Spring 2019 Courses

Master's CoursesInsights Courses
(14-week semester runs Jan 21-April 21)(4-week sessions, dates given below)
M6350 Paganism and the Law
Instructor: John Halstead, J.D.
Class Meeting: Mondays 8:00 pm EST
First Class: Monday, January 21, 2019
Class Description: The American legal tradition was formed and continues to be shaped by a Judeo-Christian heritage. As a result, the law makes certain assumptions about the relationship between individuals, society and the earth. We will examine both historical and contemporary legal cases through a pagan lens with the goal of challenging some of those assumptions. We will cover the law of personal injury, property, contracts, criminal law, and constitutional law, including how the law impacts Pagan parents, employees, and prisoners. Finally, we will look at recent developments in the law relating to climate change and climate activism.
Required Reading: Capra, Fritjof and Ugo Mattei, The Ecology of Law: Toward a Legal System in Tune with Nature and Community. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2015/
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Session I
Plato & Aristotle: Intro to Virtue Ethics
Jan 27-Feb 23
Instructor: Jeffrey Kupperman
Class Meetings: Thursdays, 8:00 PM ET
Virtue ethics was the dominant source of ethical behavior from antiquity until the Enlightenment. Focusing on Plato and Aristotle, we will explore ethics not as specific ways to act but as ways to be fully oneself and, in doing so, achieve eudaimonia (happiness).
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T6860 Vedic Religion
Instructor: Michael York, Ph.D.
Class Meeting: Sundays 11:00 am EST
First Class: Sunday, January 27, 2019
Class Description: It is clear that in time Vedic religion as it can be discerned in the Rigveda became transformed into a gnostic understanding of reality. This class will focus on Vedism itself, its relation to its linguistic cousins (Hellenism, Zoroastrianism, Heathenism, Roman religion, etc.) and its transformation into Vedanta, Brahminism, and finally, Hinduism. We will examine Vedic religion as an earth-loving and life-affirming Pagan spirituality as well as one that became eclipsed as has much of Paganism elsewhere through concerted attempts to undermine the intrinsic vulnerability of telluric thought – whether because of bids for power and control on the part of a priesthood or through Abrahamic sentiment or both. In short, what is the more original this-worldly understanding and practice of the Vedic peoples before the Hindu reworking that grew out of them? Finally, what is or can be the importance of Vedic nature religion vis-à-vis today’s awareness of nature and contemporary environmentalism?
Required Reading:
Chattopadhya, Debprasad, Lokayata: A Study in Ancient Indian Materialism (New Delhi: People’s Publishing House/Tarun Sengupta, 1959, 3rd ed., 1973).
Macdonell, A.A. Vedic Mythology (Strassburg: De Gruyter, 1989; reprint in 1974 by Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi).
York, Michael. The Divine versus the Asurian: An Interpretation of Indo-European Cult and Myth *Bethesda, MD: Roman & Littlefield, 1995).
Recommended Reading:
Figueira, Dorothy M., Aryans, Jews, Brahmins: Theorizing Authority through Myths of Identity. Allbany: SUNY, 2002
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Session II
Racism in Ásatrú and Heathenry
Instructor: Karl Seigfried
Class Meetings: Mar 3-31 (with two live online meetings on Sunday, March 10 and March 24 at 5:00 PM ET)
Class Description: Racism has been hardwired into American Ásatrú since the beginnings of the new religious movement in the 1970s. From pseudo-scientific claims about religion and genetics, through fear-mongering about Mexican immigrants, to openly partnering with neo-Nazis, Heathenry’s racist right has a well-documented record across five decades. So why does the self-declared “inclusive” wing of Heathenry have such a problematic history of engagement with its overtly racist counterpart? This intensive course will examine the clear evidence of racist positions forwarded within American Heathenry and examine the long history of universalist Heathens partnering with, covering for, and actively promoting racist individuals and organizations. Readings (provided by instructor) will include work by McNallen, Strmiska, Paxson, and Grundy.
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P5102 Introduction to Pastoral Counseling
Instructor: David Oringderff, Ph.D.
Class Meeting: Tuesdays at 8:00 PM ET
First Class: Jan 22
Class Description: pastoral counseling is a unique form of counseling which uses spiritual resources as well as psychological understanding for healing and growth. It is provided by certified pastoral counselors, who are not only mental health professionals but who have also had in-depth religious and/or theological training. Students explore the opportunities and limits of Pagan pastoral counseling, what it is and what it is not, and trace the history of pastoral counseling as distinguished from psychotherapy, pastoral care, chaplaincy and spiritual guidance. Addresses professional issues and develops a Pagan perspective to pastoral counseling.
Required Reading: Townsend, L., Introduction to Pastoral Counseling. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2009.
Harrow, J., Spiritual mentoring: A Pagan Guide. Toronto, Ontario: ECW Press, 2002.
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Session III
Pagan Consent Culture
Mar 24-Apr 20
Instructor: Christine Kraemer, PH.D.
Class Meeting: no live meetings
Class Description: How Druids, Wiccans, Heathens, Polytheists and others understand consent in the context of Pagan traditions. Although many Pagans see the body and sexuality as sacred, Pagan communities still struggle with the reality of assault and abuse. To build consent culture, good consent practices must be embraced by communities, not just by individuals – and consent is about much more than sexuality. Consent culture begins with the idea of autonomy, with recognizing our right to control our bodies in all areas of life; and it is sustained by empathy, the ability to understand and share the emotional states of others.
Required Reading: Pagan Consent Culture edited by Kraemer and Aburrow. Asphodel Press, 2016. (use this link to purchase http://www.paganconsentculture.com/ )
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