I'm working on a website map for the site that I think captures my vision for this project. It's based on the framework that has emerged so far. I envision the map being interactive and responsive, with the main categories organized within it and leading to the content in each section and subsection of the project.
Although the order set in the curriculum is recommended, especially when going through the whole, this map will facilitate access to all areas of the project so users can go through the curriculum in any order they prefer.
The mountain Here's what that map looks like. Imagine a mountain with a city to the left and a city to the right. The city to the left is in ruins. The city to the right is under construction, but you can tell it's already full of potential and full of life. The mountain signifies the journey from one city to the other.
On that journey, we explore major aspects of life through interdisciplinary modules and discussions. All discussions include resources to dig deeper into details as needed. Keeping many of the details optional (in "Going Deeper" sections at the end of each entry) helps keep discussions meaningful, engaging, and relatively brief. Now let me tell you about the content of the project and the framework that's emerging.
A relational framework I'm dividing reality into three main levels or domains, reflecting major sets of relationships inherent to our being in the world. Life in our Skin is the existential or personal domain (our relationship to ourselves). The modules in this part of the curriculum are interdisciplinary explorations of human nature (physiology, sex, health and fitness, behavior and motivations, language ability and creativity, mortality and spirituality), of personhood (identity formation, gender, self-transcendence, sense of others), and human being (agency, freedom and responsibility, vocation, reality construction). The Journey actually begins here, with the existential domain.
Life on the Ground covers our relationships to others and to nature. This is one of the largest parts of the curriculum and it’s quite comprehensive. It explores how the universe works, the emergence and history of life on Earth, models of society and civic engagement, culture, and interpersonal relationships. This area of the project is framed within a Big History framework: the story of the cosmos, from the Big Bang to the present. Only we’ll do it backwards: starting with life as we know it, and seeking answers to our questions by going back in time to see how we got here. Eventually this will lead to questions of origins (what came before the Big Bang, what caused it, etc.), which requires the next part of the curriculum, exploring the ultimate order-of-things and the meaning of life.
Life in the World is the big picture (our relationship to life itself), where we ask the big questions of meaning, faith, and God. This part of the project begins with discussions on the nature of reality and ultimate reality, of meaning and ultimate meaning, followed by explorations of all major belief systems in the world (both religious and secular), and culminating with the Christian gospel and a telling of the biblical story Big-History style (only we go forward this time: from creation to new creation).
The plan is to include guest contributions from leading voices in all the traditions covered, so we can learn from those who know them best. As for the Christian Story, it will take into account both the biblical presuppositions regarding the spiritual dimension of reality, and also all that we have learned about the world through science, history, and human experience in general. That’s the project in a nutshell.
The journey Now, this is how I have arranged all this on the mountain. Because I want the journey to be a sort of conversation, I'm arranging the material in linear fashion, with one topic leading to the next. I'm also arranging the content in such a way that we start on common ground, speaking in secular terms, before we explore things from a Christian perspective. Because of this, I have divided the mountain in two sides (the left and the right).
Going uphill we'll speak in secular terms, tapping theoretical resources in psychology, sociology, philosophy, etc., until we get to the question of God near the top. After we cover the question of God in general terms (religious studies, theology), we will encounter the God of the Bible and hear about his gospel. This will take place at the top of the mountain. From the mountaintop we'll see a new horizon, looking toward the new city, and seeing everything now in light of the gospel.
The rest of the journey (downhill) will mirror the journey uphill, covering the big picture toward the top, the situational and interpersonal around the middle, and the existential level near the foot of the mountain.
In this scheme of things, the uphill journey is mostly bottom-up, learning all we can about the world by means of observation and experience, while the downhill journey adds a top-down lens, seeing it all now in light of the biblical Story. The overall picture that emerges is one integrated reality: in an ongoing dialectical process, what we learn through our experience is integrated into the narrative-world of the Bible—the former concretizing and enriching the latter, the latter giving meaning and coherence to the whole.
Here's a bird's-eye view of the first handful of entries I've been working on. Five of them are already complete (except for their Going Deeper sections), and the rest come next.
All these discussions belong on the "secular" side of the site. The content I have for the Christian side of the project hasn't been refracted through the project's framework. If you want to see what's emerging there, see the main gospel page.
Traction on Reality
This is the first discussion and the entry point to the curriculum. It introduces the project and sets the stage for what's to come.
This is one of the first sections in the curriculum. It gives an overview of the ground we'll cover in the secular side of the project and how we'll go about it.
What Do I Want?
This section is part of a module covering existential and personal aspects of human experience. This entry explores the place and significance of our longings and desires.
Our Sense of Self
This entry is also part of that module I just mentioned. It explores the dynamics of subjectivity, identity, etc.
This section is still forthcoming. It belongs somewhere between the existential and the situational domains. It will serve as an epistemological/phenomenological primer, to prepare the reader for the rest of the project.
The Good Society
This discussion is the first entry in a module on the social world.
Our Home Planet
Discussion forthcoming, part of a module exploring the natural world, the emergence of life, etc.
Also forthcoming. The last entry projected for this module will engage questions of origins, leading to questions of ultimate meaning—the subject of the next module in the curriculum.