Monday, May 18, 2009

The Problem of Evil


As indicated in your textbook in its discussion on the Book of Job, "the dilemma of why the good suffer and the wicked prosper in this life is known as the problem of evil" (Newland 249). However, the problem is not so simple as to say that only one side perishes while the other thrives. Ultimately, we all experience suffering in some way, often in what seem unjust or undeserved circumstances. It is this kind of suffering--the stuff that seems unfair--that defines the "problem of evil" and which the author, Jay Sklar, of the article ("Why Does God Permit Evil?") I gave you addresses in his essay.

In a well-developed essay of at least three, full paragraphs, give a summary of the article, including the author's name and the title of the article in quotations in the introduction of your essay.

Then give a well-argued and reasoned response to the article, including any agreements and/or disagreements you have. If you recognize any seeming inconsistencies in the author's argument, please state them.

Your concluding paragraph should be a reflection on your own sense of what purpose suffering gives us in our lives.

This is due, Wednesday, May 20, 2009 on the blog or typed hard copy under the following heading:

Your Name
Bro. Rob Peach, FSC
Rel 011.04
May 20, 2009

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Into the Film: A Review of Penn's Adaptation


In a well-crafted essay of at least five, well-developed paragraphs, please give your reaction to Sean Penn's film adaptation of Into the Wild, basing your essay off of the following five questions:

1. First of all, what was your overall reaction to the film? Explain in detail.

2. Interpret various images or themes as presented in the film.

3. What are three lessons you learned by watching the film? Explain in detail.

4. To what biblical themes that we've discussed in class does the film relate?

5. How is Alexander Supertramp's journey a spiritual one? Be detailed in your response. If a specific Old Testament biblical passage comes to mind, please reference the passage by indicating the book, the chapter, and the verse numbers. (Think prophets of Israel: How is Chris "Alex Supertramp" McCandless like one of the prophets? Explain.)

This assignment is Due: Tuesday, May 5 by class time.

It must be typed or submitted to the blog.

Your heading should be as follows:

Your Name
Bro. Rob Peach, FSC
REL 011.04
May 5, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Into and Out of the Wild: Ch. 16-17


As we come closer to the concluding pages of the story about one man's journey into the wilderness to not only find, but create himself, I would like you to write an at least three paragraph reflection on what you believe is the most important lesson to learn from his story.

Please use chapters 16 and 17 as reference points, enlightening your classmates as to what you think are the major insights to be gained from the final chapters of this powerful story.

What are some themes, symbols, images, metaphors and other other literary techniques that people should be aware of in understanding the deeper meaning of the text.

Have at it, and be sure to quote from the text, using the proper format for quotations such as follows:

Krakauer writes, "..." (#).
For instance, "..." (Krakauer #).
According to Krakauer, "..." (#).

This reflection is DUE WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22, 2009 by class-time on blog or typed, hard copy. It will be worth 10 points, so put the proper intellectual effort into this.

Brother Supertramp, FSC

p.s. don't forget to head your entries with the following:

Your Name
Bro. Rob Peach, FSC
Rel 011.04
April 22, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Exploring Chapters 10-12


You created the questions and so you answer ONE of the following in a WELL-DEVELOPED paragraph (or two or three) that quote(s) from the text for support (for formatting guidelines see earlier posts where I explain it.)

Please indicate which question you are answering by retyping it above your answer.

This blog response is Due Wednesday, April 15, 2009 by class-time on blog (or typed, hard copy if you cannot log-in).

