Below you will find a summary proposal for a lay education initiative that I am working to implement locally. I am posting it here to garner constructive criticism and feedback on ways I can make it better or pitfalls I might avoid in implementing it. If you have feedback, please leave it in the comment section at the end.
As you will notice, the initiative has a number of moving parts-direct instruction, something like a Socratic seminar and charitable service. (Three parts to be exact, hence the name.) I see some problems with the current set up of lay education or rather the lack of it. It tends to be piecemeal, lacking in vision and something of the wild west. It also tends to require very passive involvement. To address those concerns the program below is more holistic, so to speak. It aims to prepare younger church members to survive college and to actually equip the laity to evangelize from a position of knowledge and experience. Youtube videos and social media just don’t cut it. I aim to not only teach people, but to teach them how to find things they need to know. In essence, I am not handing out fish but rather teaching them to fish for themselves.
To that end you’ll notice that I require participants to put some skin in the game by purchasing a book for a given course. In a country with subsidized education and many parishioners having at least some college education, I don’t think it is too much to ask laity to have one bookshelf of works on church history, theology, some basic philosophy and apologetics, along with other items on sacramental theology and the liturgy.
I also require participants to devote one hour a month to some charitable service which include things like working at a food bank, soup kitchen, visiting prisoners, sidewalk counselling at an abortion clinic, community gardening, visiting the elderly and such. Volunteering at Coffee Hour isn’t an option here. This is because I don’t want the program to be merely an intellectual exercise. Here I wax somewhat Platonic in wanting to balance out exercise of some parts of a person with exercise of others. I think of it also in Kierkegaardian terms. Some virtues (namely the moral virtues) you can’t get from reading about things. You have to actually go and do things, usually with and for other people. The only way to acquire those virtues is actually engage in activities. Besides, you’ll learn a lot more about your true self that way than you will in most other ways.
Such activities also present individuals with evangelistic opportunities so that they can put to use material that they have learned in direct instruction. And of course, these are things Christians should be doing anyway. I don’t think one hour a month is too much to ask, unless someone has some extenuating circumstances.
I had planned on implementing this program this May, but given the Kung Flu lock down in my state, it will have to wait until the Fall. In any case, this is what I have in mind. So if you have any constructive criticisms to make, I am all ears.
What is Triados?
Triados is the Greek term for Trinity. Triados is a three-part integrative educational initiative that aims to promote lay education in Orange County, CA. Triados is taught from an Orthodox point of view within the context of the Orthodox Church but participation in Triados is not limited to the Orthodox. Triados provides opportunities for learning and participation in charitable work for Christians across the spectrum of churches and traditions.
Triados is both inward and outward looking. Inwardly, Triados seeks to provide a high-quality level of education for Orthodox laity covering a variety of topics initially spanning historical theology, philosophical theology and apologetics. Outwardly, Triados aims to provide lay education for Christians from multiple traditions and to promote faithful and intelligent discussion. Triados is aimed at adults but especially young adults who desire a deeper understanding of the Christian tradition and who intend to survive a secular college with their faith intact.
But being integrative Triados also includes a forum for discussion and opportunities for a wide variety of Christian service in Orange County. Triados aims to bring together the development and refinement of the intellect alongside of charitable service for the development of moral virtue. Triados therefore aims to support growth in the intellectual and the moral virtues.
The Three Parts of Triados
Triados is comprised of three parts or more properly speaking three venues. These are Didache, Dialog, and Praxis.
Didache is the Greek term for “teaching” and most notably the shortened name for the ancient Christian document, The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. Didache assumes a traditional lecture style format over a multi week course. Courses range in time from four to upwards of ten weeks with breaks of three to four weeks in between. Courses meet once a week and last for approximately one hour. Participants are usually required to procure course materials, usually a book and to pursue required readings, thereby fostering “buy-in.” Lectures are recorded and posted on a program website for either later viewing or for participants who may have missed a class to catch up. Any electronic resources are also made available via the website.
Dialog is the second part of Triados and it is what its name expresses, namely a discussion forum format. Dialog meets once a month. At meetings participants in Didache meet to discuss what they have learned in their readings, explore other related topics and consider possible objections. This is carried out in a loose discussion format that enables participants to receive clarification, resources for further investigation and to put what they have learned to use.
Some meetings of Dialog in between Didache courses will meet to discuss problems, concerns and what participants have learned from whatever charitable work that they have chosen to participate in.
