This week looks really, really crazy. In part, it looks crazy because I have tons of group meetings all week for final projects. I have no less than three different group projects in motion right now! Of notable interest today is my group for Marriage and Family — we met today to film our project. We opted to do a video project, so we arranged a set and did some acting today. The project still has a way to go, but it feels good to have the video all on tape now at least.
One of the weird paradoxes of Covenant has been that it has been one of the most encouraging and discouraging experiences I've ever had. Encouraging in seeing the professors and students live the Gospel, encouraging in the wonderful opportunities to learn and be stretched, encouraging in the wonderful people I have met, encouraging in the common sense of mission, encouraging even in how I've learned I like homiletics classes!
But it is discouraging too. A lot of that is in the overwhelming workload. This semester is the first semester ever that I have fallen behind in reading for classes at the beginning of the semester. A few classes have drawn so much time that the others have had to play second fiddle. I don't like that — it makes me uncomfortable and it makes me feel like I really cannot do my best work.
I'm hoping it will improve in the coming weeks. But tonight I feel discouraged.
Over the span of five days, starting today (Thursday), I have five papers or sermons of varying sizes due. I've been facing writers block of a sort again lately, so it was with much joy that tonight I was able to start writing fairly quickly again. I filled in (at least in rough form) four of the six sub points in my sermon project and even came up with one illustration.
I just hope God will keep me cruising through the pages tomorrow. If I can keep up at the same rate, I could have rough drafts of my two largest projects fairly complete tomorrow. That would given me a little wiggle room to edit and rewrite as needed.
Well, today, I checked in to Covenant for the Spring semester. I do not actually start until next Tuesday, but as of today, all of my stuff is in order, and I have all of my books, save a few special ones for an independent study. I've enjoyed being off, and wouldn't necessarily complain if I had a few more weeks of downtime, but that said, it looks like an interesting and exciting semester ahead.
Here goes nothing…
Tomorrow I have my first class of my second normal semester at CTS. The class tomorrow is “Preparation and Delivery of Sermons” (a.k.a. “Prep and Del”). I'm rather excited about the course, for it will be my first opportunity to be in a class taught by the seminary's president, Dr. Bryan Chapell (we will read his book, Christ Centered Preaching as part of the course). This should be interesting!
The rest of my classes are on Wednesdays and Fridays, so I shall post more on them later.
Well, last night, I turned in my last paper for my last Greek class. Including the title page, two page bibliography and appendixes for the final translation, text criticism, sentence diagrams and word/translation analysis, it rang in at 26 pages. (The actual main body text was something like 14-15 pages.)
It was the culmination of the most intense class I've ever taken. I worked countless hours on it, spending as much time as I could in previous weeks trying to assemble it (although the group project that included a presentation and 25 page paper, as well as translation of 1 Corinthians took precedent since they were due first), and basically did nothing but work on it over the last week. Despite that, I've never cut a paper so close to the deadline as this one: I finished the final draft at 5:35 and it was due at 6:15 yesterday — and I'm the type of guy that likes to have a paper finished at least 24 hours in advance.
That's when my computer started acting up and the printer messed up.
I caught the first set of errors, but not the second set after I sent the print job to my printer from my laptop. A lot of the Greek on the second print had been replaced with little square blocks. I did catch it on the way to Covenant, went to my godmother's house and e-mailed the paper so at least it would be in on time in some form. She journeyed with me to Covenant and gave me some moral support as a desperately tried to reformat the paper (it turned out the second set of errors was from the lack of various fonts on my laptop that I did not have easy access to install). The paper's sentence diagram was all scrambled up and had to be reformatted for the fonts on my laptop before it could be printed. Finally, I got the hard copy to print and delivered the paper to my professor's mailbox.
What a relief. This has been a Greek “bootcamp,” I do believe.
For my fellow members of NT 302 Greek Reading (or anyone else tinkering with Greek), you may find this tool handy; it is a freeware flash card program that lets you bring up words for quizzing based on their usage frequency, as provided in the late Bruce Metzger's lexical aids. It's a pretty nice tool, and it works great on Mac OS X, as well as Windows (a Linux version is also available, though I have not tried it). It is not quite as well polished as Crosswire.org's flash card program, but the frequency selection seems invaluable.
