"What does it feel like to be a problem?” For the first time in college, a line from a book rang in my head for days. W. E. B. Du Bois’s realization of his racial reality and the question of how he would choose to exist in the face of this new knowledge struck me as a deeply theological question.
For 20 years I taught James Joyce’s Ulysses every year, but I don’t get to anymore—new university, new job description. I miss it terribly, even though my opinion of its quality wavered from semester to semester.
As I was in the midst of teaching the ancient Roman Stoic Epictetus at Oakdale Prison, an inmate stood up and launched into an argument that Stoicism is a loser’s philosophy. I challenged him: “What does it mean to be a loser? Was Jesus on the cross a loser?
The Damnation of Theron Ware, by Harold Frederic (1896), is the fictional tale of a sheltered Methodist minister who is suddenly bombarded with new theories of biblical criticism, exposure to Irish Catholic practices, and the allure of emerging ideals of the “modern woman”—all of which shake his religious foundation.