Just around the corner

Letters of Paul MOOC

Photo credit: Markus Stenzel, Pixabay
Photo credit: Markus Stenzel, Pixabay

The last time I posted, one year ago, we were in Arizona on Katherine’s sabbatical. I was entertaining the fantasy that “free time” was just around the corner, but life just never slowed down and a year later, I was still waiting… looking for that corner.

A month or two ago, I learned that Harvard was sponsoring a MOOC –“ massive, open, on-line course” on the subject of “The Letters of Paul.” https://www.edx.org/course/harvardx/harvardx-hds1544-1x-early-christianity-927 Katherine had taken a MOOC while we were in Arizona, and she loved it. Given that she spends a lot of time thinking about on-line education these days, I thought it would be good for me to have some experience of an on-line course myself. “The Letters of Paul” seemed like a great topic. I imagined I would audit, watch others work, and eavesdrop on conversation forums to find out what the hot topics are in Paul studies these days.

Finding the corner
The fantasy that I would audit lasted one day. I tried the first assignments and realized that I was learning things so I was hooked. That long awaited “corner” finally showed up. Good thing, because “The Letters of Paul” required a lot more time that I had thought it would.

The “corner” I had been waiting for showed up: not because life got boring here. Oh no… We’ve had the snow storms everyone else in the northeast has enjoyed, plus a critical electrical circuit blew for some mysterious reason, Katherine and I have had to make a couple trips to Boston, and our well-water got a bug of some kind that required lugging bottled water and well-chlorination (no fun in sub-zero temps.) BUT, the time I wanted was there. All I had to do was get up a little earlier in the morning. Katherine did the rest by not minding that some things that were being put off until “after the MOOC.” (Once in a while, she would tell others her troubles and explain that I was taking a MOOC. “On what?” her colleagues asked. “On Paul,” she replied. To which the response was inevitably: “Paul who?” )

Thank you Katherine for helping me see that the corner I was looking for was right in front of me. And thanks to the folks who designed and ran the MOOC: Prof. Laura Nasrallah and her teaching team of Harvard Divinity School graduate students who ran a magnificent month-long program. The material was presented in such a way that it was absolutely accessible to learners having Bible study backgrounds and no such background, believers and aetheists. According to the Huffington Post, as many as 22,000 originally enrolled. I have no idea how many actually stayed in the course. Perhaps we will see those statistics when the course formally closes on March 5.

Turning the corner
I found and turned the corner I was looking for. I have learned a lot about Paul, and I have learned that sometimes you find the time by making the time. I have two reading projects that rose out of and around the MOOC (slavery in the NT era and the New Perspective on Paul) and I have not given up on the Lectionary Project. I decided to refresh this blog and use it as a way to stay accountable now that I have turned the corner.

One thought on “Just around the corner

  1. So glad to hear from you. All the best with your projects. Let me know when life brings you somewhere near Cambridge. I’d love to catch up.

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