Life, love, loss, death, hope—the common coin of human experience.   Spring Hedgerow features Gnostic scholar Elaine Pagels as she reflectively traces her own spiritual journey in her memoir Why Religion?.

Lent features Elizabeth Johnson’s creative dialogue with the satisfaction theology of Anselm—that Jesus had to die for our sins. In 1098, theologian Anselm wrote a treatise that claimed it was necessary for God to become a human being and die in order to save the human race from our sins.  This satisfaction theory that Jesus’ death paid back what was due to God grew out of the feudal culture of the time, and for the next millennium in the West put the emphasis on sin and the cross rather than Jesus’ resurrection.

Elaine Pagels struggles through loss as a parent, spouse, scholar, friend, and ever-curious seeker for healing and hope.  Why do we need religion?  How do spiritual traditions sustain us—our rituals and prayers, our contemplative practices and generous actions for the good of others?  Who sustains us, especially in pain, crisis, and loss—family, friends, spouses, communities of faith, Jesus, God?

Celebrate Lent and all creation with fresh Easter theology.  What do we make of Jesus’ death today?  For nearly a thousand years Anselm of Canterbury (A.D. 1033-1109) has shaped the Western Church’s idea of God and the cross of Jesus, making God an abusive father who sends his son to die for our sins.  Johnson’s book journeys from Anselm’s feudal interpretation into the life of Jesus’ resurrection in cosmic context.  By Easter, participants may be a new kind of Christian.

Instructors: Joan Mitchell, CSJ, PhD; Andrea Pearson Tande, MA; Colleen Carpenter, PhD; Nancy Victorin-Vangerud, PhD; Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, PhD, via Zoom Session.

January 24th, 2020