Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Literature of Journey and Quest

Everyone needs a good stretch mentally and this second course is certainly going to provide me with that opportunity. We will explore the themes of journey in world literature with particular attention to the religious dimensions of those themes.  We will consider the relationship between interior journeys and journeys through external landscapes, between home and exile between it welder meant uncertainty and between the religious and literary dimensions of literature itself.

We spent a good deal of time today discussing what is a religion and looked at a dozen quotes from philosophers and theologians. What does religion mean to you? I'd like to know your idea. Even Virginia Woolf who was agnostic had a form of religion that guided her morality.

An anthropologist Arthur van Gennep studied hundreds of people who were on a quest or journey. He summed up his findings with these three commonalities: 

1) separation - we all have to depart, be a stranger, feel alienation
2) luminal stage - we have one foot in the former paradigm and the other exploring the new
3) re aggregation - where we are in a new state, and it's hard to go home.  

We spent fifteen minutes rush writing about our own journeys and then a few read. 

I am again in a wonderfully diverse class. Here's my take: 

Pregnant chaplain - Harvard Divinity School master's candidate

German pastor - from Switzerland and who left her medical practise to work on souls

Harvard Student # 1 - General education requirement just returned from Iraq where he shadowed a doctor for a month. He was appalled to see the dozens of young women with internal bleeding from being rated or involved in human trafficking by ISIS

Little Korean from Canada - a senior in high school who has not lived at home with her family since she was a child

Alien - a visiting college student whose father was a diplomat. He's been uprooted his entire life. Even when he is "home", he is a stranger. 

Outback Senior - a travel correspondent from Australia. He's in his 90s and here living his dream. 

Harvard Student #2  - general education requirement  who studies human evolution biology. 

Faculty Assistant - piano performance undergraduate who explored music therapy in a master's program but abandoned it to seek now a new path that will be more fulfilling. She accompanies a ballet school. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love hearing about the diversity in your class. Makes you wonder how each of your path's led to now. I am excited at the many gems you will take away from this experience! -nicole