Teaching moments

Hard truths

Whatever you do, for God’s sake don’t ask a question in class, that really makes Holmer mad,” said the older, wiser graduate student. This was my only preparation for entering Paul Holmer’s legendary class on Søren Kierkegaard at Yale Divinity School.

Sure enough, at the end of the first session, after a wonderful lecture on SK’s early years, giving the impression that he actually knew Kierkegaard from his days as a student in Minnesota, Holmer looked out at the class and asked, “Questions?”

A pompous student stood and asked a long, rambling, self-important question about SK’s intellectual influences.

Holmer stared in silence at the student, then looked out over the classroom and asked, “Are there other questions?” The student slumped down into his chair. Class was over. That was the last question that semester.


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