Work your way back through the course texts (Lewis, Lion, Witch, Wardrobe; Schmemann, Barrron etc.) and Babette’s Feast. Locate and note down all the material you can find about a sacramental way of thinking and living. Study it, analyze it, and organize the material. PLEASE NOTE WELL: A sacramental way of thinking and living is not the same as the seven Christian sacraments. An essay focused on the seven sacraments will be graded down. This essay is about sacramentality, about sacramental ways of living and thinking.
Now, choose from this collection the most important, most illustrative, best examples for your essay exam. You will not and shouldnot use every scrap of this material in your essay, but trying to make the initial collection as complete as possible will mean that your choices from among this collection will be better, that is, you will be choosing from the most complete pool of material possible.
Then write a five-page, double-spaced typewritten essay providing a succinct yet comprehensive summary of what you have learned about a sacramental understanding of Christian theology. How does a sacramental way of looking at things bring God, creation, creatures, redemption, life, and death into relation with each other? The chapters from Schmemann and the central chapters from Barron, Catholicism, will be important, but so too are The Last Battle and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Some Christians say they do not believe that creatures are to be used as means of spiritual power–they believe that God mostly or entirely works directly on people’s minds and hearts and not through creaturely intermediaries. Do you see any indications of this sort of directness in the course readings? Does it make any difference whether God works to save, heal, transform, bring into communion with himself by employing the creatures rather than solely working on people directly? If the creatures are not to be employed by God as means of communion, would Creation still be meaningful for Christians? Does it matter whether it is or is not? Why does the Christian belief in Incarnation help understand and explain sacraments and sacramentality? Answer the above questions based on the your collection of notes from the course materials. Write down your answers. This is the raw material for your essay. DO NOT SIMPLY ANSWER EACH OF THESE QUESTIONS ONE AFTER THE OTHER AND CALL THAT YOUR ESSAY. Answer the questions to create a pool of material from which to draw when you actually write your essay.
Select from your answers the material that you can shape into a two or three-part assertion or overall conclusion (thesis) about sacramentality. Then give your evidence (arguments) in support of the way you answer the questions in your two-three part conclusion. You must have a clear, sufficiently complex, arguable (falsifiable) thesis, which in turn must be supported by clear argumentation.
THIS IS NOT SIMPLY AN ESSAY ABOUT THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS. It’s about the larger picture of sacramentality that arises from ALL the materials in the course. An essay merely about the seven sacraments will earn at most a grade of C.
Essays will be evaluated (1) partly on whether you have done a thorough job of collecting your data from the course readings and the film and (2) partly on how well you understand, analyze, and integrate the material you located into a coherent explanation of what a Christian sacramental framework is, how it functions, and why it matters. You need not believe these things yourself. This exam gives you an opportunity to show how well you understand what Christians believe, not what you yourself believe. You may write about what you believe, if you wish, but you need not do so. The one thing you must do is explain accurately, thoroughly, integratedly what Christian theology says about sacramental belief and life.