The end of the world—a cataclysmic disaster that destroys all life as we know it—has gripped the popular imagination for millennia. Religions imagine it; believers wait for it; ethicists work to prevent it; and writers describe it, often in dramatic, adventurous detail.
And yes, unless our sun happens to find the fountain of youth during its whirling journey through the universe, one day it’s going to burp and fade away, swallowing our little, blue planet as it goes.
But the end, in a way, is nothing new. Studying ancient history reveals so many worlds that have already ended, having lasted for lengths of time I can’t even fathom before falling to dust, either by murder, wear or cataclysmic disaster, or sometimes simply by falling asleep.
Yet somehow in their deaths, they still survive. Bodies rise from the bogs, pyramids stand against the wind, centuries of once-living culture compacts into a single skull or pottery shard. To walk the beach is to tread on crushed remains from ancient oceans, of beings that once lived and died under the sun.
For me, courses are quite a lot like that—little worlds that rise and fall through the tides of a year or two, leaving parcels of information behind like all other leaky things in the universe. Sometimes it’s small things, amounting to barely an envelope; other times it’s a Pandora’s box that shifts the very ground on which I stand. In both cases, what I study greatly affects my thinking, and if you listen to me long enough (or pretty much at all) all these bits and bubbles will start oozing out into the conversation and coming alive again, like a virus or a once-dehydrated tardigrade.
Below is a list of all the subjects I’ve studied at a university level, along with the workshops I’ve attended and courses I’ve followed. It’s not entirely exhaustive; there’s a lot I read about outside of classes as well, but it’s a fairly good picture of what I’ve encountered on this tiny, blue planet as it saunters around the sun.
Dynamics: Particles & Rigid Bodies
The Dead Sea Scrolls
The Synoptic Gospels
Art History: Prehistory-Renaissance
English Language & Literature
Japanese Culture & Religion
Latin America & the Caribbean
South African Literature
The United States Experience
Mechanics of Deformable Bodies
Systems & Signals
Perspectives on Life & Death
Roman Catholic Social Thought
Theology of Reconciliation & Justice
Differential Equations and Linear Algebra
Differential & Integral Calculus
Philosophy & Religion
The Church in the World
Christian Thought: Reformation-Modern
The Development of Western Thought
The Evolution of the Western Idea since the 17th Century
Jesus & Socrates: Faith & Reason
Philosophy of Religion
Grass Roots Organizing
Workshops & Additional Classes
Silat: Malay Martial Arts
South African Sign Language
South African Wine
Astronautics & Human Spaceflight
Avian Care & Medicine