I’d like to take a post to quickly review the classes I completed during Year One of the great graduate school project.
Vocation & Orientation (1st Quarter): This class almost convinced me that I had made a terrible mistake applying to seminary. We sat around and talked about our “calls.” It took me a while to learn that I too have a call; now I tell people, “I called myself.”
Ethical Analysis & Advocacy (1Q): Fortunately, I was taking Ethics at the same time I was taking V&O. Ethics felt like a validation of my choice to attend graduate school. This wasn’t your undergraduate philosophy course. It was in this class that I read the only book about Christianity that has ever made any sense to me, Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins.
Postcolonial Globalization in Africa (1Q): In some ways, this interdisciplinary seminar was closest to the vision I had of what graduate school would be like. Nearly everything was fair game in this class, and the professor pushed back hard. I’ll be taking a class from the same professor this upcoming quarter and I can’t wait.
Government & Nonprofit Cooperation (1Q): I don’t have much to say about this class because, first, it was quite short, and second, I’m not particularly interested in working within the existing nonprofit paradigms.
Foundations of Social Change (2Q): Foundations is a core course for my degree. It was also the first class in which I openly discussed atheism as a religious proposition.
Hispanic Ethics & Theology (2Q): Given that I’m attending a seminary, taking a class in theology was inevitable. I decided that I didn’t want to take theology without also focusing on ethics.
Identity, Power & Difference (2Q): IPD, as it is called, is a required class for all students. While it bills itself as teaching students to confront and navigate issues of identity, power, and difference, I experienced it as training us for the missionary field. Since I wasn’t prepared to take Mission Prep 101, I resisted and later resented the curriculum. While the class was conceived with good intentions, I felt it did a great deal of harm.
Solidarity & Working Across Difference (2Q): There are two different concepts here, that of “solidarity” and that of “working across difference.” The first is a much higher standard. The second is a daily occurrence. Both are incredibly important to the project of creating an inclusive, organized atheism.
Discovery & Management of Theological Resources (3Q): I consider research to be one of my major strengths. I took this short course in research in order to further strength my skills.
The Heart of Islam (3Q): This was one of my favorite classes. The guest lecturer was Dr. Omid Safi and he was outstanding. This was an important class for me to attend because there is such Islamophobia in the atheist community. I do not call Sam Harris an Islamophobe pejoratively; it is a literal description of the type of fear that causes one (Harris) to accuse a world religion of being a “religion of conquest.”
Independent study on neoliberalism and carcerality (3Q): One of the major reasons to be a prison abolitionist is the vast amount of money that private prisons divert to the wrong type of corporations. Is this an atheist issue? Well…it is for me. I think it may be that religions have the market cornered on ethics of disposability, so why don’t we (non)believers try an ethic of reconciliation?
Community Organizing (3Q): And damn do we need it.
Nonviolence (3Q): I wish this class had used a significantly broader definition of violence. While I recognize that the theory and practice of “nonviolence” has specific intellectual origins as well as an assortment of associated historical events, there’s something depressing about ignoring every kind of violence that isn’t purely physical.
Internship Seminar (4Q).