Images of Wrath and Redemption: Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"

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Objective

SWBAT analyze how Jonathan Edwards manipulates the emotions of his audience by guided independent reading and notes.

Big Idea

Fire & Wrath! Jonathan Edwards' vivid imagery in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" delivers a fear-filled impact.

Introduction: "Read a Book Day" and "Iguana Awareness Day"

8 minutes

We open class with two Daily Holidays to celebrate today: Read a Book Day, because we will; and National Iguana Awareness Day, so they should be aware of any iguanas wandering the school.*

Today is our first real Friday of the year, and I take the time to introduce the students to the "Friday Favorite," a poll I do weekly with the students asking them to vote on a topic. Since the week is National Waffle Week, today I ask the students what their favorite breakfast "main dish" is, and give the options: waffles, pancakes, french toast, cereal, eggs (and style), and other.**  

Since this is the first real "Friday Favorite" I'm polling, I explain how and why we do this to the studentsAs with Daily Holidays, the Friday Favorite serves to build a sense of community, openness, and trust in the classroom, especially early in the school year as teachers and students are still "feeling out" the classroom climate and communication styles. By providing students a time to , students propel the conversation; clarifying, verifying, or challenging ideas and conclusions (SL.9-10.1c).

*A few students get the word play. 

**Waffles won, incidentally. 

Discussion: Are All People Good?

15 minutes

Students have responded to the journal prompt, "Are People Basically Good?" (see "Introducing Puritan Values: Journal Reflection" section of the lesson, "Your Creation Myth Day 3: Writing a Final Copy"). To refresh the students' memories, I recap the full prompt with students, and then open the forum to the students to share their thoughts on any or all parts of  their responses to the question (Student Sample).

When students read, I allow them to move around the room because classroom desks are not always the most conducive to learning, and in many cases, can be downright uncomfortable.  Students are reading independently in order to practice tackling difficult texts, creating understanding on their own, and questioning the material.  

In order to react to Puritan belief and introduce the concept of good versus evil, students are called upon to present their responses and supporting ideas clearly, that listeners can follow the line of reasoning (SL.9-10.4) and for students to clarify, verify, or challenge their peers ideas and conclusions (SL.9-10.1c).

 

Imagery of Wrath and Redemption

25 minutes

As we wrap up our look at inherent goodness in people, I to skim the biographical sketch of Jonathan Edwards while I point out a few significant highlights of the writer's life: minister, known for sermons, part of the Great Awakening, known as a scientist, run out of his own congregation, president of Princeton University. Understanding of these details of the author's life will assist the students in their independent analysis of the text, and the inference they make about the author's purpose (RI.9-10.1). Author biography provides context for what the reading. For this one, I chose to mini-lecture, highlighting the key facts in Edwards' life. I chose to have the students read on their own, because we have been doing a lot of teacher-directed classwork as of late, students will be addressing the sermon individually and in small groups.

Students are asked to read the excerpt from Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,"* beginning with the line "Your wickedness," in the third paragraph of the section, "Application," on page 15 of the .pdf. The excerpt continues through page 19 of the .pdf, "nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one Moment." The excerpt also includes the paragraph beginning, "And now you have an extraordinary opportunity," on page 26 of the .pdf. These sections provide students with the specific textual evidence needed (RI.9-10.1) to complete the project, understanding how Edwards manipulates the text to build fear in his audience, only to provide an opportunity for redemption at the end (RI.9-10.5).

As students read, they are to identify five images of God's wrath and an image of redemption, and address how it appeals to the readers' emotions. This handout provides students to take notes that will be used for their own study and for the project they will complete to demonstrate understanding of how Edwards uses imagery. 

For this sustained silent reading, students are free to move around the room, sit on the floor, etc. When students read, I allow them to move around the room because classroom desks are not always the most conducive to learning, and in many cases, can be downright uncomfortable.  Students are reading independently in order to practice tackling difficult texts, creating understanding on their own, and questioning the material.  

While students read, I visit each of them to check on their reading and to collect the poem rough draft due today (see the "Drafting a Plain Style Poem: Directions and Practice" section of the lesson, "Explicating House Work: Edward Taylor and the Conceit.") 

*With thanks to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. 

Two Minute Warning: Homework and Have A Good Weekend

2 minutes

With two minutes remaining in the class, I ask students to return to their seats, and let them know that if they did not finish the reading in class today, whatever they did not finish is homework. If any time remains, ask if anyone has plans for the weekend. Typically, we will have time for one student to share.