TRS Chester

— the unofficial blog of Theology & Religious Studies, University of Chester

Student perspectives (Liam Metcalf-White)

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Liam Metcalf-White is a 3rd year undergraduate studying our BA Religious Studies, and was game enough to accept the invitation to talk us through a few days in the life of a Chester student. 

Monday morning had been a time to get ready for the week ahead, making sure that all my notes were in order and that I had enough food to make some packed lunches. An afternoon spent perusing through books that may be useful for my dissertation was followed by an evening of cooking dinner, a little light reading and an early night in preparation for what was to become a fairly exciting Tuesday!

The first task of the day was to make sure that all the presentation slides and notes were in order for my Jews, Christians and Pagans seminar that afternoon. It was exciting to be in charge of the first student-led seminar of the year and I was confident that the presentation slides and seminar questions we had prepared would provide the rest of the class with a good basis for some stimulating discussion and debate! I briefly chatted to a friend of mine about a poster that made a rather poor attempt at a joke before continuing on with some study for the module, Religion and Culture. For this week’s reading, I had opted for the one entitled Social Perspectives by Arweck and Beckford in an edited volume by Woodhead and Catto. This was an interesting read and I found its investigation into why it is important to consider the social dimensions of religion rather intriguing and insightful.

After an interesting lecture examining religion in the Roman world and its function, it was over to me and my colleague to lead the seminar. Our goal was to introduce a critical discussion on whether the Romans were religious or not. The questions we asked resulted in a great response from other students. Informed by the readings, there was much discussion over what is meant by the term ‘religion’, and whether Clifford Geertz’ definition of religion is appropriate when applied to Roman religion. Our final seminar question on whether the Romans were religious sparked some really exciting debate. Our lecturer even tweeted that, ‘things are heating up in Jews, Christians and Pagans!’ After an eventful seminar session it was back to the library to pick up some books and then off home for some dinner, reading and some downtime spent on BBC iPlayer.

Wednesday morning allowed for a further few hours spent in the library, this time continuing on with some readings for my dissertation. After making some good progress and chatting with a fellow Theology and Religious Studies student, I made my way home to practice guitar and make sure I was prepared for the following day of lectures and seminars.

A good night’s sleep was exactly what I needed! Thursday was going to be a busy day. Medical Ethics in the morning was followed by Religion and Culture and Feminist Perspectives in the afternoon. After a thoroughly interactive session on Modernity it was straight into the question of, ‘how do feminists do theology?’. This was a really informative session as it allowed further discussion of questions that had arisen during the pre-reading of Margaret Kamitsuka’s paper on the challenge of difference in feminist theology.

After three intellectually stimulating lectures it was time to make my way to the local pub for a well-earned drink with a few close friends from the department. A brief chat about the latest Hollywood blockbuster and that all the best ales are from Yorkshire was followed by a discussion regarding Joseph Atwill’s controversial book, ‘Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus’. Thus proving the long-standing point that philosophy is best done at the pub!

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