Thursday, March 15, 2007

Great moments in pedagogy

Today in the class I'm TAing we discussed an essay by Stanley Hauerwas. As always, my sections went better than I expected considering I'm always preparing for them the day I teach them. Two moments stand out:
  1. When I asked them what was significant about Constantine, in two of my sections students started talking about how he decided what books would be in the Bible. The first time I had no idea where they were getting this; the second one of them mentioned The Da Vinci Code, and I burst out, "Oh, don't read The Da Vinci Code!", which the class found amusing. I never know how much of the general Christian freakout about TDVC is hype and how much of it is legit, but apparently it does influence what my very intelligent students think about the history of Christianity. But it gave me an opportunity to riff on New Testament criticism for a couple of minutes, and that's something I really know about even though it's not relevant to the class. So that was fun.
  2. One of my students referred to Hauerwas as a "shock rocker," which I thought was great. Stanley Hauerwas, the shock rocker of theologians.


Eric said...

My word; has that book become so pervasive in student thought that it clouds true history? I guess I need to put it a hold on it at SPL and finally read it.

Juliet said...

I'm glad I read it. I mean, it's not very good, as a novel or a lesson in church history. But I don't think I could do what I do and not have read it sooner or later. It does provoke interesting discussions. If you read it, we can complain about it together!

Anonymous said...

Okay, i tagged over here from LofL, and teach in North Carolina... but this entry was a great learning moment for me....lauren

Is that where that annoying "fact" came from? Someone at the student newspaper here wrote this extended essay on why Christians are idiots, and mostly argued it was because the Catholic church "hid" books of the bible by keeping them out of the KJV (what?? not even a Catholic translation!) and that Constantine initiated a pogrom or holocaust against non-Christians. I thought it was something out of Chick's Tracts; I would never have guessed it was the DVCode.

Anonymous said...

of course, now that i think of it, perhaps I shouldn't have addressed everyone with my vague introduction, just the author, since juliet knows me... :)
Congrats, btw!! lauren

Juliet said...

Thanks, Lauren! I'm glad you visited my little blog.

Chick tracts are pretty awesome, in a perverse sort of way. Justin refers to the Eucharist as the "Jesus cookie." We have friends who collect them.

The Constantine stuff is probably the most glaringly obvious error in TDVC. I mean, it's not even based on texts that exist but aren't canonical, it's just completely made up. Although I don't really buy into the idea that believing first-century texts about Jesus written a couple generations after his lifetime is totally irrational, but second- and third-century texts are reliable, because...because since there's no evidence that Jesus and Mary Magdalene hooked up, and because that's such a provocative idea, it must mean the church suppressed it, so therefore it's true! or something like that. (It's a good conspiracy theory, which is why Foucault's Pendulum is such a superior book to TDVC. Also Umberto Eco can write.)

Anonymous said...

YES... I always loved Foucault's Pendulum and figured I didn't ever need to read DVC, since I already had read one very good conspiracy theory that explained all of world history.

I once read another good one... where the pope had been replaced by an antipope in the 50s or 60s who then died... and there was a stream of fake popes after him, but the real pope from the 50s was held captive in the basement of the vatican... The newer fake pope hired a detetive priest to solve some antichrist mystery and in the process the priest discovered the dying real pope... it was a "hoot" but no Eco.