Panentheism, Dead Prez, Religious Epistemology, and Wilkie Collins

Sporting such an untypically verbose title, you probably think this post is going to be a doozy, another long-winded and rambling entry in which I bore you to tears.

Fear not. I have no time for such nonsense at present. I’m in the midst of one the busiest semesters I’ve had to endure since I went back to school several years ago. I typically take two classes, and do my best to mix them up so that my workload is manageable. This Spring I am taking three classes, one at the graduate level, and amidst the chaos of trying to find a job, I’m reading and researching and writing more than I have in years. Here are just a few of the papers currently in development . . .

For my Theories of Religion class, I am researching Panentheism, what philosopher and theologian John W. Cooper calls The Other God of the Philosophers. In addition to giving a detailed history – no easy task as panentheistic thought goes back at least to Plato – I am digging a bit deeper into the nuances presented in the systematic theology of Paul Tillich. I’ll wrap it up by distilling the thoughts of such modern panentheists as Philip Clayton and Marcus Borg.

For my Religion & Popular Culture class, the subject is hip hop duo Dead Prez. Again there is a necessary section about their history, but the bulk up the paper is a careful analysis of the spiritual sensibilities of their lyrics. Since starting this class I’ve exposed myself to many interesting hip hop artists, but none seem to be tapping into the heart of the genre like Dead Prez. One revealing source is an interview presented by M. K. Asante Jr. in his book
It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop

In addition to the normal reading and essays in my Theory of Knowledge class, I am also writing a paper comparing two arguments about what we can know about God. One is a skeptical view presented by J. L. Schellenberg in his book Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason, while the other is an argument in support of a rational belief in God (“even if God doesn’t actually exist”) put forward by Paul K Moser in The Elusive God: Reorienting Religious Epistemology. This is going to be the toughest nut to crack in terms of researching and writing. An alternative subject, percolating in the back of my mind, is a similar examination based on a published debate about the Knowledge of God between Alvin Plantinga and Michael Tooley. No less dense, but presented in a format that makes comparison and contrast a bit more manageable. We’ll see . . .

These are just the papers! There is also a copious amount of assigned readings for each class, plus quizzes and other short-form writing assignments. You’d think I’d be working on this stuff with every available minute. But . . .

That damned Wilkie Collins! Or rather the Wilkie Collins personified in Dan Simmons’ latest novel Drood. I picked this up on a whim a couple of weeks ago, and it has sucked me in like few books in recent memory. I love to read a good piece of historical fiction on occasion, and this one has everything an English major could love. I would go into them, but I need to curl up in my reading chair and get this thing done. I’m just over halfway through and it’s starting to get very interesting . . .


12 thoughts on “Panentheism, Dead Prez, Religious Epistemology, and Wilkie Collins

  1. I’m exhausted just reading about all the learning you’re about to do. Hopefully you’ll share the highlights with us via your blog.

  2. These are undergrad classes? Wow. That is a tough load.

  3. Sometimes you make my head hurt. Too much thinking.

  4. Man, I’d go lose myself in a good book, too, it that was my load. Good luck with all of that!

  5. This is the second reference to pop music in a university class I’ve seen today. I clearly went to school too early.

  6. Speaking of nuts to crack…we were weren’t we? That photo?
    I thought at first it was one of the philosophers you were reading since truly don’t all philosophers look like that at some point in their life before they explode?

    Alas, it’s Mr. Wilkie.

  7. Don’t let him fool you. Unless you’re studying medicine, the higher you go in academia the easier the shit gets…considering you can come up with an original thought, write a complete sentence, and lecture in front of your peers. Philosophy is also a hustle;)

  8. Listen, I feel your pain. I’m only taking two classes, but they are grad classes, so the work load is killing me. When I finish the semester, I’ll be relieved and amazed and maybe a little proud. You will, too. Great work! Focus!

    Peace – D

  9. BJ, There is no doubt that you will climb the mountain of this semester. You have the mind and wrting ability to overcome. I’ve never known a time or place that you couldn’t come out on top. We’re praying for you .
    Dad and Mom

  10. ouch. just ouch…. man, that’s a heavy courseload. it’s not like you have a ‘basketweaving’ relief class in the bunch. break a leg!

  11. I have a Wilkie Collins book here, but I’ve never read it. Perhaps that will be my task this afternoon….

    That, and Google Dead Prez.

  12. That is an insane amount of writing.

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