Elizabeth Corey on “Civility in War-Time”

Over at the Law & Liberty blog, Dr. Elizabeth Corey writes on the profound value of civility, a traditional practice that is presently much out of fashion. Dr. Corey serves on the advisory board of Brazos Fellows, and is an erstwhile guest instructor in our Course of Study. In this essay, she invites us to reconsider the importance of civility even, and perhaps especially, during such a divided time:

“Civility helps people to weather political differences with grace and it allows us to find common ground with others in realms of life that are not political at all. These other realms are arguably more important than politics. A conservative and progressive, for example, may discover that despite deep ideological disagreements they both love to cook or garden, or that their children have become best friends, or that they love each other’s sense of humor. Civility is essential to such relationships because it intimates where and where-not to go in conversation, where to be silent and where it would be acceptable to disagree. The practice of civility opens us to a host of relationships that would otherwise be impossible.”

The whole essay is well worth your time.

5 in 10: Anne Jeffrey

Today the Brazos Fellows finished our unit on Christianity and society with a discussion of Oliver O’Donovan’s excellent little book, Common Objects of Love: Moral Reflection and the Shaping of Community. (Long-time readers of the blog will remember that in fall 2018 the Brazos Fellows enjoyed a lecture and evening discussion with Prof. O’Donovan.) Our class this morning was led by Dr. Anne Jeffrey, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Baylor. Dr. Jeffrey teaches and writes on metaethics, the virtue tradition of normative ethics, political and legal philosophy, bioethics, and the philosophy of religion. It was a real treat for the fellows to discuss with Dr. Jeffrey a number of interesting questions surrounding moral deliberation and what it means for Christians to live as citizens of both the “city of God” and the “city of man.”


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Christian History as Confession

I’m pleased to share my contribution to “A Symposium on Teaching Virtue: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Pedagogy, Liturgy, and Moral Formation,” recently published in the International Journal of Christianity & Education.[1] 

What We Have Done and What We Have Left Undone: Christian History as Confession
by Paul Gutacker

At the midpoint of the Eucharistic liturgical rite, there comes a moment when the congregation is called to remember. We are invited to kneel, to silently consider our pasts, and then to give voice to “what we have done and what we have left undone.” (Book of Common Prayer, 1979: 331)As a turning point in the liturgy, and, indeed, a biblically-mandated discipline, confession is foundational for the spirituality of each Christian believer and the life of the church. Perhaps this liturgical act, in some sense, is also emblematic for all Christian reflection on the past. As the liturgical moment of remembrance, confession informs how and why we attend to history. How might liturgical confession serve as a model for our historical pedagogy? In this essay, I suggest that three aspects of confession – its posture, its understanding of knowledge, and its ends – ought to inform how and why we teach history. Together, these show that the liturgical act of confession offers a fruitful framing metaphor for the historical classroom.

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Rational Wonder: The Brazos Fellows and the Early Christian Catechetical Schools

Editor’s note: please enjoy this guest post by Alex Fogleman, one of the Brazos Fellows tutors and director of the Institute for the Renewal of Christian Catechesis. If you’re unfamiliar with the crucial work of IRCC, be sure to peruse its website and blog.

It’s been a delight for me to join the Brazos Fellows on a number of occasions in the Course of Study as an instructor, as well as to get to know the fellows and pray with them on a regular basis. This is an extraordinary group of people.

I have often had the experience, however, of not knowing quite how to describe what makes the Brazos Fellows so special. Yes, the directors, Paul and Paige Gutacker, are exceptional people, wise beyond their years. Yes, the integrated approach to learning is truly inspiring—a rigorous course of study, life together in community and common worship, a rule of life and spiritual disciplines, and spiritual direction and vocational coaching. These are all amazing facets of the program.

But even still, when trying to put words to the unique practice of education that is Brazos Fellows, I’m often left with few examples to compare it to. At least not in this century.

However, as a student of early Christianity, and particularly the history of catechesis, I am struck by the parallels of the Brazos Fellows with the early Christian “catechetical schools”—particularly those associated with one of the greatest theologians and biblical scholars of the early church, Origen of Alexandria (ca. 185–251).

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