Fall 2012: Death and Dying
Join us for online sessions every Thursday from 8:00-9:00 p.m.
Drop-ins and Occasional Participants Always Welcome!!
Is there a right way to grieve the loss of someone? Does the growth of medical technology make death more difficult to face? In what way does death denial fuel violence between individual and social groups? What are the various religious understandings of death and what happens after death? Can dying well be considered a spiritual discipline? These are just some of the questions we will be considering during the fall session of the People’s Academy. This class will primarily be an online learning experience. Starting the first week of October, we will meet weekly in an online forum using video chat technology. This means that you can participate with your computer from the comfort of your own home! If you are unavailable during the online time slot, you may participate in the discussion by posting to an online forum. Additionally, we will meet face-to-face three times over the course of the fall. Some of the texts and media that will inform our discussion includes: Leo Tolstoy's novel Death of Ivan Ilyich, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross's On Death and Dying, "Flight from Death: the Quest for Immortality" (video) and Lucy Bregman's Death and Dying in the World Religions. Sessions are facilitated by Dave Krueger – an adjunct professor of religion who teaches at Temple University. Please register for the class and/or request more information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is it really possible to have a live online video group discussion?
Why, yes it is! Google has come to the rescue! There are a few (fairly) simple steps that are required.
1. You will need a computer with internet access and a working microphone and video camera.
2. If you have not done so already, you will need to open a Gmail account and upgrade to Google+
4. Send me an email from your Gmail account and I will enroll you in one of my “friend circles” that I have called “People’s Academy Death and Dying Discussion Group.”
5. Prior to the start of our scheduled online session, make sure you are logged into your Gmail account. Click on your Google+ button. Your discussion leader will invite you to participate in a “hangout.” When you are invited, you should be a notification in the upper right hand corner of your Google+ page. As I understand it, all you need to do is respond yes and you will able to see and hear small screens of the other class members. When a person speaks, their face comes to the large screen. You have the option of turning your camera off if you want to go incognito.
NOTE: All of this is absolutely free of charge. However, a Google hangout space only has room for ten hanger-outers. Therefore, you may want to buddy up with someone and share a computer.
Thursday, October 4: 8:00-9:00pm (Online Meeting)
Discussion: Does the denial of the reality of death contribute to violence in society?
We will continue watching clips from Flight from Death: The Quest for Immortality
Discussion: What does it mean to live a meaningful life?
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/tolstoy/ivan.txtThis is a compelling but short novella of about 100 pages.
:00-9:00pm (Online Meeting)
Discussion: Elisabeth Kubler-Ross “5 stages of grief” – How do people grieve? Is there a right way to grieve?
:00-9:00pm (Online Meeting)
Discussion: Sherwin Nuland’s medical views on death – What happens to the body during the dying process?
:00-9:00pm (Online Meeting)
:00-9:00pm (Final Online Meeting)
Please watch the film in advance if possible so we can spend our time in discussion.
Past courses have included:
Spring 2012: THE EVOLUTION OF CHRISTIANITY
This course traces the history of Christianity from its origins with Jesus of Nazareth and the followers of “The Way,” to its ascendency as an imperial religion, to the explosion of diversity in the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation. We will pay particular attention to how doctrines, rituals, and traditions were both shaped by and influenced social, economic and political realities. The writings of important Christian theologians, mystics, missionaries, reformers and rebels will be viewed in their cultural and historical context. Participants in this class will also be introduced to the colorful variations within Christianity with special emphasis on the groups represented in the U.S. today.
Fall 2011: Introduction to the Religions of the World
In a world fractured by religious conflict, it is more important than ever to become peacemakers who have the skills to reach across religious difference.
In this People's Academy course, you will:
--Learn about the major religious traditions found worldwide today: Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and several indigenous religious traditions i.e. Santeria, Candomble & Lakota.
--Examine the rituals, beliefs, worldviews, practices, and values of these groups through reading sacred texts and commentaries. Our interdisciplinary analysis and interpretation of specific examples of religious experience will help shed light on the overall meaning of religion and human existence.
