ind of been riding a buzz all evening. I had a great day of teaching today. It wasn't that any single event was particularly spectacular, but rather that the levels of student discussion were just first-rate and compelling through all my courses. (Except, perhaps for the last five or ten minutes of my last course, where things started to drag a bit, but that's probably more to the class finishing at 6:05pm than anything else.) Looking back at the day, I'm really just kind of proud of all the students.
The Catholicism class was discussing the nature of the Bible and its role in Catholic theology, off of the reading on that material from Gregory Higgin's Christianity 101: A Textbook of Catholic Theology
. More creatively, my class on Jesus was finishing their reading of the Gospels with a comparative look at the four Gospels on Jesus's teaching and ministry. Leading into a more collegiate discussion of the character or personality of Jesus as it comes through in the Gospels, I began with a rather grade school-sounding request for each of the students to take a turn telling what story of Jesus they had found struck them the most out of the reading assignment, and to explain why it did so. The variety of texts and of reasons was really compelling, and it served to construct in-class the sort of broad "sketch" of Jesus I could use for the more advanced questions regarding his character, and then toward the end of the session regarding his ethical teaching, as a whole.
I even had a few new thoughts or pictures given to me, particularly from one girl's reflection on the emotional experience Jesus was having in the scene where he mourned over Jerusalem. That might sound kind of cocky, but it's just a "professional vs. beginner" contrast: I've just spend so
many years on this material that it's striking to me when an undergraduate raises a question or a perspective I haven't already worked through myself. But somehow, despite the obvious fact of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, the utter discouragement of a man who maybe sees all his efforts as having had little apparent impact was a new angle or vision of this moment for me. So that sort of thing got me kind of especially pleased. T
he day ended with the also-pleasant experience of grabbing dinner at the new La Divinia Gelateria
location on campus with my colleague Mari, who is the other Visiting Assistant Professor in the department this year. She's a Jewish studies scholar from the University of Chicago, and is a whirlwind of fun. So we got to know a little bit more about one another's backgrounds while discovering the good and inexpensive Panini after I was made acquainted with Mari's philosophical objections to any restaurants with entrees approaching the $30 mark (which came up since I had suggested exploring the highly-regarded Gautreau's Restaurant
in my neighbourhood). Another time....