In past years I’ve spent J-term in immersion courses, in Mexico City studying liberation theology and in the Nebraska panhandle studying rural ministry. This January I’m staying closer to home. My classroom is literally across the street from my front door, and rather than bringing a suitcase I pack only my box of art supplies.
The class I’m taking is “Contemporary Issues in Religious Education: God, Faith, and Art” and it’s taught by Elizabeth Caldwell, a professor of Christian education at McCormick Theological Seminary, the Presbyterian seminary that is LSTC’s closest neighbor here in Hyde Park. The aim of the course is to help us use and explore art as a means of teaching and expressing faith, especially as a way of incorporating multiple intelligence theory and moving beyond the “oral-linguistic” methods many of us are used to.
Rather than merely studying theory, however, Professor Caldwell has us diving in and actually doing art… which is fun, but a bit terrifying, too! I’ve spent more time with paint and glue and construction paper in the last three days than I have in the last few years, to be sure.
Our first assignment was to create an “icon” to represent our faith journey. My own icon grew out of several hours spent with Photoshop, and in the end I came up with an icon that was Trinitarian, with the Spirit and the Source surrounding an image of the Way, or the Road. Lining the Road are the saints and sacred places that have been important to me in my faith journey.
Welcome to J-term, where anything can happen – even art!