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RELS 1502 Contemporary Moral Issues

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    Gibbons, BrianGillen, ElizabethA.Alvarez, JohnBallweg, AnthonyC.Sciglitano, CharlesE.Carter, PaulHolmes
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    Always Do the Reading

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    • Profile picture
    May 24, 2016
    | Would highly recommend.

    Not too easy. Not too difficult.

    Course Overview:

    This course gave me a new method of problem-solving and thinking about the world, and I give all of the credit to Father Holmes. I have gone to private Catholic schools since 8th grade, and I find that most teachers in these institutions are some of the most peaceful, kind, individuals you will ever meet, but in my experience they can be a bit close-minded on controversial topics such as abortion, stem-cell research, and the death penalty. Father Holmes set the atmosphere for a judgement-free, open-minded environment. I would definitely recommend taking this course more than just the professor, however! This class was an enlightening experience because it focused on the role of ethics in everyday life, the power of love, and identifying models of justice, virtue, and integrity. At the end of the semester, I found myself feeling a bit sad to see the end of this religion class, because I did not feel like it was overly preachy or religious at all! In fact, it was so focused on helping people to be the best people they can be, and not just according to the standards of the Church.

    Course highlights:

    Every class held a lesson with a story created by Father Holmes, which he illustrated by (attempting) to draw on the board. For example, Professor Holmes used the story of Rhonda and Raul to explain the problem of James Gustafson's moral theology, wherein he said, "virtuous people act virtuously". Rhonda and Raul are both in the military on a mission in Afghanistan. Rhonda, who is portrayed as a stick figure with a funny-looking hat, is standing in the middle of the desert, seemingly alone while the enemy waits for a sign from their commander to shoot. Under the desert sand Rhonda is standing on is her squadron in an underground bunker, including Raul, her fiance, though the rest of the squadron doesn't know it yet. Rhonda was sent up there by her commanding officer. She wasn't told why or for what purpose it would serve but she did it anyway. Professor Holmes then asked the class why we think Rhonda is standing there. Some answers were because she is loving, caring, intelligent, brave...all of which could be true. But someone finally said the right answer, which was that Rhonda is "patriotic", meaning she is standing in the middle of the desert all alone with the enemy watching because of her love and commitment for her country. This class taught us a very important lesson about judging people before knowing them. Just because someone is seemingly exhibiting a virtuous quality does not mean that we necessarily know what their motives are, or even if they are being virtuous at all. Rhonda could have easily been standing in the middle of the desert by herself with the enemy watching because she was actually hoping to die, as she could have been tired of keeping her relationship with Raul a secret from the rest of the squadron. Thus, her patriotism could have easily been cowardice. Father Holmes's solution to this problem is that before you judge someone, not only must you know them, but you must also love them. Even though I disagree with Father Holmes on this point, as I am a bit of a cynic, his lecture was so easy to comprehend (and because it was creatively told, I remember that entire lecture) that I will probably teach this lesson of judging people to my own children someday using Father Holmes' story.

    Hours per week:

    3-5 hours

    Advice for students:

    Father Holmes' lectures are interesting, but you still have to study! I would suggest keeping your notes organized and to simply write down everything he says on the board, even his diagrams. Keep the quizzes he hands back to you, keep up with the readings (as you have to read a book for most of the semester chapter by chapter) and you should be fine. I got an A- :).

    • Spring 2016
    • PaulHolmes
    • Yes
    • Always Do the Reading Great Discussions Final Paper

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