Building a World Reading Dead People
Steve Undseth enjoys reading dead people. His new literature course aims to teach students to read. Using multiple genres in teaching literature, Mr. Undseth is excited to present students with writers who both believe in Jesus Christ and those who did not.
The beauty of Mr. Undseth's class is his passion to explore truth with the students. Identifying that truth is knowable, something that is consistent with reality and understandable in academic study, Mr. Undseth is not afraid to explore the inner-workings of good stories to show beauty, truth, and hope. Believe me, Mr. Undseth is going to ask the big questions of where the author finds definition of beauty, truth, and hope as students explore their texts.
One of the texts Mr. Undseth will likely employ, teaching students to read the classics, is Louise Cowan and Os Guinness' Invitation to the Classics. Cowan shares, in the preface to the book, how she walked away from her childhood faith due to a religion class in her undergrad studies. She states that attacks on the historicity of the Scriptures as a primary crack in the foundation of her faith. What she identifies as the key to bringing her back to Christ is a significant surprise.
Ms. Cowan was drawn back to Christ through her teaching of Shakespeare. She could not pass by Shakespeare's recognition of good vs. evil, and the need for a definition of good, and evil without reconciling her own definition. She comments in Invitation to the Classics:
I remember going over the young prince's soliloquies, tracing the movement from his despairing "Oh that this too, too solid flesh would melt" to his meditative "To be or not to be," and on to his affirmative "There's a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will." ...Poetry is language used primarily to express universals; as Aristotle wrote, poetry is truer than history. Cut loose from the sagas of personality and the prescriptions of factuality, poetry can witness to the timeless and immortal. It elevates our consciousness so that we learn how to exercise discernment. As Hamlet declared, "the readiness is all" If we are restored to ourselves and made ready, then we can begin to establish the kingdom of Christ in our own lives and in those we touch.
As Cowan worked to reconcile a world, with no need of a designer, with the order and function of literature, she was drawn to consider the place of the larger metanarratives; namely love, beauty, hope, and truth.
At Hillcrest we strive to teach students the particulars of the world, identifying the form and functions of math, science, art, history, and the like. However, we believe it is imperative to call stuents to understand the universals. Namely, overall purpose, the understanding of hope, and what is truth. This approach not only unites a students' perspective of the world, it enables them to operate with a larger sense of creativity, allowing students to lead a life of eternal significance within God's ultimate plan of reconciliation for the world. Uniting academia, government, society and individual hearts to understand God's love is part of what makes a year at Hillcrest worth so much more than a diploma.