Carson’s American Jesus Winter Term Course 2.0

Hebert Above: Stephen Hebert, St. Mark’s School Religion Instructor and assistant chaplain, served as a guest teacher last year. I am getting ready to teach my Winter Term American Jesus. The course went well last year, thus I suspect it will be even better this year. With new scholarship to add, as well as a greater sense of familiarity with Winter Term, I am aimed at making it an absolute elite course. Here is the course description: The notion of Jesus Christ has been a transformative one throughout history. This course will help students grasp the ubiquitous nature of religion as a force in every day life. Students will explore Americans sense of Jesus Christ through the lens of American traditionalism, popular culture, music, and academic thought. They will delve into issues of race, gender and sexuality, as portrayed on TV shows such as Family Guy, South Park, and Comedy Central’s most recent show, Black Jesus, as a point of conversation regarding societal stereotypes. They will study hip-hop artists, such as the late rapper Tupac Shukar, who identified his rhythmic sounds and lyrics to that of Jesus. Students will also visit spiritual leaders of a variety of churches to learn about the diversity of faiths that are part of the American experience. photoblum Above: Noted American Religion Scholar Edward Blum (center) traveled from his San Diego State University campus to be a guest teacher in my course. Paul Harvey and Blum’s book The Color of Christ was required reading last year; it will remain on the syllabus this year as well as John Fea’s book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? Professor Fea was gracious enough to Skype into my class as a guest speaker. He shared his research and discussed his book with us. John had some great things to say about this experience here at his blog; I also noted his post below: Yesterday we got hit with several inches of snow. School was cancelled for my kids and Messiah College closed its doors at 1pm. Instead of trying to make it into the office I decided to camp out in my basement study and get some work done. Here is what the day looked like: 10:00: Skyped with Eddie Carson’s “Jesus in America” class at the Brooks School in North Andover, Massachusetts. First of all, I am amazed that Eddie gets to teach an entire course on this subject to high school students. Granted, it is a private boarding school, but it is still impressive. I talked about my book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction and the students asked some great questions. We had a good discussion about the racial dimensions of the rise of the Christian Right. Later this week, the ubiquitous Ed Blum will be joining Eddie’s class in person (I hope you are not held up by the snow, Ed) to talk about he and Paul Harvey’s book The Color of Christ.


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