Monday, September 12, 2011

Wisdom from Master Kong

As those who follow this blog know, I'm currently in my first semester as an assistant professor of religion at Lindenwood University. Part of my consistent teaching load is a course introducing students to the world's major religions. It has been a lot of fun getting into these religions and their primary texts and, as an aside, my Barthianism makes it especially easy to find this stuff interesting and useful while also non-threatening.

In any case, I came across a passage from Master Kong (Confucius) in the Analects this morning and it struck a chord with me. I would go so far to say that it encapsulates the modus operandi of this blog at least, and also my own approach to the theological task - at least as that approach takes shape in the present stage of my career. So, here it is:
"I once did not eat all day and did not sleep all night in order to think, but there was no benefit. It would have been better to study" (15.31).

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2 comments:

Collin said...

Travis -- I would be very curious to know how your Barthianism influences your pedagogical approach to world religions. That was, obviously, not something Hunsinger's class touched on. Where does Barth comment on "world religions" in CD or elsewhere? and what do you see as your educative goal for teaching world religions in a university context, esp. to students who are (presumably) Christians?

W. Travis McMaken said...

Collin,

As far as specific religions, Barth seldom makes more than off-hand comments. In terms of religion in the abstract, he has a paragraph on it in CD 1.2.

My pedagogical aim is for them to be enriched by what I consider the be the height of human achievement. Of course, from an Augustinian perspective (which Barth inherits, with important modification), that isn't saying much at the end of the day. Luckily I also get to teach 2 weeks on Christianity as part of the course - the class is full of people who are Christians but don't really know what that means. Coincidentally, I'm not at a confessional institution, although it has historical ties to the Presbyterian church.