This week at the bookshop my libertarian friend asked me if I’d read The Chrysalids. I told my friend that I’d read it and indeed it is on a reading list for a course I’m teaching (which is the reason it is in stock in the bookshop). He was astonished that I should include literature as part of a seminary course. I know others who do this as well. The Chrysalids, The Red Tent, The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Year of the Flood are all optional reading for the course I am presently teaching. People can choose to do a final paper on one of these novels and the Old Testament.
I first assigned (science) fiction when teaching high school physics. I’m not sure where I got the idea from. I further caught the vision for using fiction in more than just English Literature classes from reading The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination (by Robert Coles) during seminary. I think I was drawn to the book partially because I had already tried something like it and was looking for more information about doing it well. Now I think about how I might use a novel to teach any number of courses in the theological disciplines.
I’ve just finished listening to The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. It has great potential for a course on spirituality. I dream of using The Children of Men by P.D. James as a pre-reading requirement in a children’s ministry course, though perhaps it could and should be used in any pastoral ministry course.
What do you think? Do you know any novels that could be used to teach theology?