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Radical Lives of Proclamation
This course provides a window into the spiritual lives of six visionaries: Pauli Murray, Óscar Romero, Cho Wha Soon, William Stringfellow, Malcolm X, and Howard Thurman. Considerable attention has been directed to their lives as social activists and teachers but this course focuses on their lives as preachers. We will examine each preacher’s understanding of God, the human person, and community and think about the ways these factors fund spirituality and shape sermons. We will also give significant attention to the faith each visionary lived and contrast it with the faith s/he articulated publicly. Ultimately, we will use these visionaries as models and find authentic ways to embrace their legacies in our own preaching.
Students should have completed the introductory Old Testament or New Testament course and REL 812
The assignments include:
A. Two 15-minute sermons on scripture passages of your choosing. Allow the visionary assigned for the week or previous week to inspire your approach to hermeneutics, form, delivery, or shape your spiritual preparation process. Plan to discuss the visionary’s influence in class after you preach. Complete the sermon self-evaluation (available on Canvas) within one week of delivering your sermon.
B. A Theological Self-Portrait. Consider the following questions:
1. Who is God?
2. How is God known?
3. What are human beings and what are the aims of human life?
4. What is the role of proclamation in the life of faith?
The questions are designed to probe your theological framework and provide a foundation for rich conversation in the course. You may provide your answers in 7-8 double-spaced pages of prose or use a combination of prose, poetry, image, and/or music. Plan to share your responses with the class in 7-10 minutes.
C. An original spiritual profile of a preacher whose radical life of proclamation would make him or her a good conversation partner for the visionaries we are studying in the course. Your profile may take the form of either:
1. An illustrated 4,000-word feature-length magazine article pitched for an informed, popular audience (ex. The New Yorker) or
2. A graphic novella.
Make a 7-minute presentation on your visionary drawing on your magazine article or graphic novella. Sketch the contours of the person’s spirituality and share the insights he or she offers for contemporary preachers.
D. Bring in discussion stimuli based on the assigned readings for the week. Your stimulus might take the form of an image, a brief poem, or a news article that relates to the reading assigned for that week. Over the course of the semester, bring in 4 stimuli.
Weights for the various assignments are as follows:
A. Theological Self-Portrait (20%)
B. Sermon 1 (20%)
C. Sermon 2 (20%)
D. Spiritual Profile (20%)
E. Completion of discussion stimuli, sermon self-evaluations, and contribution to learning atmosphere (20%)
Feedback for the course takes a variety of forms and includes group discussions following sermons and presentations, narrative feedback from the professor, and letter grades. Students are also welcome to meet with the professor during office hours to talk about their progress in the course. In any event, feedback is offered steadily throughout the semester to minimize surprises at the conclusion of the course.