Step 1  —  Read and Search for Insightful Quotes:

Read the assigned readings for each module. As you read, look for several short and insightful quotes. A “short” quote is 1–2 sentences. An “insightful” quote is a statement that gives a powerful and helpful message about:

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  • human nature,
  • the moral struggles humans often face,
  • human relationships,
  • a paradox about life, or
  • an ideal which drives humans to work, dream, and persevere.

Step 2  —  Select Your Unique Insightful Quote:

After reading the assigned texts, select a single quote which you find particularly insightful and which you want to explain to your classmates.

Insightful quotes must come from the “primary” sources in the reading lists.   Do not use quotes from the introductory material or notes found in the textbook.

*Do not select a quote from Gen. 1-4, Psalm 49, or Ruth.  (Studying the Bible is important, but in this course we want to develop our skills in examining other texts.)

Step 3  —  Explain Your Insightful Quote in Two Ways:

Write a 250 to 300 word explanation of (1) what the quote meant to the original readers of the text and (2) what it means to people today. A quote which is insightful and helpful should relate to people in the past AND in the present.  (Thus, we avoid imposing our narrow culture on the past, and we learn from the past.)  This brief explanation must be written and rewritten until it is clear and easy for others to understand on the first reading.

Step 4  —  Correctly Submit Your Material:

Submit your insightful quote and explanation to the Discussion Board on or before the specified due date and time.  Carefully write your post so others can easily understand your ideas.  Follow the standard rules of academic writing with the exception that you can use the first person singular (“I’ or “me” or “my”), if you wish.

Below is an example of how your quote and explanation should look.  Notice that the quote is given at the top, it is surrounded by quotation marks, and an end-text citation (either MLA or APA) is given.

Sample Discussion Board Post:

“All men dream of freedom, but few men study and understand the burdens of freedom” (Zigulus.  Dialogue Fifteen.  Translated by Adam J. HendersonNew York:  Longman Press, 2012.  Print. Page 34.)

In this quote, Zigulus is discussing how Athenians understood freedom in their close-knit city-state.  Zigulus is warning his audience that freedom is a responsibility and burden.  It takes effort and planning to use one’s freedom wisely.

I agree with his point.  However, Zigulus and his audience were so accustomed to slavery and strict class divisions that they could not conceive of the open society in which we live today with all sorts of alternative life-styles.  Zigulus and his educated, economically elite audience understood freedom in the narrow categories of their own self-development.  All they wanted to do was sit around eating, drinking, and debating philosophical questions while the slaves and common folk were doing all of the work.

We live in a very different world today, yet we are still narrowly focused on our own self-development.  It other words, both the ancient Athenians and today’s Americans are selfish and self-centered in the dream of seeking more and more freedom.  Too often we are blind to the burdens of those who support our easy lives – who support our freedom.

Further, we, and the Athenians, are blind to the burdens we bring into our lives in this search.  We forget that our true goal is to find peace and joy and loving relationships.  Too often our search for freedom destroys these deeper needs.

Ultimately, we need to submit to God’s loving control over our lives.  At least, I am happier when, from time to time, I finally submit to God’s will and let Him lead me – and He gives me the level of freedom that I can truly handle.

Samuel Everyman



Step 5  —  Write Comments on Other Students’ Discussion Board Posts:

For each module (normally, there are two modules per week), you need to write one comment in response to one of your classmates’ posts.  Each comment should be 75–100 words.

Why write the comments?:

When you read posts by other students, you might gain new insights into the meaning of the reading assignments. Perhaps you overlooked something in the readings, or the posts will give you new connections between the various reading assignments.

A second goal of the discussion board posts is to spark ideas for the mid-course essay and the final research paper. When you read a post by another student, you might discover an idea to use in one of your papers. Your reply would be a good place to start developing and testing that idea.

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