Thursday, February 10, 2005
DECONSTRUCTING HOLLYWOOD “ROMANCE” FOR REAL-LIFE LOVE
At Santa Clara University, students are immersed in love and romance, but not for the regular college reasons. While their pursuit isn’t entirely academic, in a class called “Theology of Marriage,” the approach is scholarly, if not particularly romantic: "We break down the 'knight in shining armor' idea that there is one person just for you," said Frederick J. Parrella, a religious studies professor at the Jesuit-run university who has been teaching the popular marriage course, which constantly has a waiting list, for more than 15 years. "We're all made in God's image," the theologian stressed, adding that based on that idea, there is not necessarily one soul mate out there for everyone. Finding the right person for a committed relationship involves meeting people, making the right decisions and not just going by feelings, which are bound to go away, he told Catholic News Service in a Feb. 4 telephone interview from Santa Clara, Calif. In the span of the 10-week course, Parrella steers his students through the sometimes tricky love terrain by juxtaposing current books and movies that deal with love with deeper theological writings that delve into marriage as a sacrament and a reflection of God's love. The students watch clips from popular movies that present romantic love, such as Disney films, or Oscar-winners such as "American Beauty" and "As Good as it Gets," and read "I and Thou," by the late Jewish scholar Martin Buber, and "The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts," by Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee. (JDaters Anonymous is thrilled to note that “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “The Rules” are nowhere on this list.) For students in this class, assignments include writing down deepest fears about relationships, doing interviews with couples who have been married more than 10 years, and “engaging in plenty of discussion about love on the big screen compared to a day-in-day-out commitment over the long haul.” If you were teaching a class on love, romance, or marriage, what reading materials would you assign? What kinds of projects would you ask your students to create? Is there any movie, book or other cultural influence that you think has had a positive or negative impact on you in terms of shaping your expectations of love and romance?