Special Topics

Summer 1 2016

TRS 299 The Gospel of Luke and Acts, Professor Amy Ekeh
The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, written by the same author, tell the story of Jesus and the community of his followers that came to be known as Christians. This course will explore the background, structure, themes and narrative of Luke and Acts, with an emphasis on the unique portrait of Jesus presented by Luke’s Gospel, the continuity between Luke and Acts, and the development of the early Christian movement as portrayed by Acts.


FYRS 125 Mythic Themes in C.S. Lewis, Dr. Chris Kelley
C.S. Lewis continues to be one of the most enduring authors of the 20th century. Creator and chronicler of the fantasy world of Narnia, his legacy of prose fiction has enjoyed great success. As a Christian apologist in the midst of modernity his popular influence is rivaled only by Thomas Merton. Beyond Narnia, he is best known for titles like Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters, both of them classics in contemporary apologetics. Yet Lewis was the author of some 74 books and essays, not all of them equally recognized. This course offers the opportunity to engage some of his lesser known works in a way that seeks to frame them as “mythic narratives.” We will try to understand how texts such as Out of the Silent PlanetThe Abolition of Man, and Till We Have Faces engage some of the fundamental themes of human experience.

FYRS 125 Human Nature and Social Responsibility, Dr. Ono Ekeh
This course will examine the nature of social responsibility, why it is important, and how it is inherent in human nature. We will explore the idea that a society that seeks to optimize individual flourishing must develop a strong sense of social responsibility among its individual members. Such a society is well positioned to achieve a balance between the interests of its individual members and those of the corporate whole.

TRS 299 A Comparative Theology
This is a one-semester introduction to a relatively new discipline in the academy entitled Comparative Theology.  In short, Comparative Theology is an approach to theology that brings two traditions together in side by side comparison and contrast in order to learn both deeply without collapsing the two traditions into one.  In particular we will do comparative theology centering on Buddhism and Christianity.  Because each tradition is quite diverse, we will focus on Zen Buddhism and Roman Catholic Christianity.  We will study the fundamental doctrines of each tradition, tracing them through their historical development and seeing how social and cultural circumstances have influenced the theological interpretation of sacred texts as well as religious beliefs and practice.  In the final weeks of the term, we will explore some specific Buddhist-Christian ways of learning from each other. The course is designed to enter students into dialogue with Buddhist and Christian writers, not just to learn facts about Buddhism and Christianity.

Taught by Prof. Kevin Johnson, long-time professor at SHU and finishing his doctoral degree in Comparative Theology at Boston College

TRS 299 B The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King
This course critically examines the theological, and ethical foundations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with special attention given to King’s role as preacher, civil rights leader, public theologian, social change agent, and advocate of the beloved community. We will consider King’s legacy in terms of its relevance and usefulness in addressing contemporary issues in today’s society.

Taught by Rev. Anthony Sandusky, pastor, philanthropist, Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt and current student at Yale Divinity School—new to SHU


PH 299 AO4 The Ethics of Care (March 7-April 29)
Ethics is the attempt to answer the question ‘How should I treat myself and others?” The dominant moral theories of our epoch base their answers on Reason and Fairness. The Ethics of Care, conceived by feminist thinkers in the past four decades, argues that in moral thinking, empathy and the preservation of human connectedness should take priority over Reason and Fairness. In this course we will investigate the Ethics of Care’s views regarding personhood, empathy, the practice of care, the mothering paradigm and the moral values and duties they connote. We will also apply these insights to particular ethical problems that are familiar to us from our everyday lives. *This course applies in the Women's Studies Minor 

Taught by Dr. Nachum Turetzky, a long-time online professor at SHU and a published specialist in this topic. 


TRS 299 AO Pilgrimages Then and Now, Winter B (Dec 21-Jan 15)
This course will explore the experience of religious pilgrimages in both their temporal and spiritual dimensions. As "armchair pilgrims" themselves, students will consider the motivation and rewards associated with these journeys, the pilgrims' sensory experiences and the significance of the "eye of faith," the role of rituals during a pilgrimage, and the concept of one's entire life being a pilgrimage.  The assigned texts focus on written accounts of Christian pilgrims in the fourth century and will be compared with video descriptions of the spiritual journeys undertaken by Buddhist, Muslim, and Christian pilgrims today.

Taught by Dr. Lois Gandt, theologian and Christian historian, long-time professor at SHU

TRS 299 BO Augustine's Confessions, Winter C (Jan 4-Jan 15)
The Confessions is an iconic text in the rich history of the western Christian tradition.  Composed by Augustine of Hippo, the paradigm of Christian thought for much of church history, in the late fourth century of the Common Era, its content meanders through fields of theology, psychology, history, philosophy, and spirituality. The goal of our course is to identify what questions Augustine is asking of himself and the means by which he goes about trying to provide answers.  Augustine is going to suggest that there are answers to be found, and these resolutions make sense to him after his acceptance of an orthodox Christian worldview, but his queries and methodology are not exclusively Christian, which gives this text a universal appeal.  Although an intensely personal narrative, the Confessions has a pastoral intent.  It is this intent that we shall explore by means of contextualization and close reading.

Taught by Dr. Chris Kelly, theologian and Christian historian, member of the department since 2008