Please follow proper heading format:

Your Name
Bro. Rob Peach, FSC
Rel 011.04
April 15, 2009

The questions:

  • How did Westerberg prove to the Alaska State Troopers that he knew McCandless? Why?
  • Why did McCandless show sympathy for the homeless? What is an example of such sympathy?
  • Why was it that McCandless seldom contacted his parents? What did they think?
  • Why did the cop get so many calls from people claiming to know Chris?
  • How did Chris approach any task given to him? Give examples.
  • Why did Chris become less and less talkative and friendly with his parents? How did he express his feelings?
  • Sam, Chris' half brother had to tell his father and stepmother about Chris' death. How do you think he broke the news to them?
  • How may have Chris' relationship with his father triggered his radical change in lifestyle after college?
  • On page 121, Krakauer tells of the secrets of Walt's divorce and remarraige. How did this new information affect Chris? Could this have influenced his later disappearence and death?
  • How did McCandless' friends react to hearing of his death? Why did the react this way?
  • How may have McCandless' childhood experiences have influenced him to leave his home and family?
  • Why do you think McCandless strayed away from the social world and put a heavy emphasis on academics at college, but then run away shortly after graduation?
  • What were some odd charactersitics of Christ at young age? Why were they odd?
  • Explain Chris' political views and how they were reflected in his trip.
  • Why did the troopers give Gallien a chance to plead his case, but not Westerberg?
  • If Chris seemed so preoccupied with making money in high school, why did he eventually give all his money away? What caused this change of heart?
  • Why, all of a sudden, did Christ seem to despise his parents?
  • What is the significance of Billie McCandless' dream about Chris? What does it say about her relationship with him?
  • Why do you think Chris never told his family about wanting to go on an adventure?
  • Why did Chris leave South Dakota so abruptly?
  • Why was everyone so moved by Chris' speech on Walt's birthday? Why did they then let him leave?
  • Which was it, his virtues or his falws that may have ultimately lead Chris into the wild?
  • How are people's reactions to Chris's death unique due to the awakwardness of all his relationships?
  • Why do you think chapter 12 focuses so strongly on his faults? What are they?
  • How does the epigraph on page 103 tie into the story about McCandless?
  • Do you think Chris ever thinks about what he leaves behind everytime he moves to a new territory? Explain.
  • What do you think the deeper meaning of chapter 11 is? Explain.
  • Does Chris possess any of the same charactersitics as he did when a child? Are they negative or positive characteristics? Explain.
  • Why do you tink Chris can so easily isolate himself from and socialize with others?
  • Do you think the intro to chapter 10 is an accurate description of what the official found, or did they recognize that there was more to the situation than what they saw?
  • Does Walt McCandless share any characteristics with Chris? Explain.
  • What aspects of Chris' personality baffled his parents? Why were they baffled by these aspects of his personality?
  • Why do you think Alex faked his first tax form but made the second one real before he went to Alaska? Was he foreshadowing his own death?
  • When Alex makes a drunken speech to his dad, he puts aside all of the differences. Does this show that deep down Chris still had feelings for him and wanted to be a family? How does this contradict other experiences between the two? Is there anything in particularly that sparked their feud? Explain.
  • What in chapter ten reveals the importance of making friends and of socializing?
  • What changed about the McCandless family after Chris died?

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Journey Continues: Ch. 4-9


As with I, John Baptist De La Salle, it is up to you to find your own meanings in reading the text. The only way for a story to become relevant, after all, is for you to fully invest yourself into it as if you were an archeologist trying to uncover some long buried secret about existence.

Anyhow, you create the questions and so you answer ONE of the following in a WELL-DEVELOPED paragraph (or two or three) that quote(s) from the text for support (for formatting guidelines see earlier posts where I explain it.) Your questions should focus on discovering and explaining the literary techniques we discussed in class earlier this week as they are revealed in one of the chapters between four and nine.

This blog response is Due Wednesday, April 8, 2009 by class-time on blog (or typed, hard copy if you cannot log-in).

Please follow proper heading format:

Your Name
Bro. Rob Peach, FSC
Rel 011.04
April 8, 2009

The questions:

  • What characteristics does Christopher McCandless share with other famous explorers as told to us in chapters eight and nine?

  • On page 71 of chapter eight, many harsh criticisms are written of McCandless' story. Symbolically, what is this similar to in peoples' faith experiences?

