This past weekend Brazos Fellows, along with the Graduate Anglicans of Christ Church, hosted Dr. David I. Smith for a symposium titled “On Christian Teaching.” David is Professor of Education and Director of the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning at Calvin College, and a leading scholar in the field of Christian education and pedagogy. He’s written and edited a number of fantastic books on the subject, including Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning with James K.A. Smith, Teaching and Christian Imagination, and most recently, On Christian Teaching: Practicing Faith in the Classroom.
On Friday and Saturday, a number of graduate students, Brazos Fellows alumni and tutors, and local teachers reflected together on a question posed by David: what does it mean to teach as a Christian? (Below you’ll find a number of excellent resources, both print and online, on this question.)
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Editor: please enjoy this reflection from Brazos Fellow Jess Schurz, which she wrote for our End of Year Celebration.
Our first day of Brazos Fellows was a sunny one. It began, of course, around a table–in this instance, the Lula Janes table underneath the blackboard menu. That afternoon, we shared the lunch special, introductions, and that distinct nervous-excitement assortment that tends to characterize beginnings.
Following the lunch, we left for a Skylar Ray-led tour of Waco. Paige prefaced our outing by emphasizing that “place matters. You cannot know who you are,” she explained, “without first knowing where you are and where you’ve been.” And so we piled into the Schorlemer’s suburban, off to embark on answering the important prior question “Of what story do I find myself a part?” That day we were on the edge of things; we committed ourselves to a group of people and a place for nine months but had not yet entered into it.
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Yesterday our Course of Study enjoyed a visit from Brazos Fellows guest instructor Dr. Alan Jacobs. Dr. Jacobs is Distinguished Professor of Humanities in the Honors Program at Baylor, where he teaches and writes on theology and literature, literary theory and the history of criticism, and technologies of reading, writing and research. His many books include The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction and The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography, and most recently How To Think and The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis.
Dr. Jacobs introduced the fellows to the poetry of W.H. Auden, specifically Auden’s Horae Canonicae, a series of seven poems that, as Jacobs put it, “take place on the day of the Crucifixion; or, considered in another way, on any Good Friday; or, considered in yet a different way, on every day of our lives.” It was a fantastic discussion of a marvelous poem (which you can listen to Auden reading here.)
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Today the fellows discussed the work of Ephraim Radner with Cody Strecker. Cody is a PhD candidate in Theology at Baylor, a Brazos Fellows Tutor, and a frequent guest instructor for the fellows. He also serves as family catechist at Christ Church Waco–although he and his family will be moving on this summer, as he’s taken a position as Visiting Assistant Professor of Theology at Hillsdale College.
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A few weeks ago, the Brazos Fellows community gathered together over lunch to share stories from year one of the fellowship. It was wonderful to hear several of the fellows and tutors reflect on our year together: new ways of thinking about and practicing prayer, deeper understandings of our identity in Christ, and the value of studying in a community that practices spiritual disciplines.
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Today our class had the privilege of discussing Alexander Schmemann’s For the Life of the World, a wonderful 20th c. work of theology, with Christina Lambert. Christina just defended her M.A. thesis at Baylor on Wendell Berry and ecocriticism, and she’s beginning the Ph.D. in Literature at Baylor this Fall. The fellows had a great time with Christina discussing Schmemann’s sacramental theology, his close reading of the Eucharistic liturgy, and the way in which he helps us recognize the cosmic significance of what we’re up to in our Christian worship.
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What can we learn about the Christian life from the long history of Christian monasticism? What does monasticism have to teach us about marriage, celibacy, and community? In what sense is every Christian called to a kind of monasticism?
In March, Brazos Fellows partnered with Baylor’s Honors College to host Fr. Greg Peters, professor at the Torrey Honors Program (Biola University) and Nashotah House, to speak on the topic of “The Monkhood of All Believers.” You can now listen to Fr. Peters’ talk here:
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