Praxis is the third part of the Triados initiative with the name meaning “practice.” Participants in Triados volunteer at least one hour a month at a charitable endeavor of their choosing. It may be some form of charitable service at their local church or some other venue. All service needs to be aimed at the poor or the vulnerable in society. Triados provides contact information for a variety of charitable endeavors from everything to food banks to sidewalk counselling at abortion clinics and everything in between. The purpose is to move Christians to action and to use what they have learned in Didache and Dialog and also to take what they have learned in Praxis to help inform their understanding of the material in Didache and Dialog.
Triados has a central webpage where participants can find more information on courses offered, materials for courses, meeting times and locations for Dialog and contacts and opportunities for charitable service.
Likewise, Triados utilizes Facebook in tandem with the static webpage to post updates, photos of events and for advertising.
Other means of advertising include mailers to local Orthodox and non-Orthodox churches in the OC area. Business cards along with flyers to post at local bookstores and other venues will also be utilized.
The intention is to keep operations as simple and low cost as possible. Donations at meetings are accepted to help defray the cost of any refreshments that may be offered and participant efforts to clean up after meetings. All materials can be acquired by participants through various retailers or at low cost by Triados personnel. No other exchange of monies is expected or desired.
Location and Times
Meetings would require utilizing the parish hall on a regular basis, but given that meetings are likely to be small for long period of time, using the entire hall will not be necessary. Didache meetings will take place weekly on a Saturday, either in the morning or the evening. Dialog meetings will meet on a Friday evening once a month.
Ireneaus of Lyons
Gregory of Nazianzus
Cyril of Alexandria
Augustine of Hippo
Maximus the Confessor
Mark of Ephesus
Existence of God
Problem of Evil
Problems of Knowledge (Epistemology)
Problems of Reality (Metaphysics)
Problems of Ethics (Ethical Theory)
Problems of Science (Philosophy of Science)
Canon of Scripture
Kierkegaard’s Sickness Unto Death
Virtues in Plato and Aristotle
Divine Omniscience and Human Freedom
Council of Nicea
Council of Ephesus
Council of Chalcedon
Council of Constantinople II
Council of 2nd Nicea
I am nowhere near you, but that sounds lovely.
Well a long term possibility is that this or something near enough could be replicated elsewhere. So in some ways, this is kind of the pilot.
Perry Robinson, I saw your post about Triados. Awesome stuff. Will there be a way for those of us who live outside of California to participate in the readings, lectures, and discussions?
What will be available outside the local venue are the Didache “lectures.” Those will be on a Youtube channel dedicated to Triados.
There are a number of reasons why I have framed the program the way I have in terms of being limited to a given location. One is that I want real world contact and some real world guidance offered to people. Second, most everyone seems to be following some kind of self promotion business model where you scramble for subscribers. I am not interested in doing that in part because it always is under the downward push to dumb everything down to the lowest common denominator. Besides, if you have followed the blog for any length of time or worked thru the archives you can see that I am not really interested in talking about and doing what everyone else is doing.
Another reason is that for the Dialog section, there are privacy concerns and I would like to avoid any kind of litigious possibilities. That is just the world we live in. And I want people to feel comfortable to take ideas out for a conversational test drive. They are less likely to do that if they are on Candid Camera.
Further, as I remarked to another commenter above, I’d like to see this or something like it created and implemented across diocese in the US. As I have said here on the blog in the past, I think apologetics and theological instruction should be implemented through the diaconate. I think it would be a good idea for a diocese to have a couple of deacons who oversee curriculum development and implementation of lay education and to further produce church specific materials for in house use as well as to be available to the public. Something similar to the way the LCMS or WELS does it. One of my peeves is that you have authors out there pretending, especially in the Protestant world, that they approach such issues from a theologically neutral vantage point. I believe transparency is much better. People know right off the bat what perspective they are getting.
Another reason is, this a hobby for me in the sense that it is something I can do to serve the church outside my day job and family responsibilities.
So thats the long answer for generally, no. Anyone can see what we are reading and follow along the lectures, but the discussions in Dialog will be local as of course will be the charitable service.
My hope is to use this as a pilot, run it and grow it for a few years, work out any kinks along the way and then perhaps it gets noticed by ecclesial higher ups (in a good way of course) and so something like it can be implemented more widely.
Thanks, Perry. It’s still a great opportunity to see your lectures and have access to the reading list. Is the website, FB group, and list available yet, or will that have to wait until Fall when Triados starts up?
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