Introduction to Theology

This had to be the second, if not, then at least one of the top five, best thing that happened during the summer. This class sealed and locked my decision to major in theology (along with declaring pre-med). ((In case for those of you not in the know, pre-med is not an actual major — furthermore, pre-meds can declare whatever major they like.)) This class kept me going throughout the summer. It was the coal for my coal engine and the (yet to be produced) hydrogen fuel for my automobile. As motivated as I was during the summer term, imagine how that motivation will encompass the latter three years of my college career. ((I can’t take any more theology courses until I’ve accrued a sophomore standing. Additionally, perhaps I’ll be at Marquette for more than four years? That is doubtful, but I wouldn’t completely throw the idea out with the cat.))

I don’t even know what I want to begin to share. The entire class was phenomenal. Particularly, I probably enjoyed the first half better than the second; even asserting that is a wild claim on my part — I loved the entire class and the contents. It was especially satisfying to have learned in an academic environment about things I had learned and discovered on my own. Drawing from my research paper on the Bible during my senior year, Mr. Oliverio (Mr. O, the professor; more on him later) brought up and taught us topics including the Wellhausen Hypothesis/the Pentateuch, Aquinas’ “Five Ways”, Biblical development, and C.S. Lewis. That seems such a tiny list, and I had to scrape my head for things we learned that I already learned before hand. It was still an awesome class. I incredibly wish I could take another course this fall or spring.

Now Mr. O: I liked him as a professor, and guy. He’s neat. I actually found out during one of my three meetings with him that he attends Metrobrook (I think). Metrobrook is a branch of the church I attend, Elmbrook church. That’s neat in itself. I appreciated him for that fact, but also for the fact that I scored an introductory course with a professor from a more evangelical, but also a definite protestant background. It’s not that I hate Catholics; it’s more that I would have felt more comfortable securing a grip in the basics of Theology from a protestant perspective — something I’m more comfortable with. There is no doubt, though, that I look forward to learning from the Catholic perspective. ((There is also a third level course that surveys the world’s religions. If time allows, I’d like to take that course, but I think the course that would take precedent would be the one regarding Islam. There are so many theology courses I want to take — in fact, I probably wouldn’t mind taking all of them.))

I’m not sure if there is anything else I should elaborate on. Actually, I’m not sure if I know what else I want to elaborate on. The class was in the morning at 8:00. I remember the first few days I woke up around 5:30 AM. That was obviously too early for me, and eventually I slept in until 7:00 as the term carried on. Sometimes I skipped breakfast, but I made it a goal to try and eat and drink something before going to class. Like Fortunate said (paraphrased), “When you study, have little food.”

I’ll finish off with how the readings were; they were awesome. Regardless of their length (save for a few assignments), I devoured every hour spent on the texts. ((I particularly did not enjoy the chapters on sacraments and the Church. It isn’t that I hate those topics. Instead I just feel as if perspectives outside of mine are absurd. I mean that in the nicest and most scholarly way.)) The class allowed me to engage my own Bible more (and even experience my first Catholic mass). ((I’ll make a separate post about that, and I’ll post my paper about it.)) I’m keeping the books I buy for Theology. Knowing that, I want pristine copies. None of this used book stuff. I actually just ordered all of my books today (actually yesterday). That was sort of fun and expensive — more the latter than the former.

Theology rocks. I knew I would love it. I keep reminding myself, though, that I can’t let my relationship with God turn academic. It’s nice that I’m seeing God ((I would have said “Him” here, but then that would be assigning God a gender. We learned about that in class. I’ll just say, it’s not necessarily taboo or bad to call God, “Him”. But to be technically correct and more “liberal”, one should refer to God without any gender specific terms.)) through that perspective, but I can’t make that “lens” the only one I see through.

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6 comments
  1. Tikaniu said:

    Even though it’s not liberal, I’ll always call God a He. Because for some reason one of my friends thinks He’s a she. O_O Even though all over the Bible it says He.

    I love studying the Bible! After finally taking World History I this year (after years of state history and american history), it’s really interesting to see how the Bible fits in with everything happening around Israel. One of the things that I would love to research are the prophecies (particularily the ones Daniel has) that tell about the coming empires and kingdoms after the Persians and Medes. I picked out Alexander the Great (Greece Empire) and ‘the four horns’ that split up his empire (in other words his generals that took over when he died). I also managed to pick out Rome, the empire made of Iron and Clay, which was really strong but split up in the end (Western and Eastern empires). These our just my guesses, but I’m pretty sure I nailed Alexander the Great down.

    I learned a lot about Islam last year in my history class too. We spent a lot of time on it because Islam became an empire. I think I still have the Five Pillars memorized.

