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Live HS
Theology
From Boys to Men: Discovering Life Lessons and Virtues from the Lord of the Rings (High School)

Where can I look for answers to the riddle and mystery of my masculinity, my life, and the deepest questions of my identity and vocation as a man? The Lord of the Rings! Come join the Fellowship and embark on the quest. Become who you were born to be!

Total classes: 6

Prerequisite: Have read or listened to The Lord of the Rings before the first day of class

Suggested grade level: 9th to 12th grade

Suggested credit: ½ semester Theology. 

Description

This is a course blending faith, literature, life, and the masculine mission for middle school to high school level boys. The works and letters of J.R.R. Tolkien as well as various writings of the saints, Dr. Peter Kreeft, Pope Benedict XVI and St. John Paul II will be used to shine a light on the masculine mission of being 1) aware and awake to the wonders of the world, 2) a caretaker of the garden of the world, 3) a brother to all in a shared humanity, 4) a guardian and defender of the good, the true, and the beautiful, 5) a steward and protector of the family.

“It’s a living hymn to mercy, humility and the power of Divine Providence. It isn’t a fantasy epic but an epic of virtue… There are so many lessons and examples of perseverance, courage and many other virtues, so necessary for a person of faith…  – Sr. Magdalen, Carmelite sister

Outline

Week 1: The Soil of the Shire is Deep

Being rooted in reality is the place to begin. “It is best to love first what you are fitted to love, I suppose: you must start somewhere and have some roots, and the soil of the Shire is deep. Still there are things deeper and higher; and not a gaffer could tend his garden in what he calls peace but for them, whether he knows about them or not.” (Samwise Gamgee)

Week 2: Born into Battle

We are all of us born into a battlefield between good and evil, and boyhood is our bootcamp. But what is the fighting for? “War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.” (Faramir, Two Towers)

Week 3: The Road Goes Ever On and On

A boy is called out and discovers himself in the gift of himself. “He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.’” (Frodo, of Bilbo)

Week 4: The Rightly Ordered Heart

What does a young man do with the desires of his heart and the attraction of the senses? Where should our passion be placed? “’In many ways,’ answered the wizard. ‘It is far more powerful than I ever dared to think at first, so powerful that in the end it would utterly overcome anyone of mortal race who possessed it. It would possess him.’” (Gandalf, Fellowship of the Ring)

Week 5: The Fellowship of the Ring

Brotherhood, good friends, and encouragement must be part of a boy’s life. The truth that we are not alone but move toward a common purpose is key. “’Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.’” (Aragorn)

Week 6: There and Back Again

Where does the journey lead and where will it end? Family, fatherhood, and the vocation of a man. “And Rose drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap. He drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.” (Sam’s return home, Return of the King)

Materials and Homework

Course materials:

The Lord of the Rings: One Volume by J.R.R. Tolkien (http://a.co/4arbceW)

Suggested further reading (optional):

  1. R. R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-Earth by Bradley J. Birzer (https://amzn.to/3cBgxpv) and The Philosophy of Tolkien by Peter Kreeft (http://a.co/amNbNrO)

Homework:

Humanum video studies and reflection essays on masculinity and archetypes will be given (http://www.eccefilms.com/humanum/)

Study on what makes LOTR a “profoundly Catholic and religious work” (Tolkien’s own words) will be undertaken.

Assigned readings and short essay assessments will be given.

Assignments involving character studies and their application to the saints and the life of virtue will be undertaken.

“Choosing My Fellowship: A Band of Brothers” Project. Who would you want on the journey with you? 4 LOTR characters, and 4 saints.

Important Dates

Class dates: Thursdays, January 18 to February 29, 2024 (No class Feb.15)

Starting Time: 2:30 PM Eastern (1:30 Central; 12:30 Mountain; 11:30 Pacific)

Duration: 55 minutes

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