About the Course
ABOUT THE COURSE: for Truth seekers aspiring to live passionately, harmoniously, and sustainably within the world-community of otherness. This is the course I would have taken at the very beginning of my academic career had it been available. The academic process leaves one to grapple with the many pieces of a puzzle without THE benefit of a picture on the box. This course is about the big picture that appears when all the pieces ( science, psychology, philosophy, theology, great literature/poetry and etc.,) are harmoniously in place. This is demonstrated utilizing an inverse version of the ocean-of-consciousness metaphor. The mobius strip twist that inversion gives this ancient metaphor puts everything on the same page and provides visual orientation re: the level of discussion taking place from surface to ultimate depth. It proved an invaluable aid while teaching large groups of street people at Interfaith House in Chicago. I still marvel at how such diverse groups of people in those classes were able speak to one another across all the typical divides from racism, sexism, homophobia, and class distinctions, to those of different and passionately held religious beliefs, to those who were totally turned off to even the language of religion. I believe the metaphor was at least partly responsible for that remarkable outcome. The on-line version of this course will begin with a presentation of that metaphor.


The history of this course goes back to 1969. A few weeks after returning from Vietnam I enrolled in a course at Eastern Connecticut State University. I was passionately seeking answers to life questions raised by traumatic experiences (see my chapter of Long Shadows and also war essays), such as the meaning of suffering, the problem of evil, "moral luck", is real peace possible, and so on. Initially I pursued English literature but ended up with a majority of credits in philosophy and very nearly as many in psychology. I went on to graduate studies in philosophy at UW Madison and eventually completed a Master of Divinity degree at Chicago Theological Seminary. Along the way the emphasis shifted from finding answers to asking better questions. Questions, I discovered, are more important than answers, as they determine the scope and quality of any possible set of answers.

The scope of this course is made possible by the many shoulders I stand on. I was educated by distinguished teachers in many fields of study including: Bill Lannon, Susan Riggs, Robert Kaplan, Nancy Salter and Tom Salter in literature; Robert Moore, Leo Sneiderman, and Lee Butler in psychology; Ted Jennings, Andre LaCoque, Dow Edgerton, Susan Thistlethwaite, Joanne Terrell and Ken Stone in theology; Ivan Sol, Jon Moline, Terry Penner, and Robert Ammerman in philosophy. And the following, at some critical junctures when it mattered most, were not only my teachers but mentors as well: Max Hughey, Jr., Robert Browne, Huston Smith, Maurice Friedman, Robert Freehling, and Claudia Card. Over time the scholarship and humanity they shared or continue to share have become part of the warp and woof of my own thinking and being. A special order of credit and gratitude is due to Josie Pradella. She has been a guiding force through the good times and the bad. Her unfailing support and amazingly creative ideas have made all of this possible.

Authors not listed above whose writings and poetry contribute significantly to the course include: Phyllis Trible, Emily Dickinson, Helen Caldicott, Elizebeth Drew, Tolstoy, Dostoevski, Gandhi, Thomas berry, Wendell berry, Black Elk, Ernest Becker,William Blake, Walter Stace, James Bradley, Martin Buber, Albert Camus, Sartre, Simone De Beauvoir, Herman Daly, John Cobb Jr., Walter Wink, Ann Douglas, Meister Eckhart, David Ehrenfeld, Mercea Eliade, T. S. Eliot, Ralph Ellison, Erik Erickson, Freud, Jung, Eric Fromm, Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, Sam Keen, Emanuel Levinas, Primo Levi, Victor Frankl, Peter Levine, Coleman McCarthy, Coleman Barks, Rumi, Rilke, Dante, Cervantes, David Riesman, Brian Swimme, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Saint Paul, Thomas Gilbert and other distinguished scientists from "Epics", Johnathan Kozol, Eckhart Tolle, Claude Anshin Thomas, Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, M. L. King Jr., Ken Wilber, Andrew Harvey, Marion Woodman, Nancy Ryley, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Kafka, Heidegger, Plato, Spinoza, Wittgenstein, Whitehead, William Barrett, Joseph Campbell, Paul Tillich, John Shelby Spong, Rollo May, Frijof Capra, Eric Neumann, Rosemary Radford-Reuther, Johnathan Schell, Hannah Arendt, David Abram, Steven Mitchell, Robert J. Lifton, Bruce H. Lipton, Rupert Sheldrake, - to be continued.