  • Why do you think that McCandless keeps moving around, not staying in one place for a very long time? What does this suggest about his spirit?

  • In chapter eight, Krakauer discusses the philosophies of Rosselini and Wateman. Why does he do this? How do these stories help characterize McCandless?

  • Why do you think Christopher refers to himself in third person when he writes in his journal? (see chapter four)

  • In chapter four, what do you think the epigraph suggests about the upcoming events? Be sure to refer to the events that are described in detail in the chapter, summarizing and explaining them as they apply to the epigraph.

  • Why, if McCandless is trying to find spiritual importance in nature, would he make his final trip into the wilderness one that takes place in Alaska (considering its harshness)? (see chapter seven)

  • In chapter seven there is a lot of detail about the people he meets in Carthage. How do the relationships he builds on this trip effect him?

  • What did McCandless tell Franz to do with his life when he left Franz's house? Why did he tell him this? How can this apply to your life? (see chapter six)

  • How would you characterize McCandless' actions when he gives his money to charity and burns all of his money? What kind of statement is he making? Explain.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Enter the Wild: Author's Note, Chapters 1 -3


In the opening pages of Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer's account of the journey undertaken by Christopher "Alexander Supertramp" McCandless, we are introduced to a young man who is in search of truth and beauty--something that he beleives can only be found in the unfettered existence and pure wilderness of the American frontier. At the end of chapter three, Krakauer does well to sum up the philosophy that inspired McCandless' break from the constraints of the "civilized world":

[...]The trip was to be an odyssey in the fullest sense of the word, an epic journey that would change everything. He had spent the previous four years, as he saw it, preparing to fulfill an absurd and onerous duty: to graduate from college. At long last he was unencumbered, emancipated from the stifling world of his parents and peers, a world of abstraction and security and material excess, a world in which he felt grievously cut off from the raw throb of existence.

Driving west out of Atlanta, he intended to invent an utterly new life for himself, one in which he would be free to wallow in unfiltered experience. To symbolize the complete severance from his previous life, he even adopted a new name. No longer would he answer to Chris McCandless; he was now Alexander Supertramp, master of his own destiny. (22-23)

In this way, McCandless voiced his protest against what he saw were the excesses of modern society, bound by an irrational reliance on money and business and industry and war and politics. Only when man ventured into the unknown, free of the illusions created by false ideals of fulfillment could he truly discover the human spirit, the God in everything.

That said, I would like you to, in a well-developed paragraph, share your initial thoughts upon reading the opening chapters of Into the Wild. Please be sure to quote the text as a way to illustrate any points you make in reference to the story. The format for doing is would be as follows: Krakauer writes, "...." (#).

This blog response is due by classtime, Wednesday, April 1, 2009.

Remember to place a heading at the top of your response:

Your Name
Bro. Rob Peach, FSC
Rel 011.04
April 1, 2009

In the meantime, please continue reading through chapter seven.

Brother Supertramp, FSC

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Finishing Up: The Growing Years and Onward...

Ok Bros:

You made up the questions, now you answer them.

Please be sure to quote from the text for back-up. Remember that the format for quoting goes like this:

Leo Kirby, FSC, speaking in the voice of De La Salle writes, "Bro. Peach, FSC schooled Juwan Haynes in the freestyle rap battle this past Friday" (45).

Notice that the period goes after the parenthesis, which encloses the page number from which you pulled the quote.

You must answer in depth three (3) of the following questions. Pleas re-write the question and place your answer below.

Please be sure to indicate at the top of the page:

Your Name
Bro. Rob Peach, FSC
Rel 011.04
March 24, 2009

Your blog response is due Tuesday, March 24, 2009, by class time.

