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Brother Sun, Sister Moon

I just gave my first real lecture - Teaching Fellows here give one of the main lectures every semester, and I chose to do mine on Saint Francis and the erotic allegory of divine love.  I didn't know what to expect, but it went wonderfully and I had a great time.  My own students, the ones in my section, were absolutely wonderful - I could tell they went out of their way to ask lots of questions and engage with the material.  I think they will deserve a special treat at next week's section. 

So I talked about St. Francis who is best known for preaching to the birds and loving animals.  The collection of his hagiographical writings is called "The Little Flowers of St. Francis."

But he was no sissy!  He traveled to Egypt to meet with the sultan in the middle of a crusade (he wanted to try to convert the sultan through conversation instead of war), fought in some battles himself, and was really hardcore about his vow of poverty.  But his main thing in life was joy - all things to him were cause for delight in the Lord, which makes him so fun to talk about.

Some little images for your enjoyment:

 Receiving the stigmata:
 Marriage to the allegorical Lady Poverty (this story is wildly entertaining)
 From a 16th century manuscript of the Song of Songs
 Even older text of the Song of Songs!  11th Century.

The class asked me a ton of questions about Christological readings of the Old Testament.  Can you really read Christ into the creation stories?  Or see an Incarnate God in the Song of Songs?  Isn't that just anachronism? 

In the Canticle of Brother Sun, St. Francis talks about a post-incarnation picture of nature that sounds a lot like Eden.  He imagines that Christ has redeemed not only man but earth, wind, water, and fire as well, and it is within the harmony of all of creation that man celebrates his salvation.  I had a lot of fun engaging with this Divinity School stuff down with undergrads on the main campus, especially after we have been reading love poems and treatises from late antiquity for the whole semester.  The students had wonderful insight, and I fell even more in love with teaching than before.  


  1. Yay!!! I'm glad your first lecture went to well!!! Did you call them your smart little cookies (in a wisconsin accent) ??? :-)


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