I have not said much about my move to the Brooks School, but that is coming. I wanted to share a course I am organizing to teach as part of the school’s winter term period. It will be a one month in-depth elective course entitled, American Jesus. It is still rough; and in truth, I do not know if I will be teaching it or not. I am still in transition. According to my department chair and the academic dean, I will teach two sections of Modern World History, a section of AP World History, and a section of AP US History. I am a few years removed from teaching a world course, but I am looking forward to reuniting with my syllabus for this course. In truth, it should be a pretty smooth transition here. I will teach a grand total of 40 students throughout these 4 sections.
For many of you who follow my blog, you are pretty much aware of my research and academic writings. Thus, a course that allows students to delve into topics about race, religion, gender, and popular culture seems about normal. Students will find it challenging yet very interesting as we discuss what I call the Jesus question. I recently submitted an essay entitled the Resurrection which juxtaposes race, gangs, and artist such as Tupac to Jesus Christ. I argued a bit of a historical lens linking black suffering under the auspices of slavery and Jim Crow to the modern-day black plight in my essay. It is set to be published this fall. This course on American Jesus looks at the historical, but it is also anthropological and far broader than on matters of race.
The notion of Jesus Christ has been a transformative one over the course of history. This course looks to explore Americans sense of Jesus Christ as promulgated through the lens of American traditionalism, popular culture, music, and academic focus. TV shows such as Family Guy, South Park, and other documentaries aim to encapsulate various views of what Jesus looks like, and who he is to many people. The course will not only explore such TV shows as noted in the aforementioned, but it will also delve into the complexity of race, gender, and sexuality. Moreover, students will examine Americans fascinations with hip-hop artist, such as the late rapper Tupac Shukar who too identified his rhythmic sounds and lyrics to that of Jesus. Artist, such as Tupac, inculcated a sense of lyrical spirit as a representation of black urban suffering. Furthermore, this course will delve into the literature of American religious historians Edward Blum and Paul Harvey whose work, The Color Christ asks the question: How can the Son of God be both a representative of white supremacy and that of racial reconciliation by the 1960s? Students will have the opportunity to read this work as well as Steven Prothero’s American Jesus. Time will also be spent discussing the religious pursuits of popular figures such as Kenye West, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Billy Graham, as well as Presidents such as George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama’s sense of American politics and religiosity. Students will enjoy the viewing and analysis of documentaries that question the reality of Jesus Christ.