God be blessed,
Bro. Peach, FSC

The Questions:

  • What is the legacy of De La Salle?
  • What were some of the problems from society he delt with on behalf of the Brothers? How did he deal with them?
  • How did De La Salle revolutionize, or change, the education system?
  • Why did De La Sale want the Brothers located in teh city?
  • How were the Brothers' schools different from the others in France at the time?
  • What aspects of the city, or city life, convinced De La Salle to put schools in Rheims?
  • What qualities attracted other people to De La Salle as a person?
  • How did De La Salle handle his health problems? How did his suffering help, or influence, his ministry to the poor and to the other Brothers?
  • Why do you tink other schools frowned upon De La Salle's schools for not teaching Latin?
  • What is the biggest difference between the beginning and end of De La Salle's life?
  • What was De La Salle's philosophy, or outlook, on life?

Friday, March 13, 2009

I, John Baptist de La Salle: The Seed Years


In Chapter Two of I, John Baptist de La Salle, entitled, "The Seed Years," we are given an account of de La Salle's radical sacrifice in which he gave up everything for the sake of educating the poor of France. Acting as St. La Salle, Bro. Leo Kirby, FSC, writes, "I gave up my salaried position to a poor pirest, and I gave away my money to feed teh hungry. From that time on, I got much closer to the children they taught. I could now truthfully say, 'We Brothers'" (25). Here, we get a sense of how important self-sacrifice is in the life of a Christian. Only when one "takes up his cross"--or dedicates himself to a cause greater than himself--can he truly begin to experience God's kingdom of love on earth.

That said, I would like you to discuss one theme (a unifying idea or subject of a given text) portrayed in "The Seed Years". Support your discussion with back-up from the text; use quotes and format them properly (as modeled for you above)! Notice above how I discuss the theme of self-sacrifice as being an important part of the Christian's call to duty and relate it to De La Salle's life using a quote from the chapter.

Please be thorough and thoughtful in your response. This blog should be at least one paragraph in length, but may very well exceed that length, especially if you get involved in your discussion of the theme you choose. Always ask yourself "how" and "why" when discussing the points you make about a particular theme. When you insert quotes, you must interpret what the author means by them.

This is due Tuesday, March 17, 2009 by class-time.

Brother Rob Peach, FSC

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Meeting a Saint: I, John Baptist de La Salle


In Chapter One of I, John Baptist de La Salle, entitled, "Roots and Wings," the author speaks in the perspective of De La Salle, telling us of his upbringing and the initial spark that led De La Salle from the "clerical" duties of the priesthood to the founding of something that he "wouldn't have touched the project with the tips of [his] fingers" if he knew where it would lead him (Kirby 21).

In a well-developed paragraph, due by classtime on Friday, March 13, I would like you to give a personal response to the beginnings of De La Salle's story. Questions to consider:
  • What are some observations about his early life that strike you as interesting or odd?
  • What defines "vocation" according to what you read of De La Salle's early life?
  • How does De La Salle experience God in his life according to the voice of Brother Leo Kirby, FSC, who wrote the essay in the persona of De La Salle?
  • How does De La Salle's early life and call to the priesthood and later to the mission asked of him by Adrien Nyel parallel an Old Testament story of God's call to a prophet? (be specific)
  • Why is De La Salle relevant to your own life today? From the little you've read, what about his life could you make relevant to your own?
  • What was the role of suffering in shaping De La Salle's knowledge of and approach to everyday life?

If you should at all refer to something in the text, please format as follows: Speaking as the person of De La Salle, Bro. Leo Kirby, FSC, writes, "Adrien Nyel, who later became a good friend of mine, was by experince and nature an originator of projects. I guess he was the spark; I was the bush he set afire. Together, I think, we made a pretty good team" (Kirby 21).

The above quote is placed in quotation marks with an introductory phrase (Bro. Leo Kirby, FSC, writes...) and is cited with the last name of the author and the page number from which you took the author's quote in parantheses, followed by a period.

In order to respond on this blog, you will click the header, Meeting a Saint: I, John Baptist de La Salle, "post comment" link at the bottom of this prompt. You will then type your response with a heading that is formatted as follows:

Your Name

Bro. Rob Peach, FSC

Rel 011.04

March 13, 2009