Tag Archives: school

I am a man of constant indecision.

I’m staring at my class options.  I need to register in the next couple of days and I need to make some choices.  Choosing courses has always been a struggle for me: there are often so many good options, but you can’t take them all and some of them are offered only every other year, so who knows what my schedule will look like then.  I had a meeting with my faculty advisor and established three courses which would be beneficial to take in this first semester, but that still leaves one or two choices.

The other choice is whether to take a full five-course schedule, or keep it down to four.  Part of me wants to dive in head-first; another part of me wants to (somewhat) ease in–let the family settle.  Plus I’m still working on my distance course from Briercrest, which is due October 12, which is essentially halfway through the semester.  I sometimes wish I could just be told, “These are the courses you must take.”  Actually, the M.Div. program is quite set out already, with only about 6 electives available in the three-year program.

The three courses I will take for sure: 1.  Theological Foundations I; 2. Introduction to Pastoral Ministry (a one-week intensive in October); and 3.  Koine Greek I.

A course I will likely take: Christian Ethics.  The name of the course brings me back to my high school days, but it’s a different sort of course.  One of the the required course texts is Yoder’s The Politics of Jesus, which I have wanted to read for some years now (I already own it–yay!), and the course is based heavily on Bonhoeffer’s Ethics.  Interesting!

Other course choices (if I choose to go with 5): 1.  Theology of Mission (“this course is born of the conviction that theology without a missional goal is not theology”); 2. The Birth of the New Testament (a course I will eventually have to take); 3.  Reading the Church’s Bible (“traces the unified narrative of the Bible through its constituent parts in the Old and New Testaments”).

Any suggestions from you current (or recent) Prov students who happen to read this blog?

I suspect that it would be best to take only four courses this semester (plus completing the Briercrest Seminary course).  Maybe I’ll register for five courses and then drop one early on after attending a class or two.

Tomorrow I will drop my Patristic Fathers syllabus off at the registrar’s office to see what sort of credit (if any) I can get for it (assuming I complete it).

The truth is, I’m getting a bit nervous about all this.  I don’t have much faith in my organizational/scheduling skills or my discipline.  I successfully completed one semester at the graduate level at the University of Regina, so I know I can do this.  But looking at the syllabi for these courses, the reading in particular scares me.  I enjoy reading, of course, and I enjoy theology, obviously, but I’m a slow reader.

I guess it’s time to get serious about studying.  I got a B.A. without being very serious about the whole business, but I don’t think I can do that here, for several reasons which I won’t explore right now.


Well, here we are.  In Otterburne.  In our new home (trailer footage to be posted later).  Internet access.  Phone to be activated on Thursday.  Etc.  We are settling in.


1.  The first offer on our house arrived late in the afternoon on Thursday.  Our original plan was to leave Wednesday afternoon, then we bumped it to Thursday morning, then possibly Thursday evening and finally, due to circumstances I won’t detail here, we decided to leave Friday morning.  Late afternoon Thursday our realtor arrived with an offer on our house–the first offer made since we put it up for sale.  Our realtor warned that in the Prince Albert market, offers would be aggressive and this offer was indeed aggressive: $30,000 below our current asking price, which was already $25,000 below the professionally appraised value.  We made a counter-offer.  During supper our realtor called and said, “Sold!”  An 11th hour deal if ever there was one.  The offer is subject to standard conditions, which we will hear about by the end of this week, so there is still a chance that this deal will fall through, but it’s still a huge load off of our minds.  Had we not delayed our departure, things may well not have gone as they did.  Coincidence?

2.  We ended up leaving Prince Albert at noon on Friday.  The plan was to shoot to drive the entire 9 hours to Otterburne, but to stop somewhere if we couldn’t go any further (I was driving the 17′ moving truck and trailer, Dixie followed in the van).  We made it to Portage La Prairie at about 11p.m. Manitoba time.  Just before we arrived, Dixie called me from the van and wondered if we had any mattresses handy in the truck.  We had one.  Which gave us a total of one mattress and one pillow for the five of us to sleep in the trailer that night.  So we decided to stay in Portage and get a good night’s rest before all the unloading (which wouldn’t have been fun at midnight).  Unfortunately (bizarrely?), it was too late for the hotel staff to get a toddler bed, so the five of us had to share two queen beds.  Long story short, I got less than 2 hours of sleep (on the floor) that night.

3.  Some church friends came out to Otterburne to help us unpack.  Some of our new neighbours helped as well and one couple invited us over for supper Saturday night.  We already feel welcome (and are making new friends).

4.  It will take time to get used to some of the ways things are done here.  When I lived in Caronport (essentially a Christian town and home of Briercrest Schools), I used to roll my eyes at people who didn’t like the rules.  “If you don’t like the rules, you don’t have to attend this school,” I would say.  But now that I’m coming into a somewhat similar situation from a decade of living without externally imposed rules, I can see that this would be a struggle.  Not that I have run into anything particularly problematic, but Dixie has already said to me, “Those are just the rules, Marc.  It’s the way they do it and we have to live with it.”  She’s right, but I can now understand a bit of the frustration students at Briercrest sometimes must have felt.

