• 8 Lessons

    GEORGE BERNANOS: The Man and His Work

    In this course, we will read four novels by George Bernanos (1888-1948): The Diary of a Country Priest, Mouchette, Under the Sun of Satan, and Monsieur Ouine. Bernanos stands with Sigrid Undset, Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, G.K. Chesterton, Evelyn Waugh, and Francios Mauriac as the greatest Catholic novelists of the 20th century. Students will be encouraged to watch the three films made of these novels, two directed by Robert Bresson and one by Maurice Pialat. (Bresson, by the way, is the greatest Catholic director in the history of film.) I will provide directions on how to find and view these films online. Students will also be encouraged to pursue supplemental readings in the non-fiction works of Bernanos and other critical works about his life and work. In all eight sessions, we will put aside some time to discuss the life of Bernanos against the background of French and European history and of the Church.

  • 8 Lessons

    IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD: Poetry and Christology in the Gospel of John

    In this course, we will engage in a close reading of John's gospel, looking very closely at John's poetic interweaving of theological motifs embodied in such important words as "word," "name," "glory," "truth," "light," and "grace." We will assume that John the apostle is the author, that he is a native speaker of Aramaic and a reader of Hebrew, but that he is composing directly into Greek -- composing with the poetry of Jesus ringing in his soul.

  • 6 Lessons

    THE WASTE LAND Revisited: T.S. Eliot’s Diagnosis of Modernity

    A century ago, T.S. Eliot wrote The Waste Land, a monumental poem that diagnosed the ills of modernity which have only intensified since the work took the literary world by storm in 1922. The long and difficult poem, modernist in style if not in substance, was a tour de force written by the most learned poet of his time, a man steeped not only in the literary traditions of the past, but equally well read in the fields of culture, history, philosophy and theology. Moved by the same fierce intellectual curiosity that animated a Socrates or a St. Augustine, Eliot was a seeker intent on finding answers to life’s perennial questions. The poem, which in final form ran to nearly four hundred lines, is an Erasmus-like reflection on the state of mankind – its pain and suffering, its failures and folly; its longing for goodness, beauty and love, side-by-side with the daily reality of life apparently shorn of significance, value and purpose. The honest diagnosis is grim and not for the faint of heart, but also raises possibilities for remedy and relief. For those who have never read The Waste Land, or who have attempted to study it over only one or two class periods, this eight-week course will provide an in-depth look at one of the great poems of our age – great owing to its power, profundity and apprehension of truth.