Well it is a tradition of mine to “review” my classes after a semester is finished. I don't do it every semester, but I intend to at least. Before I get to that, though, I'd like to introduce my blogging buddies to my blogging seminary buddies. Hmm… the categorization police might come after me, for the first category includes the second, but you know what I mean.
I've added links to the blogs of three classmates and friends from seminary. Jennifer often has very encouraging posts, such as her staple “PTL” posts that quickly mention all kinds of praiseworthy things of the week; Brad is busy engaging with issues of Christ and culture and has produced some thought provoking commentary; and John is the shutterbug, who tries to post at least one interesting photo he has taken each week. I probably should follow the example of each of these three here on asisaid. They each add something nice to my blog roll.
Now to the postmortem. Probably the big surprise of the semester was Spiritual and Ministry Formation. We spent about 1/3 of the class dealing with calling and very practical applications of Myers-Briggs (I'm INFP) to ministry. The rest of the class featured a theological hero each week and asked “what is it about the Gospel of Grace that enabled” that person to achieve the amazing things that they did. This always served as a springboard into a topic such as God's sovereignty and human responsibility. Dr. Douglass approached it with a real zest and it was more fun than I ever thought I could have in an evening class!
I expected Church History: Reformation to Modern to be good, and it did not disappoint. Dr. Lucas is another great professor (who is also now on my blogroll), and his classes were tiring, not because they weren't interesting, but because I often felt like I was flying through time in them. He would cram so much great stuff into each lecture that it was as if I had experienced weeks or months of events in an hour and fifteen minutes. His class can literally wear you out! Wow. The accelerated speed made it possible to see how things connected by virtue of the fact that connected events came up in fairly close proximity, rather than days or weeks apart from each other in the lectures.
Introduction to Counseling with Dr. Winter was an interesting overview of a very complex field. I enjoyed seeing the connections with psychology and better understanding how pastoral counseling might be implemented. I wish I could take a one semester course from Dr. Winter on each of the one week units (depression, perfectionism, homosexuality, etc.) — I think that could be helpful. His assignments encouraged some useful self-reflection (for improvement, not for narcissism).
Finally, Beginning Greek I was a course I did not want to take. I really hoped to skip it since I had previously taken Koine Greek back in 2005 (and a bit of self-teaching in years prior), but I missed out on testing out by a small amount. I was bummed out going into the class, but it ended up being a delight. Dr. Doll (who finished his M.Div this semester and is now off to some fortunate church to pastor), who was formerly a classics professor, put his knowledge to great use and helped really dig into some of the interesting cultural and literary connections between the Greek language and the New Testament. It was great; I only hope Greek II and Greek in Exegesis this summer will prove just as good.
Well, that's all for now.
Well, I turned in my last project of the semester today, and I am now off for a whole three weeks! More Greek starts in June, but I have at least a few weeks to catch up on things outside of Covenant, which is good. It has been a joy to be there this last semester, but I'm happy I can take care of the things I've let lapse.
Like reading the blogs of my fine blogosphere friends. And publishing articles. And… well, lots of things. I'm also reading Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling at the moment, which is nice (as odd as it sounds to say fear and trembling is nice). It feels good to read something of substance that is not for an assignment. I have a ton of books I want to read this summer, though I probably won't get them all, top on my list of projects would be: Christ and Culture (H. Richard Niebuhr), the Brothers Karazmov (Fydor Dostoyevsky), the Four Quartets (T.S. Eliot), and Purgatorio (Dante). What are y'all reading at the moment?
But, for now, I think a good thing to do would be to enjoy getting some sleep, so good night.
Well, how much can one tell of classes on the first day? Usually, I can tell pretty much, but certainly not everything. But, going by the first day, this is going to be a really great semester. Between the first three classes and an amazing chapel service, I left campus today after my first class day at Covenant Seminary feeling really excited and uplifted. How wonderful! Is it the common sense of mission? The exciting topics? God's working in the campus and students? All of the above?
It was just great.
I'll say more later, but for now I just had to share the excitement. Admittedly, the first day is easy, and it is something new and exciting. But, I didn't really feel that excited yesterday or the day before. I didn't even feel that excited — just, perhaps, a bit apprehensive — this morning before class. But, afterwards, I just felt like I was exactly where I was suppose to be.
Hopefully it will stay that way!