Saturday, January 26, 2008

new semester

On Monday I start a new semester of seminary! I'm excited to go back to school, but also a little nervous about balancing family, school, friends, work, exercise, spiritual health, household chores...and whatever else I might need to do. But this semester will be a great one as far as the classes I'm signed up for. Here's a preview of what I'll be writing about on here for the next several months:

Faith, Film & Spirituality in Young Adults
This class is about Gen-X & Y, and the ways that film influences these generations, and how it might spiritually impact them/us. I'm excited because a) it's taught by a prof whose book I have read and appreciate regarding youth ministry, and b) because it's a topic I think is really important and have experienced first hand as something young adults connect with and a place where spiritual connections happen.

Biblical Canon
This class I might not get to take because we have to be in a small group that meets at a different time from the class period, and I can't do any of the times listed, but if I get to take it I think it will be really good. I know quite a bit about the formation of our canon, but I think it would be interesting to learn more, to think about what's important and what isn't about the idea of a "canon," and I want to write a paper about the fact that there is nothing in the Christian canon (Bible) that's written by or from the perspective of women. Does this matter? If so, can it be fixed in any way? What might we be missing of the truth of who God is that women might be able to articulate from their/our experience that men can't or don't? Why does our canon have to be only things written before Jesus' life or by "apostles" (even though the New Testament writers weren't even the actual 12 apostles)? Why can't we hear God's truth speaking through later writers, some of whom might be women?

War & Christian Conscience
I already took a class called "Toward a Theology of Nonviolence," which of course was great, although funny because as a Quaker we don't talk about moving "toward" a theology of nonviolence because we already have a theology of nonviolence. Anyway, this class will be more from the just war perspective, which I think is really important for me to learn more about. We'll be reading some John Howard Yoder, who's a Mennonite pacifist, but the rest looks like it's just war stuff. So that should be really interesting and good food for thought.

Women in the Medieval Church
This will be mainly about specific women who wrote in the Middle Ages, and it looks like we're reading their actual words (well, in English, of course). I've read some of their stuff before but it will be good to read it with others and discuss it, and to hear what my prof has to say about it from the perspective of a better understanding of their space within history.

The Radical Reformation
This is the part of the Reformation where Quakers came in, so this will be really interesting and fun. I know quite a bit about Quaker history but I'm excited to learn more, and to learn about Anabaptists and others. We were the ones who wanted to "reform the reformers," to take the Reformation ideas and really live them out instead of just breaking away from the Catholic church politically but not changing anything in actual practice. I want to write a paper about the Quaker queries as catechism, about how (ideally) our queries are similar to the catechism of other denominations in that they ask questions about our faith and the way we live it out, but our queries are open-ended, asking for a response from our lived experience, whereas other denominations' catechisms have rote answers that you memorize. (Each have their positives and negatives, but I think I like our way better.)

So that will be my semester! Stay tuned for further thoughts and learnings.

1 comment:

Marshall Massey (Iowa YM [C]) said...

Hi, Cherice!

I hope you'll forgive the belatedness of this comment.

As I understand it, most scholars would not class Friends as part of the Radical Reformation; we began separately, and while there was some Anabaptist and Spiritualist influence on our first generation, there really wasn't very much.

Even a cursory reading of the opening pages of the Putney Army Debates should be enough to show the tremendous kinship between our religion and the religion of the New Model Army. And a large percentage of our movement's first leaders came straight out of Army ranks.

Christopher Hill's books on seventeenth-century English religious radicalism — particularly The World Turned Upside Down and The English Bible and the Seventeenth-Century Revolution — illustrate the degree to which the early Friends movement was simply an expression of the zeitgeist of its own place and time.

Our Quaker spirituality seems to me, personally, to have begun as a home-grown blend of 17th-century British Israelitism and Saxon social values, with the Norman and Celtic spiritual propensities added in as leaven.

But that doesn't mean a study of Anabaptism isn't pertinent. I'm astonished at the number of things written by obscure early Anabaptist leaders in south Germany and Tyrolia that, in England, would have seemed to identify them as Quaker or at least Quaker-inclined.

You don't have to agree with me, of course. And I wish you much joy in your studies!