One of the particular challenges of teaching theology today—even to students who have some religious background—is the utter lack of theological formation most people in the United States receive. Some students may come in with some religious formation, in that they have participated in their church’s faith formation classes or even theology classes in a religious high school, but that formation tends to be more catechetical than theological. To oversimplify, catechesis provides a student with a religious community’s answers to theological questions, but it does not always provide the rationale for those answers.
When I started micro blogging in 2021, I never planned to do anything but that: micro blog. I’d tried to blog before—my first website was a static site generated by Jekyll—but it had never stuck. I liked the idea of instead having a fairly low-effort, ephemeral site: a blog populated with posts about what I’m reading, quotations I’m mulling over, even some pictures, etc. For a while that’s all I did with micro.
(Well, not quite Theology 101; rather, Theology & Franciscan Studies 101, which isn’t exactly an intro to theology.)
I’m finally getting close to a “final form” for my sections of “The Way of Francis & Clare.” The course schedule, including reading assignments, is mostly set, but what’s really tied together the entire course is the integration of a service learning project throughout the semester.
Throughout the semester, students take what they learn about Franciscan values to design, plan, & implement a service project that does some good for the local community.
How to teach a course on Francis & Clare of Assisi?1 The 101 class offered by the Department of Theology & Franciscan Studies at St. Bonaventure University is titled “The Way of Francis & Clare.” This course aims to introduce students to the Franciscan roots that underlie the mission & values of SBU by a semester-long study of the lives & writings of Francis & Clare.
Teaching such a course is not without its challenges.
Inspired by Phil Christman’s recent post of the same name, here’s a list of a few things you would read if you wanted to figure out what I get out of Christianity.
Here’s Christman’s own disclaimer regarding his list, which I also make for my own:
This is not, by the way, a canon or an attempt at canon-making. It’s extremely personal, and reflects my personal circumstances, which are narrow, like everyone’s.
This year I read 63 books (actually a couple more, as there were some I didn’t log), & I tracked my reading with StoryGraph. This graph is so interesting; you can see the effect the fall & spring semesters have on my reading.
Some of the more engaging books I read this year include:
Transforming Fire: Imagining Christian Teaching. Mark D. Jordan. The Argonauts. Maggie Nelson. How to Be Normal. Phil Christman.
Yesterday I saw a tweet floating around asking for your “personal canon,” that is, which are the books that you have used to understand the world? Limiting myself only to written works (and not, say, music or film), here’s what I would say, roughly ordered according to when I encountered these books:
The gospel according to Luke The book of Revelation A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Les Misérables by Victor Hugo Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander by Thomas Merton Proslogion by Anselm of Canterbury The Plague by Albert Camus The Prophets by Abraham J.