Fall Semester: Classes & Reading

This is the year of lasts. My last undergrad fall semester. It’s about time.

I’m taking a intro. Biology class for my science requirements but I will not be posting about that class or the text as it is not of interest. I only have a few other classes left to take and my thesis to write. They are:

Topics in Theology – Peace and Justice
This course will bring John Howard Yoder and Wendell Berry into dialogue. Yoder, a Mennonite peace theologian, and Berry, a Baptist scholar-farmer-novelist, both critique establishment Christianity in similar and different ways. For example, Yoder speaks of Constantinianism and Berry of Western culture’s failure to address the place of human beings on earth. They share many concerns like war and security issues and they both have special unique concerns. The course will study writings from both scholars in the watchful presence of the other’s voice.
Readings will be chosen from the following:

From John Howard Yoder:
a. The original Revolution
b. The Politics of Jesus
c. Body Politics
d. The Priestly Kingdom
e. For the Nations
f. The Royal Priesthood

From Wendell Berry:
a. Fidelity
b. Jabour Crow
c. The Way of Ignorance and other Essays
d. The Gift of Good Land
e. Life is a Miracle
f. Home Economics
g. In the Presence of Fear
h. Blessed are the Peacemakers
i. What are People For
j. Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community

Topics in Theology – God’s People in God’s World: Christian Political Theology
This course will study both primary and secondary sources that illustrate how Christian beliefs have fashioned Christian political ideals and practices in the ancient, medieval, and early modern eras. The course will explore the contribution of theological arguments to Western political thought, and will acquaint students with competing interpretations of key issues in Christian political thought such as the Constantinian question.

Texts are:
O’Donovan and O’Donovan, eds. From Irenaeus to Grotius: A Sourcebook in Christian Political Thought
Peter Leithart, Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom

Preliminary thesis notes will be coming soon. My work is at the intersection of theology, philosophy, and peace studies. Major figures from each of those disciplines influencing my work are John Howard Yoder, Jacques Derrida, and John Paul Lederach.

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4 comments on “Fall Semester: Classes & Reading

  1. marcregier says:

    Constantine is the scapegoat of all intellectual projects that begin with the word “post.” I honestly doubt that dude is nearly as satanic as Mr. Fork-tongued Yoder and his ilk make him out to be. The real enemy of Christianity as seen by the eyes of pacifism ought to be King David. But you’ll have to fill me in with some genuine historic insights you learn this semester, Mel.

    • Kampen says:

      Ha. Well, I don’t think that’s true and neither is the flip side – that Yoder is a saint (I don’t know where people get this idea – it is not espoused even by the “yoderian” faculty of our university!) but I recognize the thrust that you are opposed to. Who is or isn’t more satanic will not be part of my discovery because it wouldn’t make a difference either way and we would be deceiving ourselves if we thought we could make that kind of decisive judgement call. What is, however, important, are the problems with the amalgamation of church and state, which are many more than just the question of the sword/pacifism. What is dangerous (and useless) in the Constantine/Yoder debate is reduction. I intend to read carefully and critically from Constantine’s contemporaries as well as Leithart’s work and to offer sympathy where I find it due. I’m after a nuanced discussion of the relationships of the church and state throughout Christian history.

  2. Emerson Fast says:

    I like your approach Mel, and entrust you to the wisdom of this dutch proverb: “Wie boter op zijn hoofd heeft, moet uit de zon blijven.”

  3. Kampen says:

    I feel the need to publicly clarify that Emerson Fast and and marcregier are the same person – though I suppose I cannot speak to whether they are the same personality. As for the proverb – then I wouldn’t receive any of the health benefits of the sun either!

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