Thursday, October 23, 2014

Religion Courses for Spring 2015

As you get ready to register for next semester's classes, here is a quick guide to the Religion courses you can take.

REL106 Exploring the Bible - Four sections (M,W, F, 9 & 10; T,Th, 9:25 & 10:50) - core: Religion
There is a reason it is a best seller -- take this class and find out why for yourself.

REL107 Exploring World Religions - Four sections in a class room (M,W,F, 11, 1; T,Th,10:50 & 12:15) and two sections online (seats reserved for RNBSN students)- core: Religion, GPS-Border Crossings.

REL220 Taking Human Life  - Two sections (M,W,F, 9 & 10) -core: Humanities
Dr. Hovey says: Is it ever okay to take human life? If so, under what conditions? Many of the hardest contemporary issues in society and for religious communities are related to these questions, whether suicide, euthanasia, abortion, capital punishment, or warfare. Join us for an exciting yet also serious course examining these ethical issues from philosophical and theological perspectives.

REL232REHON History of Modern Christianity - (T,Th, 9:25 ) - core: Historical Reasoning
Starting in the 17th century, Dr Slade will lead a jaunt through modern history considering how Christianity shaped and was shaped by the modern world. There will be Nazis, Communists, revolutionaries, snake handlers, missionaries, scientists, philosophers, abolitionists, saints, and sinners.
(This is an honors section which means that if you are not an honors student you will need a good GPA and a great reason for taking the course . . .  email your request to take the course to Dr. Swanson before Nov. 14 and he will consider putting you in if there is any space left. If you are unlucky and don't get in, not to worry, there will be another church history class next fall).

REL250 Understanding Islam in Today's World - (T,Th, 1:40) - core: Humanities, GPS-Border Crossings.
This is an event of a class. Team taught by Dr. Aune and Dr Ajwa (recently returned from Mecca), learn about the second largest (and most misunderstood) monotheistic religion in the world.

REL308  Political Theology - (T,Th, 10:50) - core: Humanities
Take this class with Dr. Hovey. If you want to learn more about the class, see What is Political Theology. If you want to know why he is teaching it check out the book he edited.

REL400  Christian Literature - (T,Th, 12:15)
Dr. Aune heads-up this seminar group reading and discussing some of the classic works of Christian Literature including Augustine's Confessions, Thomas a Kempis's Imitation of Christ, Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle, John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Cost of Discipleship and C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters.
Warning: these books can change lives.

Dr. Sue Dickson will be on senior study leave in the Spring (hence she is not teaching classes). She will be working with an organization called Leadership & Missions (LEMIS) teaching pastors in Kenya for three months.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

What is Political Theology?

By Craig Hovey

Sometimes students ask me what political theology means. It's a class I love to teach so I thought I'd share the long description I came up with when I proposed the course.

REL 308 Political Theology - Spring 2015 TTh 10:50 am.

Fulfills Humanities Core.

This course introduces students to the major loci of contemporary political theology, including but not limited to current critiques of statecraft, recent developments in liberalism and democracy, political readings of the Bible, the fundamental orientation of the church vis-à-vis the political, violence and justice, marginalization and liberation (especially on matters of race and gender), the economy and globalization, and apocalypticism and eschatology. (The term “political theology” very often implies a focus on recent scholarship, as it is meant to do in this case. The term originates with Carl Schmitt’s 1922 essay by the same title.) The course is highly text-focused and deeply analytical, demonstrating and requiring a great deal of critical care in the handing of religious and political ideas.

It is hardly possible to overstate the degree to which our historical moment is ripe for the kind of serious and sustained exploration of theo-political questions which this course examines. From the profoundly renewed political self-awareness and self-confidence of fundamentalisms of many kinds, to the perceived inadequacies of secularizing moves enacted on entire nations (such as Turkey), to challenges from Jürgen Habermas, Pope Benedict XVI, and others for Europe to find an identity vis-à-vis its Christian past, to many of the political assumptions long taken for granted in the Christian West now facing resistance within Islam in ways that are at times acute, to the well-attested shift of Christianity’s center of gravity to the global South, the opening decades of the twenty-first century present a pivotal challenge to bring greater depth and clarity to topics of political theology that are likely to be with us for some time. This course is designed to be timely and relevant in light if these kinds of developments.