--Develop appreciation for the religious vibrancy and diversity that exist in human cultures and reflect on what it means to embrace a Christian identity in a religiously pluralistic world.
SABBATH ECONOMICS: BIBLICAL ECONOMICS AND OUR WORLD
In a world economy dominated by globalization, consumerism, and corporate capitalism are there any meaningful alternatives? Does our Christian faith have any resources to help us respond? This series will explore the various economic values, teachings, and practices throughout the Bible, including the Mosaic covenant, the vision of Jubilee, the prophets, Jesus and the early church. Group members will reflect on how these biblical economic values nurture a human community of reverence, abundance, equity and care for creation. Participants will discern the implications of these biblical teachings for our own economic practices - as individuals, as communities, as congregations and as citizens of the global economy. This study was facilitated by Will O-Brien of Project H.O.M.E.
UNDERSTANDING THE NATURE OF 'POWER'
This study explored the nature of ‘power.’ Drawing on the perceptive scholarship of diverse theorists such as Antonio Gramsci, Pierre Bourdieu, Edward Said, Michel Foucault, Walter Wink, Mark Lewis Taylor, Martin Luther King, Jr., Traci West and Paolo Freire, we will discuss what ‘power’ is and how it operates in religious, educational, cultural and other social systems. Some questions we will address: What does it mean to 'speak truth to power'? - MLK, Jr. Why are prisons, schools and medical clinics so similar? - Foucault. Why does education so often reproduce unjust power arrangements? - Freire. To what degree is there a 'spiritual' quality to systems of power? - Wink. How can Christian ethics be more 'disruptive'? - West. In what ways are imperialist values embedded in modern literature? - Said. This course provided insights and practical tools for how Christians can effectively pursue peace and justice in a world that so often resists it.
Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People edited by Dorothy C. Bass, published by John Wiley and Sons Inc, 1997.
This volume is an excellent collection of essays covering a variety of topics relevant to Christian living. As a group, we read the essays, Hospitality: How do we become welcoming people? Dying Well: Embracing love while facing death. Discernment: How to make difficult decisions with spiritual integrity. Singing Our Lives: the power of song to change the world. Other essays include 'Honoring the Body', 'Household Economics', 'Saying Yes and Saying No', 'Keeping Sabbath', 'Testimony', 'Shaping Communities', 'Forgiveness', and 'Healing.'
Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin by John D'Emilio - U of Chicago Press, 2003.
Bayard Rustin, a Quaker born in West Chester, PA, was one of the most important figures of the American civil rights movement. He taught Martin Luther King, Jr. the methods of Gandhi, spearheaded the 1963 March on Washington, and helped bring the struggle of African Americans to the forefront of the nation's consciousness. Despite his integral role in the movement, the openly gay Rustin is not the household name that many of his activist contemporaries are. Acclaimed historian John D'Emilio explains why Rustin's influence was minimized by his peers and why his brilliant strategies were only followed by those he never meant to help. As a pacifist, he also spent time in prison for refusing the draft during WWII. Rustin is a compelling figure and his story will stimulate important conversation about Christian faith, social activism and questions of ual and racial identity.
How Much is Enough: Hungering for God in an Affluent Culture by Arthur Simon - Baker Books, 2003.
Author Art Simon (founder of Bread for the World) asks the question, “Why, in the face of unprecedented affluence do so many feel discontented?” He argues that “possessions may capture the heart, but they cannot nourish the soul.” Written in very simple language, this book is geared toward Christians who seek ultimate fulfillment in their relationship to God as well as practical transformation of their daily lives.
Book study: Myths Americans Live By - Richard T. Hughes
Book study: Democracy Matters - Cornel West
Book study: Peace Not Apartheid - Jimmy Carter
Video study: PBS Video Series - The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud
Video study: John Dominic Crossan's study "Victory and Peace or Justice and Peace"
Group study: The Politics of Bible Making