Cultural Literacy for Catholics Course Description and Video

(Literature) Cultural Literacy for Catholics

Total classes: 13
Class dates: Thursdays, Jan. 25 to April 26, 2018.  No class March 29 for Holy Week.
Starting time: 1:00 PM Eastern (Noon Central; 11:00 Mountain; 10:00 Pacific)
Duration: 55 minutes
Prerequisite: None
Suggested grade level: 9th to 12th Grade.
Fee: $175 if you register on or before November 15, 2016. $195 if you register after Nov. 15 for all 13 classes ($215 after Jan. 17).
Instructor: Kevin O’Brien
Course description: What are some of the basic things all educated Catholics should know?  Sadly, most Catholics don’t know them!  From the point of view of Literature and its impact on culture, these things basic “everybody should know this” stuff would include the issues we will examine in each class meeting …

  1. The general scope of the Bible: what sort of books does it include and what’s the overall story it tells?  How does the biblical narrative fit in to the Great Empires of history?
  2. Who is Job and why do people say, “the patience of Job”?
  3. Who is Bathsheba and what happened to David because of her?
  4. Who is St. Paul and why does he writing fill so much of the New Testament?
  5. What is the Allegory of the Cave?
  6. Who were the Church Fathers and why are they so important?
  7. What were the Great Heresies and why should we care?
  8. What is a Troubadour and what do they have to do with St. Francis?
  9. What was the Reformation?
  10. What happens in Hamlet?
  11. Why do people think Descartes and Kant are so important?
  12. What is the Enlightenment?
  13. Where did capitalism, socialism and communism come from?
  14. Who was Mark Twain and why don’t people read him anymore?
  15. What are these famous quotes from great movies or novels that everybody seems to know?
  16. What was Humanae Vitae and why should Catholics know what it teaches?
Course outline (week by week):
  1. Introduction
  2. Philosophy - Touching on Plato and Aristotle
  3. Mythology - Ancient Myths that Still Influence our Culture
  4. Scripture - Old Testament Content that All Catholics Should Know
  5. Scripture - New Testament Content that All Catholics Should Know
  6. The Early Church and the Heresies that All Catholics Should Know
  7. Giants of the Christendom: St. Benedict, St. Francis, St. Thomas Aquinas
  8. But … but … but I hate Shakespeare!
  9. The Reformation and the Enlightenment: the Modern World Begins
  10. The American Experiment and what the Musical Hamilton can Teach Us about Ourselves
  11. Modern Church Controversies, including Humanae Vitae and Why It is Important
  12. Pop Culture: Movies, TV and Music that All People Should Know
  13. Review and Conclusion
Course materials: Cultural Literacy - What Every American Needs to Know by E. D. Hirsch, plus PDF handouts from the Instructor
Homework: Quizzes and Final Exam (graded by the instructor).  Plan on about 2 to 4 hours of homework per week outside of the classroom.