HUM 4800 • Church and the Modern World Course Syllabus • Spring 2010 • 3 Credits Professor: Mark Weedman

, Ph.D E–mail: Course Description and Goals: This course examines the relationship between the Christian Church and contemporary culture, specifically the challenges that this culture makes to the Church's life and mission, and the Church's response to these challenges. We will give special attention to the effects of Enlightenment "atheism" on Western culture, as well as the fall of modern foundationalism and its effects on post-modern culture. As the capstone course of the Humanities Core, I expect that students will bring the full range of their education, especially their exegetical and theological skills, to bear on the problems identified. Our fundamental questions in the course will concern the kinds of stories communities tell about themselves. We might call this “representation:” every culture uses facets of that culture, such as media, art, political structures, educational systems and other forms of cultural expression to represent that culture’s fundamental picture of itself, what it stands for, what are its challenges, etc. Every culture does this, including the church, which means that in order to understand that culture you have to investigate its forms of cultural expression. We will do that in two ways for this course. We will first look a contemporary American culture represents itself. We will then turn to Christianity and ask what kind of representation Christians should strive for and what ways are Christians trying to attain this kind of representation. As a matter of expediency, we will focus our study on pop culture and other forms of artistic expression, with the ultimate goal of bringing American and Christian culture into dialogue with each other. I should also note that although we will consistently distinguish American culture from Christian culture, we will not assume that they are fundamentally in conflict with each other. The are points of profound conflict between the two cultures, but there are also moments where they shape and inform the other in constructive ways, and we will look for those moments as well. The working assumption of this course is that being a theologian in the church requires two skills: (1) the ability to exegete the church’s authoritative texts, especially the Bible, and (2) the ability to exegete culture. It is not the purpose of this course to teach you these skills—this has been the goal of your entire program! Instead, we will give you an opportunity to practice these skills together, to integrate them in ways that anticipate the tasks you will face as leaders in the church. I do not intend to convince you, Biblically or otherwise, that the problems we confront are genuine problems for the Church. You already have the resources to do that for yourself. Instead, I want you to consider what the problems are, think theologically about how the Gospel offers solutions to those problems, and then begin the process of developing practices that work to overcome these problems. Relationship of Course to Curriculum: Upper Division HUM Requirement Required Textbooks Room: S105 Phone: 535-3332 Meeting: MWF 10:00 – 10:50

1. Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches that Changed the World
(Harper One, 1992).

2 2. Stanley +Hauerwas and Jean Vanier, Living Gently in a Violent World (IVP, 2008). 3. William T. Cavanaugh, Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (Eerdmans,
2008). 4. L. Shannon Jung, Sharing Food: Christian Practices for Enjoyment (Fortress Press, 2006). 5. Paul Louis Metzger, Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church (Eerdmans, 2007). 6. A Study Bible in a modern translation. Especially recommended are the NIV Study Bible or the NRSV version of the Oxford Annotated Bible. Grading Scale This course requires a great deal of reading, and much of it must be completed independently, i.e. without a series of class assignments to help you discipline yourself! To help mitigate this, and because I expect that you will, as seniors in your final course, work at your highest level, I will not assign qualitative grades. Every student will submit bi – weekly reading sheets on which you will affirm that you read all of the assignments for those weeks and attended class. In exchange, I will guarantee that every student that submits all of their completed reading sheets will receive an “A” for this course. Hopefully, this approach will free you to enjoy the reading, and to learn from it, without having to worry about “getting it right for the test.” This also more closely mirrors your life after college, where such reading will be crucial to your continued development, but will also be independent. There will be ten of these reading logs, five that pertain to the in – class reading assignments, and five that pertain to the journal assignment. If you turn in all ten, then you will receive an A, as I have already noted. If you turn in fewer, I will assign grades according to the following scale: 9 sheets = “B”, 8 sheets = “C”, 7 sheets = “D”, 6 sheets and fewer = “F.” Note that since this course is required for graduation, receiving an F will prevent you from receiving your diploma. This is a covenant that requires the participation of both parties to remain in force, and if I sense that the students in the course are not keeping their end of it, then I reserve the right to revert to a traditional grading system, including midterm and final exams. I will also impose the traditional system on the entire class if I ever feel that not enough of the students have read the material for or are participating in any class session. What counts as “not enough students” is solely at my judgment, and I strongly urge you not only to commit yourselves to participating fully, but also to encouraging your classmates in their efforts. Course Requirements

1. Attendance and Class Participation. All students are expected to attend all regular class
sessions as listed in the course schedule below. No unexcused absences! Likewise, you must come to class fully prepared to discuss the assigned reading. I have made every effort to keep the workload manageable, and there is no excuse for anything less than active participation in the classroom discussions.

2. Moments of Representation Project: During the second half of the course (beginning in Week
10), each student will be required to identify and share with the class moments of representation in American culture that correspond to the theme of that week. Each student will be responsible for locating and leading the discussion for at least one cultural resource.

