Director’s Class

Every semester the Study Center’s Executive Director offers a class or discussion group designed to help students think through the intellectual challenges created by the intersection of Christian faith and learning in a university setting. The group’s discussions focus on issues created by the students’ own course work, questions raised by the Center’s classes, and challenges raised by Scriptural texts that emphasize the centrality of the mind in a Christian understanding of human experience.

Fall 2017 – Making Sense of the Gospels, Part One

Wednesdays, Period Five (11:45 a.m. – 12:35 p.m.), beginning September 20th
Led by Dr. Richard Horner, located in the CSC Classroom, lunch provided.

Making Sense of the Gospels Part One Syllabus

This class is for students and alumni. 

Part One Syllabus    Register Now  

It is hard to over-estimate the significance of the first four books of the New Testament. Known as the Gospels, they give us the picture of Jesus of Nazareth that has made him as famous a name as any in human history. What shall we make of these four books? What themes and aims do they share? How do their different agendas, perspectives, and editorial policies shape these books and distinguish them from each other? How shall we make sense of the contradictions that appear when we place the gospels alongside each other? And how do the differences work enrich our understanding of the picture of Jesus that they give us?

Whether you have never read the gospels before and have no idea what they say, or read them many times and puzzled over what to make of them, you are welcome in this class. The class will be both accessible to those who are new to these texts and challenging to those who know them well.

Spring 2017 – Why Pascal?

Pre-Modern Prophet for Post-Modern Times

Why focus an entire semester’s class on this seventeenth-century mathematician, scientist, theologian, philosopher, psychologist, inventor, and public servant?
Well, as we say on the Pascal’s Coffeehouse web page, there you have at least seven reasons.
But there’s more.
Blaise Pascal is an inspiration not just as a thoughtful Christian but as a remarkably perceptive critic of the modern mind. He saw at modernity’s dawn what later critics would come to see only at modernity’s dusk, and together with them, he warned us about modernity’s excesses and dangers. The modern burden of lightness continues to weigh heavily on us all and as a culture we have not figured out how to negotiate it.
Pascal can help.
If he sounds at all intriguing, please join us this semester on Wednesdays for lunch and a discussion of his thoughts at 11:45 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. (period five), beginning January 25th. Brief excerpts of Pensées will be provided in each class, so you need not do any outside reading. Lunch is also provided. (This class is for undergrad and grad students, but open to others with instructor’s permission.)

Lecture Audio and Handouts: Listen Now

Unfortunately, audio from Weeks 3 and 6 are unavailable. However, the handout from Week 3 is here:

Submission and Use of Reason

Fall 2016 – “Creative in the Image of God”

Theological Reflections on Imagination and Creativity

Wednesdays, period five (11:45-12:35), beginning September 7, 2016

Description

What does imagination do? How do you think about creativity? What ideas and beliefs frame our artistic efforts?

In this class we will begin with a brief look at some of the ideas that frame imagination and creativity in our current cultural context, and then we will consider ways that thoughtful artists in the Christian tradition have answered these questions too. These artists are not only wonderfully creative in their own work but also brilliant in their reflections on the ways that specific points of Christian theology frame and feed their imaginations. The class will conclude with a brief reflection on the artistic creativity of Jesus.

The class meets in the Study Center Classroom, beginning September 7th and continuing throughout the semester. The class is open to current college and university students and to alumni. Lunch is provided.

Creative in the Image of God Syllabus

Spring 2016 – The Fate of God in the Modern Age

“Could it be possible? [They have] not yet heard anything of this, that God is dead?”

Most of us like to think of ourselves as free and independent thinkers who come to our basic convictions about life by way of sound reason. The truth is, however, our history shapes us far more than we realize. The modern story that leads to our own doorstep doesn’t just push us toward particular conclusions, it shapes our very notion of what counts as reasonable, and at no point is this fact more significant than in our thinking about God. Beginning in the seventeenth century and working into our present moment, this class will explore the ways that the modern story has shaped both what we think and how we think about God. The class meets on Wednesdays during period five (11:45 a.m. – 12:35 p.m.) in the Study Center Classroom, beginning January 20th and continuing throughout the semester. The class is open to current college and university students and to alumni. Lunch is provided.