    As for those Church sacraments and stuff like that, I don’t really enjoy those either. I never understood why those positions like the Pope became so incredibly powerful.

    Sorry for the extremely long comment. Heh.

    • Nate said:

      The paternal references to God are dominant in the Bible, however it’s important to know that God is transcendent of gender. He is as expressed as a father, for one, because the father played such an important role in the historical contexts of the Bible; the authors of the Bible were probably using what imagery they could use at the time. In defense of one of your other friends (although I wouldn’t agree that God is completely a “she”), God is described in maternal terms — especially in the Old Testament with concern to God’s motherly compassion towards Israel. In fact, the Hebrew term for compassion, “rachmin”, is derived from the Hebrew term for the womb, “rechmen”. From that progression, you can draw the idea that compassion stems from the womb; that is, compassion comes from the mother; that which then means compassion comes from God in a maternal connotation.

      That’s incredibly fascinating how your love for history tied in somehow with the Biblical text. I have little working knowledge about history in the times of the Bible, but if there is any era in history that captivates me, that is the era. That’s pretty skillful, I think, that you can read the historical actualities from the prophetic assertions.

      I just saw a Nat Geo documentary on the Koran (Inside the Koran). It was two hours and so good! Nat Geo has had a flurry of skeptical/popular folklore concerning Christianity and the Bible (i.e. Jesus having a son), and I thought it was about time Nat Geo did some stuff regarding other religions — especially Islam since it has become incredibly prevalent in our modern world.

      Once you take a basic theology course or dabble in some learning on your own time, you’ll learn how the Catholic tradition came into place. My distrust in Catholicism is unfair though; the corruption of the Church in the Early Medieval era should shed no light on how I think of the Catholic Church today. It’s a frustrating issue for me though; I’ll probably write up an entry on that sometime later.

      Sorry for the length (if that is something to be sorry about). I love these types of discussions.

      • Tikaniu said:

        Haha, I could hardly consider myself with a ‘love’ for history. Though I do enjoy old World History and the ties in with the Bible, I’ve never been great with dates and important documents and all of that other stuff. I guess it’s because of all those years of state history and American history. Over and over and over again!! And after studying the Renaissance era, I’m not so sure I enjoy the history after that much… heh.

        You’re a good discusser. What you wrote about God’s gender is making me think quite a bit. I guess in a way God can be genderless, but I was raised to believe God was a He. It’s kind of hard to take in. Because not only are there numerous occasions where God is referred to as a He and as a Father, but He also placed men as the authoritative figure over women. But then again, maybe God’s gender is just totally beyond what we can comprehend, as are many things about Him.

        I’m very interested in reading that article on the Catholic Church.

      • Tikaniu said:

        ‘He also placed men as the authoritative figure over women.’

        I didn’t mean that in a negative way. I just meant that back then men were considered higher in social status than women. Well come to think of it, I’m not really sure if that was God’s intention or not, seeing as there are important women like Esther, Ruth, and Deborah in the Bible. In a way I do believe it a little, since Adam was created first, but really, not in a negative way.

      • Nate said:

        I understand where you are getting the ideas that God is a male, and they have strong validations. However, I’d invite you to consider the consequences of God having a gender.
        If God does possess a gender, then I think one of the more pertinent questions would be, “Why?” Why would God be male instead of female or vice versa? That could be seen as indirect indication of superiority, whereas, I think, the creation story accounts for the dependency between man and woman. Man was created first, but God saw that it was “not good” without woman. If woman had been created first, I think the God would have made man out of necessity too.
        I’ve always viewed God as genderless. God in Jesus is humanized as a male (which might also be a reason why people picture God as male), but I think that was out of convenience for the historical-social aspect. For me, God is depicted primarily in paternal terms because the male was so dominant in the Ancient Near Eastern civilizations. Describing God as a female back then would have been like a child in our modern culture describing their life goal to be a garbage collector (I have nothing against a child dreaming of doing that if that is their heartfelt desire; garbage collectors do something I would never like to do and I praise them for that); it would be futile, but not entirely useless.
        Paul wrote in Galatians: There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Men and women are on the same ground, and God is on a higher one. I don’t think it’s safe or logical for us to pull God down to our ground and call him a guy or girl. I do, however, view God more male as opposed to more female, but I firmly believe God is genderless.

  2. Tikaniu said:

    Nate, you’re killing me with all your genius talking! You are a really good writer, you know. And dang it you’ve sorta convinced me.

    Though I’ll still refer to God as He (since we’re both inclined that way and that’s the way it’s written in the Bible), God is a God that we’ll never be able to fully understand.

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