Letters From a Young Catholic

My reflections as a Catholic young adult passionate about the Faith, seeking to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and discerning the will of the Lord in my life.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Course Round-Up

Pretend you're me (ok, maybe don't. . .) and you're in your second to last semester of your undergraduate program. You're hoping to get a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Modern Languages and Christianity & Culture. You've already finished most of your Modern Language requirements. So what courses do you take?

Well, first some background. I attend a small Catholic liberal arts college that was founded under the direction of the Franciscan University of Stubenville and is associated with the largest private Christian university in Canada. What?! Yeah, that's right, I'm studying at a Catholic college, faithful to the magisterium and adhering fully to Ex Corde Ecclesiae, that is working alongside an Evangelical Protestant university. It's definitely a unique relationship but it actually works quite well.

Basically I take almost all my theology and philosophy courses at the Catholic college and I take everything else on the main campus of the larger university. This enables the Catholic college to offer courses to Catholic students working towards dozens of different majors offered by the larger university. Since the university is structured on a basic liberal arts program, everyone has to take at least a few theology and philosophy courses regardless of their major. Besides offering a Catholic education to Catholic students this relationship makes for amazing opportunities for ecumenical dialogue. In fact, the Catholic college even offers an upper-level course in Ecumenical Dialogue which I took last year. Many Protestant students register for courses at the college not realizing it's Catholic but they generally tough it out and gain a new appreciation for the Catholic Faith. For instance, I have a Protestant friend who took one course at the Catholic college last year and liked it so much that he decided he'd like to take some more Catholic theology. He's currently in the Theological Vision of Pope John Paul II course I'm taking this semester!

Anyways, that's the background. So here are my courses for this semester. Five of them are at the Catholic college and one is a religious studies course that I have to take for my major that isn't offered yet by the college.

LATIN 211: Medieval Ecclesiastical Latin. Our professor told us on the first day that it will be sink or swim for the first little while. It should be really interesting and I think I'll be able to keep my head above water with my background in Spanish and French. I needed two more courses for my Modern Languages major and I convinced the department head to let me take two Latin classes. I know it's not exactly modern but it's definitely relevant to studying French and Spanish. It's also very relevant to further studies in theology and philosophy.

PHIL 304: Metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas. I spent an entire day this weekend doing the first reading assignment for this class. Need I say more? What does metaphysics touch on? It's the philosophy of being. Everything. What are we reading? A really really big and scary book (St. Thomas Aquinas' Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics. . . cover to cover). We're also reading a book by a Catholic physicist, Anthony Rizzi, called The Science Before Science.

PHIL 109: Informal Logic. Learning how to think. That's always a good thing.

RELS 473: The Theological Vision of Pope John Paul II. I've already posted about this course because I think it's going to be an amazing class. I am definitely a member of the JPII Generation and I've already read a lot of the material being covered in this class but I am super (yes, super) excited about this class.

RELS 360: Christian Apologetics. The title is pretty self-explanatory. We're reading A Refutation of Moral Relativism by Dr. Peter Kreeft, Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Kreeft and Tacelli, and A Primer on Postmodernism by Stanley J. Grenz.

RELS 461: Contemporary Christianity in a Global Context. Now this class should be, ummm. . . interesting. It's a required course for the Christianity & Culture program and one of the few theology courses that I need to take that is not offered by the Catholic college. In fact, this is the only course I'm taking from the Protestant university this semester. This course will look at Christianity from Descartes to the present day. The professor is one of those guys that seems to be trying to row across the Tiber but is getting caught in some currents along the way. He described himself to the class today as "a late-modern and anti-modern who denies he is a post-modern." Huh? He's a big fan of Dietrich Von Hildebrand (good) but also of Hans Küng (not so good). As an added bonus, I'm the only Catholic student in the class. That kind of places a big burden on my shoulders to be extra attentive and make sure that the Catholic Faith is presented accurately and that he doesn't try and pass Hans Küng off as a Catholic theologian! Metaphysics and Informal Logic will definitely come in handy during this course. Taking a class like this certainly increases my learning curve dramatically. There's no way I can let things fly by when the lectures touch on the Catholic Faith (which they will, because this professor is one of those Evangelicals who has become fascinated with the idea of 'Tradition'. . . ) and I'm the only Catholic in the class!

Well, all this being said, I'm going to go pull out the books and get reading!