Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday, November 06, 2009 - 14 comments

School Daze

In the comments for my last post, Dr. John made some requests, "How about sharing a little of school with us the next time you blog. What classes are you taking. How hard are they. What are you discovering. " Those are some excellent ideas, especially since I mentioned that all my creativity is being sucked away.

It's almost like a customize meme. The next question is how I want to answer them. Do I want to be comical like Thom? Would I prefer to be euphemistic, and thereby avoid revealing too much about how I really feel about things? Should I sound all whiney and cynical about things?

I don't feel creative enough to be comical (on purpose). And if I try to balance the euphemistic and cynical stuff, it might come out somewhere near the truth. Ah truth, if there's one thing that I'm learning about it's people's ideas about the relativeness of "truth."

First things first ... Why don't we take a little tour of the campus of Wesley Theological Seminary. This was from a few weeks ago when there were still leaves on the trees.

1. What classes are you taking? I'm taking an ambitious load of: The Hebrew Bible, The New Testament, Early Church History (up to the Reformation), Philosophy, and Teaching and Learning. It comes to 17 credit hours. The idea with this was to get the required courses completed as quickly as possible, so that I could have the maximum opportunity for electives. I also wanted to be able to take a lighter load the year that I have to write my thesis.

2. How hard are they? I wouldn't really call any of them hard, except one, but they are all a lot of work. All but one have many writing assignment due throughout the semester. Few of them are very long, but the volume of assignments is challenging. (For example, the Hebrew Bible course has nine papers due in a 13 week semester.) That surprised me. I expected fewer papers with greater length requirements. I think that the longest papers I have are about seven pages. And, of course, there's all the reading that goes along with it. The Bible's the least of it (though it is extensive, of course). It has been "interesting" trying to adapt. I think that I'm on a good schedule now.

Strangely enough, the class that's the hardest for me is "Teaching and Learning". It is designed to help us to better adapt to the learning requirements of student to be effective. I think that it's ironic that I can't seem to connect with the professor. She's trying to introduce many different teaching techniques, but I always feel lost in her class. (She's a Lutheran, btw. lol) I am encouraged, however, because we're getting to a more practical part of the syllabus where we are evaluating and creating course curriculum. I get to work with charts and do long term planning. I love that kind of stuff, and I actually think that I know what the professor wants.

So, except for that one hiccup, I really love all my classes. I'm learning about new ways to look at Scripture and work with it. And I really love how all of these classes compliment each other. I was learning about different perspectives for Bible interpretation in both Hebrew Bible and New Testament at the same time, so those new concepts were reinforced, and I felt that I really learned and understood them more thoroughly than would have been possible otherwise. Philosophy and Early Church History have had a similar relationship because, the western philosophers had a huge part to play in church history, and they were contributors or developers of theology and doctrine. Talking about them (and their place in history) in both classes really helps to get it locked into this ol' brain. :)

3. What are you discovering? I would like to answer this with "It's too early to tell." That's mostly because I don't like the answer that I have to this question. I guess I am discovering some things, but I expect my assessment to change over time. (Sorry, I'm hedging here. lol) Right now, I'm discovering that the early church leaders were just as prone to politics and infighting about theological details for both personal and spiritual reasons as people in the church are today. I actually think that it might have been worse then if you can believe it. (And I haven't even gotten to the Crusades or the wars surrounding the Reformation yet!) I guess that I had hoped that I would find some church leaders back then who treated their peers with the dignity and respect that Jesus taught in the Gospels. I'm kinda bummed about not finding it.

I'm also discovering that my fellow seminarians are just as prone to being exclusionary and insensitive as anyone in the secular world. Even when they can spout out the lessons of the Bible in class, I see very little evidence of them putting them into practice when interacting with their colleagues. That has probably disappointed me more than anything else. I guess it's a good thing that I have time for little else than my classes. (And it helps when I remember that I'm an alien, and there are some things that I just don't "get." ;) )

As you can tell, I'm a little discouraged in the emotional department. I've tried to put on a happy face, and I really haven't said too much about it because I don't want to be a whiner. But if you can't be honest on your blog, where can you be honest? Right? On the other hand, it's probably not that much fun to read. But there you are. Can't have it both ways. LOL

But having said that, I'm still really glad that I'm here, and I'm learning about things I never dreamed of in my classes. That's really awesome. Thanks be to God! :)


Cherie -- I do not know why I didn't think of it earlier, but I have just added your name to my daily prayer list.

