I’m back at it: teaching again, taking classes again, trying to figure out what it’s all about (again). The ‘break’ (December 16-January 21) turned out to be no break at all with grading for my autumn class and then jumping into Philosophy of Religion (a course mainly on Biblical hermeneutics, i.e. reading it as a book where God is a character, not a fuzzy thing/being ‘out there’ somewhere).
Everything for my intro to Buddhism course did go well; I checked course assessments and they were generally very positive and encouraging. I worked on that essay, “Teaching from a Buddhist Perspective” for a few days and nights but have yet to finish it… and it’s well past the due date by now. But I’ll see what I can get done on it this week and if I can still get it in (perhaps to be published in a book this year).
What kept me so busy was the Phil of Religion course: reading selections of Paul’s Epistles, much of Genesis and bits of Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, along with the full Gospel of Mark and most of the parables of Jesus. We also read Dante’s Inferno and a wonderful translation of the Book of Job by Stephen Mitchell. The material was largely new to me (oddly enough), so it took some time to absorb. I was also amazed by the professor’s re-reading of the Old Testament as a series of life lessons, like Aesop’s Fables with more character development. They were stories about people and a God who were learning from mistakes, and the disasters that befell those who didn’t.
The professor led us toward the conclusion that the God of the Bible is not a moral God (in any way we might think of morality today). So we could either follow him one way or we could learn from those Biblical stories and others to hone our own moral sense. With a good moral sense we can see others, those we may have blindly believed must be good such as our parents or political leaders or gods, from a more realistic vantage point, seeing that they too are flawed, perhaps seriously. At least that’s what I got from it.
But it is fun. I have just over 30 students, almost all of whom are there purely out of interest (a couple maybe need it for an Asian Studies minor). But the size is a bit awkward. It is too small to lecture to (for me at least) but still a bit large for a discussion that draws everyone in. Thursday was the first day I tried to get people talking, and in retrospect it went well enough. We’re still in those introductory days, feeling out people’s levels of interest and understanding. The odd thing is that about a third of the students had my Intro class last fall, so they know a tremendous amount of background stuff already, whereas the rest either know a varied amount from personal explorations or are brand new to it all. So… we’ll see.
Hopefully this will be the last extended period we’ll have to spend apart… but anywho… we’re surviving – both too busy much of the time to ruminate on it, both eager to call when we can and happy to hear from the other, both sending new photos now and then to remind the other just how beautiful we are! (just her really).
Ok… back to work with a big smile. (who could look at that smile there and not help but smile?)