conversation flowing, or if it's a disinterest in the students themselves. I have to presume more my end of things, and work at what can be improved, although I suspect my first session always has the penalty of getting me first, and that I'm able to warm up on them, and use the knowledge of what did and didn't work so as to make my second session much more focused and successful.

It cracks me up that with this new computer now ordered, I find that expectation alone has made my perceptions change. For five-and-a-half years, the 15-inch screen on my iMac G4 (the one that looks like the flat screen on the swing arm attached to the volleyball) has seemed "right" to me. Generous, in fact. A pretty large screen, bigger than my older computers, at least. Now that I have the new 24-inch screen iMac on the way, my current screen suddenly gives me the feeling that I'm on the 1960s television set of Star Trek, where Mr. Spock is hunched over, peering into that little, glowing, blue hooded screen of his. My G4's screen feels that small, just big enough for my eyes to fit. Not that the new one will cover the entire wall....

seraphimsigrist asked me to contribute to a volume he's editing, after he read my entry on my class discussion on Anselm the other day. His proposal surprised me when I found it in the comments, but it has turned into a pleasant little project. Having seen an angle of discussion that I think I can offer, I'm digging into a full re-reading of Anselm's Cur Deus Homo?/Why Did God Become Human? and Karl Rahner's essay "Christology Within an Evolutionary View of the World" from Theological Investigations, Vol. V. I hope to have that finished by the end of the week. It's an essay on a Western vision or experience of theosis or divinization – the goal of Christian faith; of all humanity, if Christianity is true – of being taken into the life of God. Or, as Athanasius of Alexandria (d. 373) famously put it in a text I'll be reading with my students next semester: “God became human so humans would become gods.” (On the Incarnation of the Word 54:3)

It's a popular language these days, speaking of finding "the divine" in us, but one that in new religious movements is usually coupled with a refusal to do the historical and scientific thinking involved in theology: to not seek the best, most supported or factual answers in matters spiritual, but to try to content ourselves with a language devoted to, well, contenting ourselves. It is a curious fact that you find people willing to accuse Christianity of being solely a "warm fuzzies" or "pie in the sky" institution: a religion of sentimental self-deception. But then when you start to marshal the array of evidences necessary to put together a case for its serious intellectual claims, the same people complain about how complicated you're making everything, and how simple true spirituality should be. That "the divine" should be as complicated to discuss as our physics ought to be no real surprise, and yet, for striving for truth in this field, such folks will consider me wicked and oppressive. So much for consistency. But in the case of this essay, I'm actually taking a more popular, intuitive and free-flowing approach, rather than the extended and focused work academic theology tends to produce, although my attempt at accuracy is in no way lessened. I'm engaged with some serious conversation partners in Anselm and Rahner, more on the level of making associations and drawing connections, but it's been a welcome new direction in reading and writing from the dual focus on the Intro course and on the dissertation. I think I'll head over to the library now for some more late-evening reading in that direction.
Tags: anselm, beauty, books, christianity, class-intro to theology, evolution, faith and reason, grace and freedom/nature, incarnation, mac, mysticism/spirituality, personal, rahner, students, teaching, theological methodology, theological notebook, writing

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