Tuesday, December 1, 2009

BC Discussion ?s: Pope Joan

For the month of November, we read Donna W. Cross's Pope Joan. The following are the discussion questions we used:

1. How important is it to this story to believe in its historicity? Are there lessons to be learned from Joan’s story whether it’s legend or fact?

2. Are reason and faith incompatible? What do you make of Aesculapius’s argument that lack of faith leads people to fear reason?

3. What causes Joan’s inner conflict between faith and doubt? How do these conflicts affect the decisions she makes? Does she ever resolve these conflicts?

4. Joan sacrificed much because she loved Gerold. Do you know women who have sacrificed opportunities for love (spouse, child, etc.)? Are such sacrifices justified? +/-

5. If Joan had agreed to leave with Gerold when he first came to Rome, what would her life have been like? What do you think of her choice?

6. What causes any society to oppress womankind? What are the root causes of misogyny? Are they based in religion or in society? Both? Neither?

7. Why might medieval society have believed so strongly that education hampered a woman’s ability to bear children? What purpose might such a belief serve?

8. What similarities or differences do you see between Pope Joan and Saint Joan of Arc? Why was one Joan expunged from history books and the other made a saint?

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