24 June 2002

Today I started teaching a summer class at La Salle University. There were eleven students signed up at one point, but the official roster now only lists nine and a mere six showed up today. Still, that's enough to run the class according to the official rules. The class is called "Philosophical Approaches to God."

Of the six students who showed up, four are Catholic, one is Presbyterian, and one is Episcopalian, though not all of them are active and practicing. This diversity will be helpful and interesting, however, since we both share a common core of beliefs while having experienced God and religion in a variety of contexts. What's more, the class is ethnically diverse since the two Protestants are African-American and three out of the four Catholics are Latina. Thus the cultural expressions of faith we each bring to the class will also represent varying traditions. I'm looking forward to seeing how our class interaction develops.

The book we are using is edited by Brian Davies and is entitled Philosophy of Religion: A Guide and Anthology (Oxford 2000). It includes readings both classic (Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas), modern (Clifford, Hume), and contemporary (Alston, Plantinga). The topics covered are likewise wide-ranging: faith and reason, "God-talk", arguments for the existence of God, religious experience, the problem of evil, the attributes of God, morality and religion, and life after death. I plan on covering all of these in the six week alotted to us.

It would be difficult for the students to have to read all the articles included in the volume, so I will be selecting among them, dividing the readings between ones I expect everyone to read and ones which will be summarized by means of in-class presentations. Each student will have to give several presentations and I hope to assign the articles in juxtaposition in such a way as to provoke discussion. If all goes well, I pray that the class will be a impetus for each student to come to a deeper understanding and commitment to the Faith in which they are all baptized.