Saturday, November 16, 2013

I Love Teaching Intro to Religion!

I am procrastinating grading so . . .
From some college student reflections:
"At first I was not happy about the requirement to go to outside events, but now that I have been to a lecture and a mass, I feel that I have gone outside my little bubble and witnessed others' beliefs and thoughts."
"Learning about the history of the Bible is surprisingly interesting."
"Religion has not been a huge factor in my life in the past several years, but now I think I might go back to temple."
"I had never really thought about the possibility of multiple interpretations of a Biblical text."
"To be honest, I was not looking forward to this course at all . . . but now I am excited to take my next course next semester."
Yes . . . there was at least one very unhappy student ~ I'm afraid I was a bit sarcastic one day and my meaning got lost, but I was very glad that she raised her concerns so that I could address them.  (At least I hope I did.)
I have been a bit preoccupied with my old church-new church stuff this term, and sometimes I feel more behind and confused than my students do.  We cover way too much in this survey course -- from Ignatian spirituality to Tillich to Freud to Frankl to Biblical criticism and exegesis to interfaith dialogue to Islam to justice.    The instructors have a lot of leeway, as long as we cover some basic ideas foundational to discussing religion, address the Bible and interfaith dialogue, and deal with a religion assigned by the department -- that's where Islam came in this semester. 
I started with Ignatian spirituality -- something almost no other instructors do, but hey: we're in a Jesuit university and I think it's always a good idea to understand your heritage.  Whether they are Jewish or Christian (no Muslim students this term), Ignatius has become a part of their heritage by virtue of their presence at the school.  And I'm ending with a discussion of justice across traditions because soon it will be cold and dark and stressful all the time, and I think that's something they can sink their teeth into even when they've about reached the end of the semester.
The most fun?  Reading their reflections on their "outside experiences" ~ a Catholic-atheist debate, an apparently dynamite lecture on the theology of sports (I have a number of athletes in class), Jewish and Methodist students at mass, a Catholic student at my home Presby church, a martial arts class, an Otis Moss, Jr. sermon ~ I think they're having a good semester.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what did your students think of Otis Moss Jr.? I think that must've made for a fantastic conversation.

    I want to thank you for posting that link to "Come Ye Thankful People Come". I grew up singing it at every Thanksgiving service (I still remember--694 in the Methodist hymnal). It brought me a lot of something-like-joy.