The Fate of God in the Modern Age Syllabus

Fall 2015 – Pascal and the (Post)Modern

An Invitation from Dr. Horner – Come read my book manuscript with me.

Over the past several years I have been exploring the story of the modern mind and attempting to understand its implications and negotiate its challenges. For the most part my work has focused on Richard Rorty and other late modern or post-modern heirs of Friedrich Nietzsche. I have also been intrigued, however, by the prescient, pre-modern insights of Blaise Pascal, who saw at modernity’s dawn what Nietzsche and his heirs saw late in modernity’s day. In Pascal and the (Post)Modern I explore the challenges of modernity and the intersection between Pascal and these later thinkers. I invite you into a conversation around this manuscript. I am eager to hear your feedback.*

Director’s Class – aimed at students but open to everyone. Every semester we offer a lunchtime class on Wednesdays during period five (11:45 a.m.-12:35 p.m.). This semester it will be a discussion of the first three chapters of Pascal and the (Post)Modern. Lunch is served.

Pascal and the (Post)Modern Director’s Class Schedule
9/16 – Introduction and Overview of the Project
Chapter 1: “The Cultural Logic of Modernity”
9/23 – Identifying the Problem
9/30 – Seeking a Solution
Chapter 2: “Two Cheers for Richard Rorty”
10/7 –  Introducing Rorty
10/14 – Considering Rorty
Chapter 3: “Blaise Pascal in the Philosophical Discourse of Modernity”
10/21 – Introducing Pascal
10/28 – Considering Pascal

Please remember that the text is the property of the author and should not be cited or used in any way without his permission.

*In case you are wondering, this book is not written with a Christian audience in mind. Nor are Christians excluded. The book is written for those who (like its author) struggle to find satisfying ways of understanding human experience in our late-modern milieu.

Spring 2015 –  “Reading the Gospels, Part Two”

From Jesus’ Turn toward Jerusalem to His Entry into Jerusalem

Please Note: Participation in Reading the Gospels, Part One is not required to enjoy this class. This semester we will explore the portion of the gospel narratives that takes us from the Apostle Peter’s profession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah (Christ) to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem for what appears to be the final week of his life. As before, we will place the accounts alongside each other in order to grapple with the challenges and reap the rewards that this approach creates. While the Gospels of Matthew and Mark move through this period rather quickly, both Luke and John offer a much fuller and richer account of this portion of Jesus’ ministry. By the conclusion of the semester either Luke or John will probably become your favorite gospel.   For more details on readings and content, see the Reading the Gospels, Part Two Syllabus. Offered weekly on Wednesdays, period five (11:45 a.m. – 12:35 p.m.), beginning January 14, 2015. This class meets in the classroom at the Christian Study Center. Taught by Dr. Richard V. Horner, Executive Director For UF and SFC students and recent graduates only. Lunch served.

Fall 2014 –  “Reading the Gospels, Part One”

From the Beginning of the Gospel through the Turning Toward Jerusalem

Rooted in a careful reading of the biblical text, this class will keep all four Gospels in view in order to highlight both the challenges and the rewards that follow from setting the accounts alongside each other and allowing their different styles, perspectives, and agendas to emerge. Whether you are reading the Gospels for the first time or the fiftieth time or from a perspective of conviction or skepticism, this class will enrich your reading of this fascinating literature and of the figure that stands at the heart of the story it tells. For more details on readings and content, see Reading the Gospels, Part One Syllabus. Offered weekly on Wednesdays, period five (11:45 – 12:35), beginning September 3, 2014. Meets in the classroom at the Christian Study Center Taught by Dr. Richard V. Horner, Executive Director For UF and SFC students and recent graduates only. Lunch served.

