With the advent of spring, love has been on the forefront of many students’ minds.
However, according to Dr. Wood Bouldin, the white-bearded teacher of the love capstone, love is not everything it is cracked up to be.
Bouldin, who described himself as a “historian of intellectual ideas,” has a distinct message for students.
“Romanticism” Bouldin said in a thick, truckstop twang, “is a specifically tailored emotional state for liberal, middle-class people.”
According to Bouldin, virtually all of Eastern’s students have bought into the idea of romantic love.
This romantic love is both “idolatrous and anti-God,” he said.
To counter the influence of this romanticism, Bouldin developed the love capstone on the history of love.
“The capstone is a Christian critique of ideas of heterosexual love in the modern West,” he said.
Bouldin uses the class time to challenge student ideas of “soul mates.”
He even questions whether the contemporary idea of romantic love may indeed be sacrilegious.
He said that romatic love is essentially a creation of the early nineteenth century, and that it presupposes that soul mates are the true fulfillers of people’s need for intimacy.
Thus, the central meaning of life becomes the fulfillment of one’s romantic desires through a human being.
Bouldin’s course attempts to fix this mistake by reinserting God as the center of intimacy.
“Readings and discussions have focused much more on loving God and loving neighbor than on romance,” senior John Mallinen said.
Mallinen said that now, thanks to Bouldin’s class, he might be marriage material.
Marriage is a subject about which Bouldin has a few things to say.
He refers to the “Eastern marriage pattern.” It involves being “engaged to be engaged” by the end of a student’s sophomore year and then officially engaged by the first semester of a student’s junior year.
The process is complete when a student navigates the sexual tension of engagement and plunges into a wedding the day after graduation.
As for himself, Bouldin is the father of two children and the husband of one wife.
He has been married he described as “perfect” since 1972.
Bouldin’s ultimate message to students is a simple one:
“It’s not whether it’s true love,” he said with a smile, “but whether you are true to love.”
Bouldin shares personal insights about his life, career and faith
Biggest regret after leaving Duke Theological Seminary: Not taking Greek: “A Christian who doesn’t have Greek is a little like someone working in a chocolate factory with no taste buds.”
Three favorite things: 1952 lime-green Studebakers, cheeseburgers (he used to eat more than ten at a time) and wombats.
How he got into Bryn Mawr College’s Ph.D. program: “They must have thought a southern, white, hillbilly male would be a good balance to the rest of the crew.”
Why he quit his job at a power plant: “The plant kept blowing up. I decided that there was an easier way to make a living.”
Nicknames for colleague Dr. Steve Gatlin: “He’s a good ole boy. Another wood hick from Cleveland, Tennessee.”
Theological leanings: “Presbyterian, neo-platonic, faith holiness Quaker.”
Explanation behind his unique first name, Wood: “It’s a family name derived from the Norse god Woden. It means ‘weird,’ ‘crazy,’ ‘poetic’ and ‘battle rage.'”
Most well known tirade: Cell phones and their evilness.
Compiled by Josh Anderson