3. Journal Project: As your writing project I want you to keep a cultural journal. Look for
moments in culture that recall the kinds of experiences that we identify as particular

challenges for the church, e.g. moments that reflect our addiction to violence, experiences of loneliness, etc. You should make at least four entries per week through week 6. I will track your progress through the reading logs. At the end of the semester, I will ask you to edit and shape the material into a piece of art that offers some insight into—and hope for—the world we find ourselves in. Due on the first day of week 7. Special Needs: Any accommodations for students with special needs must be documented and approved through the Academic Dean’s Office. See V.P. Rick Walston to initiate the process. Use of Electronic Equipment in the Classroom: Computers and other devices brought to the classroom should be used only as directed or permitted by the instructor of a given class. In-class use of cell phones, pagers and other devices that potentially may create classroom distractions is prohibited (e.g., cell phones must be set on “silent”). Violation of this policy may result in dismissal of students from the classroom, prohibiting students from using the devices in the classroom, prohibiting the students from having the devices in academic areas during times when classes are in session, or other consequences at the discretion of the instructor. Academic Integrity: Honesty in all endeavors is vital as an expression of the Christian life. Students at Crossroads College will not participate, encourage, or condone such behavior as cheating, plagiarism, or other forms of academic dishonesty. All assignments must be the student’s original work for the course in which the material is submitted. When students utilize work that is not their own, proper credit must be given to the source of the information. Cheating, plagiarism, and/or any other form of dishonesty in any context should be considered a moral and ethical offense, will not be tolerated at Crossroads College, and students may be placed on probation, suspended, or expelled as a result. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of behaviors which constitute academic dishonesty and consequences, as defined in the current college catalog. Recommended Reading Barton, Stephen C., ed. The Family in Theological Perspective. Herndon, Va.: T & T Clark, 2000. Bloom, Alan. The Closing of the American Mind. New York: NY: Penguin, 1987. Clapp, Rodney. Border Crossings : Christian Trespasses on Popular Culture and Current Affairs. Brazos Press, 2000. Eck, Diana L. A New Religious America: How a Christian Country Has Now Become the World's Most Religiously Diverse Nation. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001. Emerson, Michael. Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America. Oxford University Press, 2001. Fenn, Richard K. Beyond Idols : The Shape of Secular Society. Oxford University Press, 2001. Hirsch, E.D., Jr. Cultural Literacy. Westminster, MD: Random House Vintage, 1988. Kenneson, Philip D. Beyond Sectarianism: Re-Imagining Church and World. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1999. Mouw, Richard J., and Sander Griffioen. Pluralisms and Horizons: An Essay in Christian Public Philosophy. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans. 1993.

Oden, Thomas C. Requiem: A Lament in Three Movements. Nashville: Abingdon, 1995. Pinsky, Mark I. and Tony Campolo. The Gospel According to the Simpsons: The Spiritual Life of the World's Most Animated Family. Westminster John Knox, 2001. Porpora, Douglas V. Landscapes of the Soul: The Loss of Meaning in American Life. Oxford University Press, 2001. Postman, Neil. Amusing Ourselves to Death. Bergenfield, NJ: Viking-Penguin, 1985.

Robert Putnam. Bowling Alone : The Collapse and Revival of American Community. Simon and Schuster, 2001.
Scott, Steve. Like A House on Fire: Renewal of the Arts in Postmodern Culture. Chicago, IL: Cornerstone, 1997. Sider, Ronald J. Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger : Moving from Affluence to Generosity. W Publishing Group, 2005. Sine, Tom. Mustard Seed versus McWorld: Reinventing Life and Faith for the Future. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999. Sproul, R.C. The Consequences of Ideas: Understanding the Concepts that Shaped our World. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000.

Wuthnow, Robert. Christianity in the 21st Century: Reflections on the Challenges Ahead. Oxford University Press, 1995.
Yong, Amos. Theology and Down Syndrome: Reimagining Disability in Late Modernity. Baylor University Press, 2007.

Course Schedule (What follows here is the sequence of topics we will take up in the course. The list of actual readings, including links, will be available on the course web page. Given the flexible nature of the material, students must check this page regularly for updates to the reading and schedule: Note that for readings that are available on the web, each student must print a copy and bring it to class, even if you have a computer in the class session.) Unit 1: Representations of American Culture “We’re all lonely for something we don’t know we’re lonely for. How else to explain the curious feeling that goes around feeling like missing somebody we’ve never even met?” —David Foster Wallace Week 1: Atheism Week 2: Violence Week 3: Racism and Sexism Week 4: Anti – Intellectualism Week 5 (Spiritual Emphasis Week) Week 6: Consumerism Unit 2: Representations of Christian Culture Week 7: King and the Beloved Community Week 8 (Spring Break) Week 9: King and the Beloved Community Week 10: Being Consumed Week 11: Consuming Jesus Week 12: Sharing Food Week 13: (Easter) “Images of Easter” Week 14: (Ministry Week) Week 15: Living Gently in a Violent World Week 16: “Images of Peace and Community” Week 17 (Final Exams)

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