Great post, Cherie! It's really nice to know what's going on in your life, even if it's not all good. (Hey, nothing in life is all good.)

You could have discovered about the divisions and dissensions in early church history from one Discovery Channel documentary, however. ;) Seriously, though, it was definitely worse then. At least church leaders don't seem to be having people killed these days (though I'm not sure about some of the fundamentalists). LOL!

Well, however things turn out, you'll have learned a lot. About learning, teaching, the church, religion, your fellow man and yourself. :)

In the meantime, I hope you're getting to partake of everything DC has to offer! It's such a culturally rich city.

the campus is lovely
and you're clearly embracing the challenges and making it an adventure

I'm so pleased for you
and proud of you :)

Quilly: Thank you so much!

Nessa: It better! LOL (I really am kidding. I'm in this for the long haul.)

Mountain Photog: Why do I have this feeling that this is my ol' pal, Lisa? (I checked out your blog. Very Nice!) I probably watched that special on Discovery or at least "a" special on that channel (or the History Channel, or PBS ...). LOL And what I'm talking about started much earlier than when church leaders had the power to have someone killed (except by ratting them out to Roman officials). I'm not having as much time as I hoped to explore the wonder that is DC, but there's time. Maybe I'll take a few days after finals to go exploring when I don't have any responsibilities. :)

Dianne: Thanks! :)

Sorry, Cherie, I should have signed my name! I keep forgetting that not everyone knows who "Mountain Photog" is. :)

I guess documentaries of that type probably would be on the History Channel, wouldn't they? So you're talking way before Constantine and the First Council of Niceae? You mean all that in-fighting started with the disciples?? LOL!

Well, if it makes you feel any better, I think most people would be disappointed if they knew the true history of the church. It's not a pretty picture. Much of what is taught in the church today is dictated by what church leaders decided on centuries and centuries ago. Still, it must be fascinating to delve into all of that in such great depth.

Lisa: LOL At first I was thinking, "This person who I've never seen before, sure knows a lot about me." This was when I was reading it through my email notification, but I figured it out pretty quick, esp once I saw your blog. :) As far as the in-fighting is concerned, I really don't mean the disciples themselves. But yeah, the folks right after them were already saying things, like, "I'm not sure he's even a Christian," about people they disagreed with regarding what I would consider relatively minor differences. And yes, it is fascinating. :)

Thank you ever so much. You seem to be doing better than I did my first year.
I was a pious conservative in a liberal Lutheran Seminary.But my worst class was also Christian Education and it was taught by two Professors from the Methodist Seminary.They wrote the book we used. I hated it too.

Hi Cherie, it's me, Lisa. LOL!

I think the thing that fascinates me the most about church history, or any history for that matter, is how many years teachings and traditions survive, even when the reasons the traditions sprang up in the first place have long been forgotten. I believe knowing the past gives one a more enlightened view of the present and makes one look at the world a bit differently. You are truly lucky to be able to devote so much time to such pursuits. :) But I'm sure the work load can be overwhelming at times. . . Hang in there!

Dr. John: That is funny about the Christian education class. So we had Methodists teaching Christian ed at the Lutheran seminary, and we have a Lutheran teaching it at the Methodist seminary. I guess fair's fair. ;) So, does this mean that you've become more liberal over the years? You seem considerably more liberal than my Lutheran friends in the Missouri Synod. ;) (Though my prof is definitely more of the liberal bent.)

Lisa: It really is interesting, especially when people interpret those traditions through a modern lens. When you understand why they decided what they did, it often makes much more sense. A lot of the times (most of the time) it was decisions by committees. And you know what that means, no one was happy. Or you know, the vote was like 51%-49%, so it came that close to going the other way. And there were some very upset folks out there. (Yeah, I really do get into this stuff. LOL)

Well Larisa. Thanks for sharing this. Spike is real proud of ya. I'm going to be honest here in that I didn't even know all these type of classes existed. Don't ask me why cuz I couldn't answer that. But it sure is interesting to read about. The pictures were awesome MWAH!!!

So true about those decisions by committee. LOL! This fall I dropped off three of the committees I was on. I must say, it felt good. :)

I'm glad to hear that the little bit of disillusionment hasn't soured you completely on the experience.

Best of the luck that things get a little better on that front as you go along.

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