The power of a syllabus

A faint memory came back to me this morning. I was searching for comments on Samuel Well’s book, Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics (Brazos, 2004), and came across a syllabus for an ethics class taught by Dennis L. Durst, M.Div., Ph.D at Kentucky Christian University. This is a fine syllabus, and I remember receiving these in seminary (Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis) and how it would set me on a course of discovery.

I’m reliving this morning those moments of quiet reflection and those bursts of amazement that I couldn’t wait to share with my fellow students on that lonely two-hour road between Searcy and Memphis. I’d always try to get those books on the syllabus from a used book store and sometimes could but most times couldn’t. Each book led me to another and a well-chosen paper topic–which I found out the hard way is best chosen with the teacher’s blessing and direction in a planned office appointment early on . . . I used to consider this goofy apple polishing but after a C and a D on a paper thought perhaps I’d better learn the difference between shining apples and humbling myself before a person who was the best person in the world right then to direct my studies.

So, with that little memory, I want to share this link with you. May it create in you the same effect that syllabi (that’s a geeky correct grad school way of saying syllabuses) had on me in grad school . . . like a ticket to a passage way into a whole new world, one book and idea deserving and craving and leading to another . . . and ultimately and intentionally closer to God and shaped by His word and into His image.

Dr. Durst’s syllabus

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

4 comments on “The power of a syllabus

  1. “5) Be able to appreciate the role of ethical exemplars in shaping the moral imagination, and the role of improvisation in the drama of Christian ethics, evaluated through small group discussions and a film analysis.”

    The drama of Christian ethics — heh. No joke there.


  2. When I was in grad school I had a manilla folder for every class syllabus and notes from that class. On the front I would write down every last book the professor even MENTIONED in class. If he or she didn’t know the author or remember the title completely, I would find out within an hour after class. Then, I’d make sure the book was in my library, read as well (of course). I would also keep every syllabus and take notes as if I were going to teach the class myself someday. I am SUCH a geek.

    I wonder if that’s ethical….hmmmmm


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