My New Online Short Course: “Spirituality in the Writing of L.M. Montgomery” at AST in May, 2022

Happy Friday fair readers! I am super pleased to announce my new Short Course with the Atlantic School of Theology: “Spirituality in the Writing of L.M. Montgomery.” This May 2022 4-week online audit course is completely open to anyone who is interested. There is still time to sign up and it has an incredibly low registration fee of $20.

If you have been following A Pilgrim in Narnia, you will have seen that for about 5 years I have been publishing the occasional L.M. Montgomery blog post, resource list, review, academic essay, or event. Almost from the first page of rediscovering Montgomery’s literature as an adult, I have been struck by the way that she invites readers into a more vivid vision of the spiritual life and a more capacious theological imagination. This course is a chance for me to test my ideas with eager and open readers from around the world.

I have the full course announcement below, as well as a list of lectures and weekly readings. I think it is important to acknowledge a couple of striking points.

First, kudos to AST–a multidenominational seminary in Halifax, NS–for continuously offering quality local and online theological and pastoral education. AST reaches not just those who fill future pulpits and podiums, but also the folks in the pews–and, in the case of this course on L.M. Montgomery’s literature, people who are likely to have a novel in their hand as the sun sets on the day. It is also striking that AST’s leadership caught the vision of my work with Montgomery as a “theological storyteller” (and this may have had something to do with Rob Fennell, who published my first academic chapter ever).

Second, $20 for a 4-week online course! How do they do that? This is a radical discount from the cost of running a high-quality continuing education course at the Atlantic School of Theology. It is made possible by great sponsors working in partnership with AST: the Pollok and MacKinnon memorial funds of Pine Hill Divinity Hall. For those of you with the means, have you considered supporting local and online education so that as many people who can are able to access it?

“Spirituality in the Writing of L.M. Montgomery” is designed for everyday folks with a curious mind and an interest in Montgomery’s writings. Thus, the course has deep lectures, readings, and discussions with a light design–all hosted on Facebook. I can’t wait to see how great readers like yourselves react to my unusual approach to Montgomery’s life and works and help me experience her stories in deep and resonant ways. I hope to see you soon!

Full details below. Email me at junkola[at]gmail[dot]com if you have questions.

Spirituality in the Writing of L.M. Montgomery

by Brenton Dickieson

Course Description

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s iconic Canadian novel, Anne of Green Gables, has been translated into 40 languages and has sold 50 million copies. Montgomery was an author, Presbyterian minister’s wife, and church leader, and her 21 novels and 500 short stories include conversations about faith and are deeply attentive to spirituality and social morals. Yet she is rarely studied as a Christian public figure or as a writer of theological interest.

This program takes Montgomery seriously as a conversation partner for theological exploration. Participants will study Montgomery’s religious space, her hopes and dreams, her fears and darkness, and the unresolvable tension between her journals and her public writings. We will read her fiction as an “invitation to spiritual life,” discovering the spiritual theology Montgomery invites us to imagine.

Program Details

Sponsor: This program is offered by the Atlantic School of Theology and sponsored by the Pollok and MacKinnon memorial funds of Pine Hill Divinity Hall.

Dates: May 2 to May 27, 2022

Course Format: Asynchronous

Lectures: Lectures are pre-recorded and available when participants are ready to watch them. There will be about 1-1.5 hours of lecture material each week (usually in multiple mini-lectures).

Readings: See the lecture outline and reading notes below.

Book Discussions: There will be a discussion group on Facebook where participants can respond to questions in the lectures, tease out ideas in Montgomery’s writings, and chat with one another and the professor.

Instructor: Brenton Dickieson is a Professor at the University of PEI, Regent College, Maritime Christian College, and Signum University. He curates the literature, faith, and culture blog, http://www.aPilgrimInNarnia.com.

Fee: $20

Registration: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/spirituality-in-the-writing-of-lm-montgomery-tickets-269735485097?aff=ebdsoporgprofile

Course Outline

Week 1: Montgomery and the Spiritual Imagination

  • A Brief (Religious) Life of L.M. Montgomery
  • Anne, Emily, and the Story Girl as Gateways to Fairyland
  • Anne of Green Gables: Being Next Door to a Heathen and the Awaking of the Religious Imagination
  • Reverent Irreverence: Images of God and Montgomery’s “Pilgrims on the Golden Road of Youth”

Week 2: Rainbow Valley and the Invitation to Spiritual Life

Week 3: Darkness as Friend and Foe

  • Belief, Doubt, Mental Illness, and the Cultural Moment: Montgomery’s Tensions and Her Fiction
  • Befriending the Darkness: L.M. Montgomery’s Lived Theodicy in Anne’s House of Dreams

Week 4: Vocation, Artistry, and Spirituality

  • The “Flash” and Numinous Experience in Emily of New Moon
  • Vocation, Artistry, and Spirituality in “Each in His Own Tongue”

Reading List

Week 1:

Week 2:

Week 3:

  • Core Text: Anne’s House of Dreams
  • Referenced Texts: References to Montgomery’s journals and selections from The Watchman and Other Poems

Week 4:

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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