Wednesday, July 22, 2009

would you like an icon with that?

My semester 2 Laidlaw class – Gospel in post-Christian society – just kicked off. The first day included students picking their icon of choice. Both the iPod and nike went quickly. Other icons that proved popular included Barbie, mobile phone, double helix, Homer, football pitch and google. Icons that missed out included Harry Potter, Buffy, Kate Moss, play station, McDonalds,

Their task is to live with that icon for 2 months. During that time they have to interview 3 people about what this icon means to them and how this icon shapes society (positively and negatively)? In light of the icon and these interviews, students are required to reflect on: (a) In what ways does this icon provide a window into contemporary Western society? and (b) What challenges does this icon present in relation to the Christian gospel?

The task is based on what I have found to be a very helpful diagram in Metavista: Bible, Church and Mission in an Age of Imagination. It portrays cultural hermeneutics as three interlocking circle: cultural icons, societal imagination, the nature and encounter with the gospel. So inviting the students to engage a cultural icon (I used Third Way’s Icon of the month series) is a way of inviting them to consider the underlying narratives forming these icons, and what the gospel might then say in response. I am looking forward to seeing where the journey takes them and the class.

burger.jpg The first time I taught this course back in 2004, I chose the icon. It was a McDonalds hamburger. I brought one as the course commenced. Each week the burger was gently placed on the desk. By the end of 15 weeks, it still looked pretty much the same as that first week. Slightly harder, but so well medicated that it all bugs and bacteria remained firmly at bay.

Posted by steve at 12:30 PM

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