Another apology for my lack of blogging is coming your way, dear readers. It frustrates me more than anyone. I’d love to have the inspiration, time and energy to write in this space every day.
A combination of program requirements and my own wishes in terms of study focus led to a semester of 5 classes. This is technically the rate at which a person is to finish an M.Div. in the alloted 3 years. I had hoped to be able to take a maximum of 4 classes per semester by supplementing my regular semester classes with May week-long courses. I still plan on supplementing, but this semester I had to take five classes anyway.
It gets tricker to fit in the required courses with each year I advance in this degree. Not only do I have requirements to worry about, but I also want to take all the Hebrew and Greek classes I can, which means some of my biblical studies electives, normally used for, say, a class on one of the gospels or Romans, will be used for languages. I insist on taking all the Greek and Hebrew I can because I can see myself reading books on Luke or Romans outside of the seminary setting, whereas I cannot see myself picking up a Hebrew or Greek grammar for intensive study on my own time. This, in turn, narrows my options for elective and required courses, making class scheduling each semester that much trickier. (Only 1 required course not taken out of some 25 is available next semester.)
But I digress.
This semester has been good, but busy. On top of an unusually high amount of reading and papers, I regularly lose almost an entire weekday of potential study time in order to fulfill the practical requirements (visitation) of one of my pastoral classes. I do enjoy this time and wouldn’t change it, but I sometimes wonder how much difference one extra day of study and reading could make. (If I’m honest with myself, it wouldn’t make much difference at all, given my work habits.)
Today I had another look at the syllabi for next semester’s classes. They’re all pretty much sorted out (there will be only 4 of them, for one), but I have to make a choice between two theology electives: either “Being Human” or “New Testament Theology”. I’m leaning more towards New Testament Theology, because I’m thinking that it might be a good thing for me to spend more time in the biblical texts themselves, rather than exploring a more general theology. The problem, however, is that the New Testament Theology class is heavy on reading. The required reading includes the entire New Testament and a nearly 600-page theology textbook, among other things. This will all be beneficial to me, I think, but it also means fewer assignments worth a larger portion of the final grade, which means a smaller margin for sloppiness/error/just getting the dang paper done.
Looking at next semester’s syllabi hasn’t helped my stress levels at all. I’ve got 13 assignments and papers of varying difficulty to complete by December 17. That’s stress enough. I shouldn’t add the stress of next semester on to current stress. I’m nearly at the point of I-don’t-care-anymore-I-just-want-to-finish-this, which isn’t a good place to be, in my mind. Marks aren’t everything, of course, but in this work mode learning suffers as well.
What this means, though, is that, if I’m smart, over Christmas I will not do much “free reading”, but read ahead for class. So much for Barth’s Dogmatics in Outline, Brueggeman’s The Prophetic Imagination, Peterson’s Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer, or possibly getting through a good chunk of The New Testament and the People of God. The funny thing is that yesterday I thought to myself that it might be more profitable for me to not read more books and novels, but just read the Bible for a while. Maybe that should tell me something, I suppose.
Alas, it also means less time to write here.
And so, friends, one day I will tell you more about our trip to England and maybe something cool Miroslav Volf said about faith in Free of Charge. But not today.