Saturday, February 2, 2008

Class Is In Session

This week I start teaching "Introduction to American Religious Histories" at United Theological Seminary in New Brighton, Minnesota.

For those of you who are interested, here's a link to the syllabus I will be using.

Those of you who are LDS, I would be particularly interested in hearing what you think about the text I will be using to explore Mormonism, Terryl Givens' By the Hand of Mormon. If you've read it, tell me what you think. If you haven't read it, read it and then tell me!

I particularly like it, because Givens thoroughly discusses all of the various controversies about the Book of Mormon, both outside of and on the margins of the LDS community, but he does so from the perspective of a believing, committed Latter-day Saint. I think he does an excellent job of explaining to a non-Mormon audience the role of the Book of Mormon in LDS faith, practice, and doctrine. Most importantly, he treats the Book of Mormon with the respect it deserves as the keystone of the newest "world religion."

My friend Paul asked me if I am nervous about teaching the class, and God's honest truth is I am not. I have been waiting to teach this class for almost 15 years! I can hardly wait! More later...


Beck said...

Sounds fascinating! Your students will be well rewarded by your passion!

How I'd like to audit your class.

J G-W said...

Beck, I'd love to have you in my class.

FoxyJ said...

I read that book last year and really liked it. I've hardly read anything about Church history in my life because I've usually found it boring and poorly written. But I thought BTHOM to be an excellent book and one I would recommend to any of my friends. I like the fact that he takes the story of the Book of Mormon seriously and doesn't seem to equate faith with lack of explanation. Not sure if I'm explaining myself well, but so many people I know don't like really exploring things about the church because they seem to equate investigation and questioning with some sort of lack of faith.

J G-W said...

FoxyJ - I'm glad you like the book. I hope my students will as well. We won't be getting to it for a while.

I agree with you, and I'm pretty sure I know what you mean. Givens expects that people approaching the Book of Mormon will use their brains, and will want rational answers to some of the questions about and criticisms of the Book of Mormon. YET, he acknowledges the central role of faith in approaching the Book of Mormon.