Academic Programs 

Spirituality in an Age of Transition    (WS-688)
Fall 2003

This course explores the dynamics of a rapidly changing world and our relationship to the Divine in ways that evoke new understandings and a heightened awareness of the role of the Spirit in shaping our response.  

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Wednesdays, 6:00-9:00 p.m.

Miriam Therese Winter
Professor of Liturgy, Worship and Spirituality

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9509


Course Syllabus

Goals and Outcomes

The primary goals of this course are:

  • to examine our relationship to the Divine in the context of a rapidly changing world and paradigm shifts in traditional values
  • to assess the relevance of our own spirituality in an age of transition
  • to explore ways of integrating our visible world with the invisible world of spirit in order to shape for ourselves and our times a more viable, visceral spirituality

The primary outcomes of this course are:

  • an increased ability to explore and express what lies at the core of our struggles and blessings as a step toward strengthening our spirituality during this age of transition

  • a deeper appreciation for life’s mystical dimension as reflected in the spirit of the universe and our life-sustaining planet

  • a more conscious awareness of the underlying unity of all that is

General Expectations

Those taking the course for credit are expected to:

  • read all the books on the course reading list
  • participate fully in class discussions and activities
  • complete the self-assessment Grade Sheet, which includes documenting how course outcomes were achieved

Those auditing the course are expected to:

  • participate in class discussions and activities

  • read as much as you are able to manage

On the day that grades are due, students taking the course for credit must submit to the instructor either a Grade Sheet or a signed Incomplete Form (available from the registrar or at our online forms center).

Grades are due January 5, 2004.


Syllabus of Readings

Session One          September 10                Spirituality and an Age of Transition

There is no required reading for the opening session.

Session Two            September 17              Struggling for a Spirituality of Hope

Reading: Scarred By Struggle, Transformed By Hope (Chittester)

Session Three          September 24      The Mystical-Physical Nature of Existence

Reading: Science, Sense, and Soul (Blood)

Session Four             October 1                     The Spirit of the Universe

Reading: The Hand of God

Session Five              October 8              Faith and Belief in an Age of Transition

Reading: Evolutionary Faith (O’Murchu)

Session Six                October 15                  Manifestations of the Divine

Reading: Love Poems from God (Ladinsky)                   

Session Seven            October 22                  Spirituality in Times of Terror

 Reading: God in the Balance (Heyward)

Session Eight             October 30                   The Cultivation of Gratitude

Reading: Radical Gratitude (Leddy)

Session Nine              November 6                 Learning to Live as One

Reading: The Cosmic Dance (Rupp)

Session Ten              November 13                 Spirituality in an Age of Transition

 Reading: The Call (Spangler)


“Today the world changes so quickly that in growing up we take leave not just of youth but of the world we were young in.  We cannot not change. But we can refuse to be converted. Change, struggle, conversion have become the spiritual hinges of the new century on which hang not just our present but our past as well.”

Joan Chittester
Scarred By Struggle, Transformed by Hope


Course Reading List

Blood, Casey. Science, Sense, and Soul. The Mystical-Physical Nature of Human Existence. Los Angeles: Renaissance Books, 2001.

Chittester, Joan D. Scarred By Struggle, Transformed By Hope. Grand Rapids:  William B. Eerdmans, 2003.

Heyward, Carter. God in the Balance. Christian Spirituality in Times of Terror.  Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2002.

Ladinsky, Daniel, trans. Love Poems From God. Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West. Penguin Compass, 2002.

Leddy, Mary Jo. Radical Gratitude. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2002.

O’Murchu, Diarmuid. Evolutionary Faith. Rediscovering God in Our Great Story. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2002.

Reagan, Michael, ed. The Hand of God. Thoughts and Images Reflecting the Spirit of the Universe. Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press, 1999.

Rupp, Joyce. The Cosmic Dance. An Invitation to Experience Our Oneness. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2002.

Spangler, David. The Call. New York: Riverhead Books. 1996.


“Life is a balancing act lived between the poles of unreasonable hope  on the one hand and disheartening disquiet on the other.   Struggle is part of life. It is not struggle that defeats us, it is rather our failure to struggle that depletes the human spirit.  The essence of struggle is the decision to become new rather than simply to become older. Enduring struggle is the price to be paid for becoming everything we are meant to be in the world.”

Joan Chittester  
Scarred By Struggle, Transformed By Hope



Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500