Spring 2014 –  “The Narrative of the Fall in Literature and Life”

This class will begin with a close reading of the narrative of the fall in Genesis chapter three, and then we will explore the ways that this narrative appears in literature and life. This will include a look at the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes as a Hebrew meditation on life in a  fallen world and a look at the New Testament gospel account of the temptation of Jesus. We will then discuss C. S. Lewis’ retelling of the story in Perelandra and consider John Milton’s influential  and extraordinary Paradise Lost. After spring break we will move from Milton to William Blake and from Blake to C. S. Lewis before concluding with Mary Daly, Albert Camus and Blaise Pascal. Students are not required to do any outside reading, but you will gain far more from this class by reading the works that we will be discussing in class. Copies of each will be available on the shelf at the top of the stairs in Pascal’s Coffeehouse. Please do not remove them from the CSC.

 

Syllabus – Spring 2014

Offered weekly on Wednesdays, period five (11:45 – 12:35), January 22 – April 2 In the classroom at the Christian Study Center Taught by Dr. Richard V. Horner, Executive Director For UF and SFC students only. Lunch served.

Fall 2013 – “Contradiction and the Body in a Culture of Possibilities”

We live in a culture of possibilities that is both exciting and troubling. It is, on the one hand, a culture of great creativity and, on the other, a culture of deep contradiction. How shall we understand this culture? How shall we live in it? How does modern culture frame Christianity and how might a Christian understanding of human experience frame modern culture? These are some of the questions we will explore in this semester’s director’s class. Join us for lunch on Wednesdays. Offered weekly on Wednesdays, period five (11:45 – 12:35) beginning September 4th In the classroom at the Christian Study Center

 

09/11 – Framework #1 – The Cultural Logic of Modernity

Handout: Nietzsche

09/18 – So few Postmodernists; So Much Postmodernism – the unbearable burden of the lightness of being

Handout: Nietzsche’s Heirs

Taught by Dr. Richard V. Horner, Executive Director
For UF and SFC students only. Lunch served.

Spring 2013 – “(Mis)Reading Wisdom”

 An Exploration of Old Testament Wisdom Literature

Late-modern culture calls the very notion of wisdom into question, but ancient Wisdom continues to raise her voice. Sometimes she speaks with wonderful clarity and simplicity; sometimes she speaks in profound riddles. This class will listen to the voice of Wisdom and consider ways that she might challenge our thinking and enrich our lives today. In the process, we will probably revise the way you read Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Psalms, and we will definitely learn just how provocative and puzzling this literature can be. We may also find that wisdom lies as much in asking the right questions as in giving the right answers. This course does not require outside reading, but reading the texts in advance will greatly enhance the value of this class. I am also offering optional discussion sections for any who wish to take the discussion beyond what a single class period allows.

Offered weekly on Tuesdays, period five (11:45 – 12:35) beginning January 15th or Fridays, period five (11:45 – 12:35) beginning January 18th.
In the classroom at the Christian Study Center
Office hours: Tuesdays period 7 (1:55-2:45) and Fridays period 4 (10:40-11:30)
 
Taught by Dr. Richard V. Horner, Executive Director For UF and SFC students only. Lunch served.

Spring 2011 – Hebrew Wisdom

Does the very notion of wisdom make sense anymore? Does life require us to understand something, or do we simply need to make it up as we go? The ancient Hebrew writers thought that there is wisdom, and they offered it in what we know as the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. This class will seek to understand the wisdom of this literature by looking especially at the books of Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Job, and Psalms. The class will also explore what the Apostle Paul means when he writes that “Jesus Christ has become for us wisdom from God.” In what ways does Jesus embody Hebrew wisdom, and how is he also “the foolishness of God?” While reading the relevant biblical texts will enrich your experience of this class, the class requires no outside reading. For Students Only Offered weekly on Wednesdays, period five (11:45 – 12:35) Beginning January 19 in the classroom at the Christian Study Center Taught by Dr. Richard V. Horner, Executive Director

Fall 2010 – The Possibility of Meaning in a Culture of Possibilities

We live in a culture of endless possibilities.

