This summer, I needed a break. I think that’s understandable considering Covid-19, an election year, an attempted insurrection, Winter Storm Uri bringing Texas to its knees, displacement caused by the storm, and every thing else that’s happened over the past 16 months. That said, I intend on teaching summer school next June. But I want to mix it up a bit. I don’t want fifteen days in a row of class when it’s summer outside, so I’ve been thinking up a class proposal for a unique-to-summer class I want to offer in 2022: “Religion in San Antonio”.
If this class happens, one of the goals will be the make sure it has several “field trips”. As you’ll see in the outline posted below, I imagine a trip to the Missions (which includes The Alamo but also would probably require a stop at San Fernando Cathedral), to the Hindu Temple of San Antonio, Temple Beth-El, and the nearby Sikh Dharamsal of San Antonio, though these choices could change based on what’s practical and available. (The Hindu Temple and Sikh Dharamsal are 22 and 11 minutes away from our campus, respectively, making them ideal.)
I’ve been reading Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth by Brian Burrough, Chris Tomlinson, and Jason Stanford. At the beginning of the Introduction, the authors share a quote from John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley: In Search of America that perfectly captures the potential this class has: “I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion.” Anyone who has lived in Texas, or spent a lot of time here, understands this quote. I’m a born-and-raised Californian. I have a lot of pride in this. But Californians’ pride and self-obsession can’t match that of Texans. So, the intersection of Texas culture(s) and religion isn’t just about religion in Texas, or religion in San Antonio, but it’s Texan-ism—its Texas-as-religion.
As I said in a recent post, there are a few books about Texas I want to read in preparation. Additionally, I’m listening to a podcast series and about to begin another one that’ll help round out my knowledge of Texas:
- Brandon Seale’s “A New History of Old San Antonio”
- Ken Wise’s “Wise About Texas”
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