You won't be bored, you may be provoked, and you will come away with a deeper understanding of the church.
"People do have fun in my classes, and I have a lot of fun with my teaching," said Dally, who has come back to Seabury as the newly appointed professor of theology and culture and is somewhat of a theological rock star in the Chicago area, where he has spent most of his ordained ministry.
The course—back by popular demand in January 2013 and open to all—will look at the way Christianity emerged and developed over two millennia as a complex, evolving understanding of God, history, the natural world, and human life. Using images, music and texts, the course uses a wide variety of media to acquaint participants with both the variety and continuity of Christian thought and expression. Through historical re-enactments, participants will experience the lived history of the church in a vivid and holistic way. The concluding sessions will demonstrate how the Anglican way of being Christian synthesizes this entire history and continues its evolution toward a generous approach to existence.
In teaching the course, Dally—a playwright, poet, former rector, writer, professor and choral composer—engages many of his gifts and passions. Reenactments include: A House Church Eucharist, Asia Minor, 251; A Latin Mass from England, 1235; A Manor House Eucharist Using the Prayer Book of Edward VI During the Reign of His Sister Mary; Choral Matins with Sermon from 1868; and a Confessing Church Eucharist from Nazi Germany in 1944.
The course is one of eight required for a Diploma in Anglican Studies, but its hybrid format allows the participation of working people who aren't seeking a seminary degree but want to come, learn and ask questions.
The course will be taught in a week-long intensive from January 14-18, 2013. For seminarians, the course provides three credits for the MDiv or DMin or CEU hours.
Dally particularly appreciates the opportunity to teach and engage with the general public, with people who take the course for the knowledge and experience.
"It's open to the public and allows different levels of involvement," Dally said. If someone can't attend the entire course but wants to attend one or more of the reenactments, which will be performed on Friday or Saturday nights, they are welcome.
"The reenactments are very well done, professionally done," he said. "People can come and experience the reenactments, stay for the following discussion, and share their experiences. That could be their introduction to Seabury."
Dally has been a involved with the seminary for 16 years, holding positions that include preaching lecturer, associate professor of Christian communication, and executive director of the Seabury Institute, which was the seminary’s advanced studies in congregational development program. He holds a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from the University of California at Irvine, a master of divinity degree from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in religion and literature from the University of Chicago, where he was an Episcopal Church Foundation fellow. He is the author of seven plays, numerous works for speech choir, and is writing his second novel.
"I'm a writer. That's my deepest identity," Dally said. "As a teacher, I want to synthesize experiences for people. I let people have an experience and respond to it. I would call myself an experiential teacher."
In addition to his position at Seabury, Dally is artist-in-residence at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Chicago.
Now about that title: You won't see By Gradual Scale Sublimed (a line from John Milton's Paradise Lost) in Dally's online course description because it is too long for some catalogue listings. "I wanted students to look at the course title, not know what it meant, and click on it to find out. I wanted the title to be provocative. When you just call it Anglican Ethos, I'd just skip it."