Mark H. Mann
The Christian Tradition and Christian Practices (CHU 395)
In the past I have taught Christian Tradition with an almost complete emphasis on beliefs and historical developments, but rarely emphasized Christian practices. I became convicted that I should make Christian practice a significant and reoccurring theme throughout the semester.
First, I took some of the activities students were already required to do (visiting other churches, adopting a saint whose perspective they would take for some assignments) and reframed them as Christian practice. Students weren’t just visiting a new church, but stepping into the religious life of a particular community and identifying ways that they experienced God’s presence therein. They weren’t just picking a saint to learn about, but venerating one by taking that saint as an example of Christ-like living.
Second, I added new assignments engaging them in practices associated with the variety of traditions they were studying. When studying the monastic movement, I had them undertake a fast of their choosing, while learning about Catholicism they were required to practice the rosary, while investigating Anglicanism they did an exploration into Celtic spiritual practice by taking time to meditate in a quiet place outside while reflecting on God’s presence in Creation. And so on.