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Theological Notebook/Personal: Designing the Theology Through The Centuries Course with Dan

I can begin by copying the words of my journal entry from the other day: "I've been underground the last several days, doing dissertating stuff and preparing for the new Theology Through The Centuries course with Dan, who is also teaching a section of it." It has been keeping me away from my own journaling for a bit, much less trying to keep up with everyone else's.

But I have to say: what amazing days! The dissertating has been pure fun, a real brainstorming period for the whole rest of the project, with all sorts of organizational, structural or programmatic ideas coming to me. The part of the project that is "constructive" – that is, attempting to do something really constructive or new in the field – has been especially exciting, as I'm finding new directions to take the material that have got me rather excited. But the continuing sessions of planning with Dan have been a quietly thrilling experience. I was again over at his place the other evening for a long work session.

First there was some playing with the kids, and then being treated to a sweet root soup that I remember them making last winter, and a later dessert of mint chocolate chip that Amy had fetched for the occasion. It was Dan's night putting down Owen while Amy took Anna, and I kept my streak going by going in to the screaming Owen after Dan had left him, and simply saying to the 16-month-old, "Dude: it's time to sleep. Just lay down and go to bed." No sooner were the words out of my mouth than he dropped down face-first, quieted down, and lay still, other than some sullen-appearing kicking of his mattress. I have no idea why he does this for me, but it cracks me up. I told them I have the strangest feeling that he sees me as some sort of 1 year-old analogy to a frat brother.

But then the work with Dan got going for the next several hours. What's been so cool about this, I finally realized, is that I've never constructed a course with someone else before. I've never been around anyone who was going to teach the same thing as me. Dan and I have a few variations in our reading list, and more in our reading schedule, but there is a considerable amount of overlap: more than when we had started. To have another expert regarding the material, debating readings and possible lessons, someone who also has teaching experience (he taught junior high, which I consider to be more hard-core than my high school experience, and we're both of the opinion a lot of undergraduate courses could be tougher than they are), really made designing the course a pleasure in itself, but even more, it refined the course. This is not the course I would have designed on my own. Altered reading lists (we both separately had been thinking of adding Basil of Caesarea's On The Holy Spirit to the readings, and subsequently selected some passages we thought worked), different lesson styles, rubrics for daily assignments and discussion: all of these came out of our sessions, and as a result the class will be different from anything I've ever taught in its pedagogical approach. I'm excited and nervous. Dan's section went well today, he thinks, and my two are tomorrow. I include the reading list for those interested.


T   1/15     Introduction
Th 1/17    C.S. Lewis, Introduction to On the Incarnation, pp. 3-10.  Electronic Reserve readings (password “theology” both sections’ reading for THEO 106, but listed only as section 1002): “The Triumph of the Nicene Faith” in David N. Bell’s A Cloud of Witnesses; and “Truly Human, Truly Divine” in William C. Placher’s A History of Christian Theology: An Introduction.

T   1/22    Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word, pp. 25-47
Th 1/24    Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word, pp. 48-64

T   1/29    Basil of Caesarea, On The Holy Spirit, chs. 9-10, 17-19 (Electronic Reserve)
Th 1/31    Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions, Bks. I

T   2/5    Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions, Bk. II-III; “The Intellectual Background” in David N. Bell’s A Cloud of Witnesses (electronic reserve)
Th 2/7    Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions, Bks. IV

T   2/12    Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions, Bk. V-VI
Th 2/14    Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions, Bks. VII

T   2/19    Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions, Bk. VIII-IX
Th 2/21    Bell, Many Mansions: An Introduction to the Development and Diversity of Medieval Theology, chs. 1 & 3, pp. 19-37, 59-80.

T   2/26    Benedict of Nursia, The Rule, pp. 15-55
Th 2/28    Benedict of Nursia, The Rule, pp. 55-96

T   3/4    Bell, Many Mansions, chs. 5 & 11-12, pp. 83-98, 209-241
Th 3/6    Bell, Many Mansions, chs. 7-8 & 10, pp. 137-171, 193-207

T   3/11    Midterm
Th 3/13 – Th 3/20 No Class, Spring Break

T   3/25    Anselm of Canterbury, Cur Deus Homo?, Book I: Preface-ch.18; pp. 191-236
Th 3/27    Anselm of Canterbury, Cur Deus Homo?, Book I: 19-Book II: 7; pp. 236-260

T   4/1    Anselm of Canterbury, Cur Deus Homo?, Book II: 8-22; pp. 261-302
Th 4/3    Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I.32.1-4; (Summa: Concise Translation, ch. 3) (electronic reserve)

T   4/8    Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, (continued)
Th 4/10    Julian of Norwich, Showings (Julian readings are TBA)

T   4/15    Julian of Norwich, Showings
Th 4/17    Julian of Norwich, Showings

T   4/22    Martin Luther, On Christian Liberty, (electronic reserve or TBA)
Th 4/24    Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures, pp. 7-53

T   4/29    Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures, pp. 79-116
Th 5/1    Conclusion
Tags: academia, books, class-theology through the centuries, dissertation, food, friends-marquette era, marquette, personal, teaching, theological notebook
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