Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Last Seminary Class

I'm signed up for two classes this semester, still need to finish my summer course and then have one unit more to accomplish. So, I'm planning to do a unit of individualized study... basically a self-study course with a professor watching over you to make sure you learn something. Here's the syllabus I've submitted to the school:

Faith and Fiction

“Story” is increasingly en vogue among evangelicals today. Books like Brian McClaren’s “New Kind of Christian” trilogy uses a narrative framework as a vehicle for presenting theology, and even Gordon McDonald adopted this in last year’s “Who Stole My Church?” Don Miller’s newest book is about using the framework of Story for discovering purpose in our lives. Even non-Christians are presenting theology using narrative, as is evidenced in books like “The Da Vinci Code.” This self-directed study course is designed to explore the advantages and disadvantages of conveying theology through fiction and story, looking not only at Biblical examples but also at the best (and worst) examples from our history and today. What are the appropriate boundaries between faith and fiction? If there are advantages to using fiction to convey theology, what are they? How can we do this well? How can we make sure that the message of Christ is getting to as many people as possible using this method?

Upon completion of this course you should be able to:
1. Communicate intelligently about the use of fiction in scripture
2. Have a basic awareness of the history of using fiction as a vehicle for Christian theology
3. Develop basic guidelines for using fiction well to communicate theological truth
4. Develop a list of exemplary Christian writings of and about fiction that could be given to others

COURSE TEXTS (at least 35 hours of reading selected from the following texts)

1. O'Connor, Flannery, Mystery and Manners.
2. Beuchner, Frederich, A Clown in the Belfry.
3. C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man and That Hideous Strength (these two books address the same theological concerns… the first is an essay, the second a novel)
4. McKee, Robert. Story.
5. Miller, Don. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.
6. Bunyan, John. Pilgrim's Progress.
7. Berry, Wendell. Jayber Crow.
8. Doestoevsky, Feodor. The Brothers Karamazov.
9. Scripture texts: Ruth, Esther, Jonah, Ecclesiastes (?), the parables of Jesus
10. C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
11. Hemingway, Ernest, The Old Man and the Sea.

The student will keep a course diary to show how the 45 hours allotted to the course are spent."
The student will write a paper at the end of this course summarizing his findings and what he has learned.

I'm looking forward to this course. Like I told Krista, I tend to work harder on courses completely within my areas of interest... I'm likely to put in a lot more work for this one unit than is necessary or even wise.

Anyway, I still need to get approval from a few people at the school, but this is what I'm shooting for!


  1. Kerry Little3:44 PM

    Sounds like a great class! I will be interested to see what you think of Wendell Berry. I recently read "Hannah Coulter" and LOVED it! His writing style is so beautiful. I haven't read "Jayber Crow" yet.

  2. Sounds Awesome! 加油!You can do it Matt!

  3. maybe you will finally read 'The Brothers Karamazov'

  4. OOooooo....! I'd love to take this class if you ever get to teach it someday! Not that I'd have that much to contribute but even to be a fly on the wall would be a provocative and worthwhile experience!