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"Love and Responsibility" is one of the texts by St. John Paul II studied in the Theology of the Body class | Amazon
“Love and Respon­si­bility” is one of the texts by St. John Paul II studied in the The­ology of the Body class | Amazon

Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Phi­losophy Nathan Schlueter first promised Thomas King ’15 he would con­sider teaching The­ology of the Body only if King could get 15 stu­dents to commit to the course. Within two days of reg­is­tration, Schlueter’s class had filled to 25 stu­dents, prompting Schlueter to open an addi­tional section which filled up just as quickly.

This year, Schlueter’s class has drawn just as many stu­dents in just as short a time.

“That the stu­dents have latched onto it this way, I think is pretty telling, pretty remarkable,” Schlueter said.

Since its first offering in fall 2014, The­ology of the Body has con­tinued to draw a large crowd of eager stu­dents to study the works of St. John Paul II on human dignity and sex­u­ality through mar­riage and love.

Schlueter said such dis­cussion attracts the Hillsdale stu­dents’ pursuit of knowledge and truth.  

“And you ask yourself, why would stu­dents want to take this?” Schlueter said. “And the answer is duh, look around. We have never lived in a time of so much con­fusion over our embod­iment. I think stu­dents are hungry for some direction in that.”

Junior Lara Forsythe offered two reasons for her interest in taking this course in the spring.

“Oh baby. Schlueter,” Forsythe said. “And, it just sounds fun­da­mental for life … there is the­ology for every­thing and so when approaching any topic you should be thinking, ‘What is the the­ology of this?’ and ‘Where does God come to play in this topic?’ and that is some­thing that really excites me and I am very inter­ested in that.”

John Paul offers this direction through the writings such as his great work, “Love and Respon­si­bility,” his script, “The Jeweler’s Shop,” as well as his papal audience lec­tures given from 1979 to 1984.  

“This isn’t just about love, and mar­riage and friendship, this is about cre­ation and redemption,” Schlueter said. “The pas­sages are there to be seen in Scripture, but no one ever saw them like John Paul II.”

The course cul­mi­nates in a research project that explores an exam­i­nation of a novel, song, artwork, or poem of through the lens of The­ology of the Body. A Pathos website, Love Among the Ruins, was ini­tiated by Kathryn Wales, wife to Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Religion Jordan Wales, to publish some of the student works done for this class assignment.

Senior Jessica Jenkins was enrolled in the inau­gural The­ology of the Body class and examined the Sistine Chapel’s artwork as part of her final project.

“What I learned really shaped me as a person,” Jenkins said. “Looking at life after The­ology of the Body, I think that has really changed my outlook on my phi­losophy classes, but also how I approach my per­sonal life and the choices I make.”