Description The University of Florida offers several hundred majors, Burger King continues to let you have it your way, and if your local shopping mall can’t satisfy your shopping addiction, the internet will. “Twenty-four/seven” the web invites you to browse, shop, find a date, have a cheap laugh, plan your future, or wallow in an endless glut of information till your brain goes numb. There are now endless possibilities for fashion, for body modification, for spending money, for cable television channels, for gaming, for YouTube videos, for media devices, for sex, for spiritual exploration, for distraction, and for everything else. How shall we understand this culture of “incessant choosing,” and how shall we live in it? By bringing intellectual history, literature, and social science together with Christian reflection, this class will offer a sympathetic attempt to understand our current cultural setting and to explore the possibility of finding meaning in a culture of possibilities. Offered weekly on Wednesdays, period five (11:45 – 12:35) beginning September 1st in the classroom at the Christian Study Center. Taught by Dr. Richard V. Horner, Executive Director

Spring 2010 – Reading the Gospels, Part Three: The Final Week

Wednesdays, Period 5 (11:45 – 12:35) OR Period 6 (12:50 – 1:40)

Instructor: Dr. Richard Horner, Executive Director, Christian Study Center Description Rooted in a careful reading of the text, this class will keep all four Gospels in view in order to highlight both the challenges and the richness that follow from setting the accounts alongside each other and allowing their different styles, perspectives, and agendas to emerge. Having studied the gospel narrative from Christ’s birth through his approach to Jerusalem in previous classes, in this class we will follow Jesus into Jerusalem for the final week of his life. While there is no required reading for this class, students who read the relevant biblical texts will find the class far more rewarding. These texts include Matthew 21-28; Mark 11-16; Luke 19-24; and John 12-21. Specific assignments are listed below. Whether you read outside or class or not, do bring a Bible to class. Dr. Horner will hold discussion sessions (office hours) on Fridays upstairs in Pascal’s Coffeehouse from 11am to 12:30pm.

Fall 2009 – Genesis Three in Literature and Life

Wednesdays, September 2 – November 18, Period 5 (11:45-12:35) Instructor: Richard Horner, Executive Director, Christian Study Center Description This class will begin with a careful reading of the narrative of the fall in Genesis chapter three and then will explore the way that this narrative and its themes appear in literature and life. We will begin with a look at Ecclesiastes as a Hebrew meditation on the fall, and then we will turn to the New Testament to consider the temptations of Christ and the motif of the first and second Adam in the theology of St. Paul. We will then look at C. S. Lewis’s Perelandra and John Milton’s Paradise Lost, as well as William Blake’s and C. S. Lewis’s interpretations of Paradise Lost. We will conclude with Mary Daly’s reading of Genesis three and with Albert Camus’s novel The Fall. Students are not required to read outside of class but will benefit greatly from doing so. Goerings Bookstore on 2nd Avenue is stocking paperback versions of C. S. Lewis’s Perelandra, John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Albert Camus’s The Fall. Students are encouraged to purchase and read these books. Dr. Horner will hold office hours weekly on Friday mornings from 10:00am – 12:00pm and on Wednesdays immediately after class. Schedule (subject to change) Sept. 2: Semester overview and introduction Sept. 9: Genesis Ch. 3 Sept. 16: Ecclesiastes as a meditation on Life in a fallen world Sept. 23: The temptations of Christ in light of Genesis three Sept. 30: St. Paul’s theology of the first and second Adam Oct. 7: C. S. Lewis, Perelandra [Revised Schedule] Oct. 14: St. Paul’s theology of the first and second Adam Oct. 21: John Milton, Paradise Lost Oct. 28: William Blake and C. S. Lewis interpret Milton Nov. 4: C. S. Lewis, Perelandra Nov. 11: Veteran’s Day (No Class) Nov. 18: Conclusions

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