Phew. Today, I experienced the most typical Jesuit style of exam that exists. Fr. Brooks (who is Holy Cross embodied in a person) teaches my Contemporary Christology course – this course has been extremely popular with students since at least the 1980’s. It’s a hallmark of the Holy Cross Religious Studies department. Fr. Brooks constructs the class so that each student will research one contemporary theologian for an entire semester. It’s all independent work, and the weekly class meeting usually covers a general theme of Christology – suffering, the Incarnation, Jesus’ consciousness, etc. There’s no written work, and there’s no assessment prior to our exam. Our grade rests all on our final, which is a two hour examination by three to five outside professors. You are expected to know your theologian well enough that if they ask any question, you should be able to respond, “Well, my theologian would respond in such a way.” It’s a terrifying thought, really. On top of that, I researched Karl Rahner, who is a particular favorite of Fr. Brooks’. Yikes!
So 3:30 came around, and the five of us entered the examination room. As the professors fired away and made us syncretize what our theologians were saying, all five of us started to get into a rhythm. We started defending our various positions and engaged each other in debates (all in good nature, I assure you!). It was fantastic and probably one of the best experiences in my time at Holy Cross. Afterwards, Fr. Brooks treated us to an extremely nice dinner in Hogan where the debates continued – talk about a dinner table conversation! At the end, Fr. Brooks closed with the quote with which he always closed class – “Keep reading.”
This exam was, I think, one of the most enriching experiences that I’ve had at Holy Cross. It wasn’t your typical exam at all. Instead of having to know the right answer immediately, we were all allowed to think through our answers and reflect for a bit. It truly was an event in which we could articulate all that we had learned for the past semester instead of trying to cram it into one blue book. Was it intimidating that there were three other professors who were firing questions at me? Yes. But did I love it? Yes. I constantly had to think about and defend Rahner, and it made me realize exactly how much I have learned over the past semester. So, to any prospective students (or even current students at Holy Cross): enroll in Contemporary Christology. It is the best course that you will take at Holy Cross.
And now I’m off to study for Shakespeare and write my Apocalypticism paper. But I will be home in less than two weeks!<< Older Entries