5.  Steinbach, the nearest inhabited place of commercial and grocery note, is a nice town.  Main street looks great, but I fear it will die out, as the north end of Steinbach is all big-box stores.  Not that I should really grumble about that, as I’ve already shopped at 4 or 5 of said stores.

Steinbach shuts down almost completely on Sundays, which is unusual these days.  Except for fast-food places, gas stations and convenience stores, everything is closed on Sundays.  You can get emergency milk at a convenience store, but if you desperately need a pomegranite on a Sunday afternoon, you are out of luck.  I mention this only because we drove the 15 minutes into Steinbach on Sunday to get groceries, of which we had virtually none (other than those thoughtfully purchased for us by Gavin and Shauna).

6.  Monday we drove into Winnipeg to get groceries and some other things.  We are now Executive Members at Costco.  Whoopee!

7.  Trip to Steinbach today for some other needed (and unneeded) items.  Got internet access (still working on that one, though) and set up an account with MTS and will have an active phone number by Thursday evening.

8.  Still more unpacking to do, but we’re getting settled in.  There is a very strong wet dog smell in the house when the windows have been closed for a while (the previous owners had two dogs and a cat).  Dixie’s mom suggested spreading baking soda over the rug, which we’ve been slowly doing throughout the trailer (one reason we didn’t sleep in our bedroom until last night).  Hopefully that works.

9.  There is a wasp nest under our trailer which I need to clear out.  Will do so tonight.

10.  School starts on September 9.  I hope to finish most of the assignments for the distance learning course I’m taking from Briercrest before then.

11.  Trying to decide if I should take 4 or 5 courses this semester.

12.  And so on.

13.  Writing in tags for this post and accidentally typed “cemetery” instead of “seminary”.  Coincidence?

The paper.

Hey Mom, I find it interesting that you refer to the Weekly World News as, “The paper.” The paper contains facts.

This paper contains facts. And this paper has the eighth highest circulation in the whole wide world. Right? Plenty of facts. “Pregnant man gives birth.” That’s a fact.

Name that movie.

* * *

Well that was more painful than it needed to be.  I’ve written longer blog posts in less than an hour.  But the paper is done and submitted.

Am I happy with the paper?  Not entirely (not sure I’ve ever been completely happy with a paper).  But that’s mostly because it’s the first paper at the seminary and I have no idea what their expectations will be.  After a while as student gets to know where the rules can be bent and where professors are flexible, so the requirements of assignments become less of a concern.  But for the first paper there are so many unknowns that it’s nearly impossible not to feel uneasy about the outcome.  I think I felt this way about many of my university assignments, but I did quite well in the end anyway.

I’m beginning to think, too, that if I’m serious about a seminary education, full time study might be on the horizon.  We’ll see how the next couple of months go, but if they’re anything like the last month has been…well, the idea of being in such a state constantly for, say, the next 9 years (the time limit to complete an MDiv at Briercrest) of distance learning doesn’t really appeal to me.

And 9 years is a long time.  Dixie and I went out for supper tonight and in the moments between yawning and resting our heads on the table and seat backs, I said to her: “I’m almost 31.  I’ll be ordained by the time I’m 40.”  So we’ll see what happens in the next little while.

At this point, I need to sit down and really plan out the next 7 months of schoolwork.  I have no deadlines from now until June, when all the course requirements need to be completed.  I need to get in touch with the library at Briercrest and request some books just to learn how the system works and to see how fast that process of shipping books is.

Tonight was the first night in a long time that I wasn’t stressing about assignments or reading.  Dixie and I watched the first episode of Lonesome Dove, nothing else.  I need to reply to some emails and post some posts and, more than anything, get some rest.

3-2-1 Homework!

I started the coursework for my seminary course on the Patristic Fathers tonight.  Cup of Evening Delight tea (Safeway Select’s peppermint chamomile concoction) in one hand, Henry Chadwick’s The Early Church in the other, the fire crackling in the TV (a fireplace DVD—need to get our real fireplace safety-checked*) I set about my task to read 2 chapters in the book and listen to the first lecture.

The verdict to this point:

1.  I am an incredibly slow reader and probably for that reason not worthy of the “Seminary Student” title.  Consider: it took me 2 hours to read the 40 pages that made up the first two chapters of the book.  Not good.  While it’s true that the flow of the text isn’t great (and I’m tired, which is a bad combination), I will need to learn to read much faster than I do.**

2.  The lecturer isn’t particularly engaging, but he sticks to the outline and the lecture is pausable and rewindable, so I can’t complain.  I’m about halfway through the lecture.  I don’t think I’ll finish tonight.

3.  Despite #s 1 and 2 above, the topic is fascinating from the get-go: church history, church order and heresies from the get-go.  Much of this was familiar territory (thanks to Mr. Gonzalez in 2006), but I don’t mind the refresher (Boo, Gnosticism!  Boo, Marcion!)

4.  Fireplaces on DVD aren’t so bad.

*We’ve lived in this house for more than a year and have yet to use our fireplace.  I’m not sure what to make of that.  Every time I consider just lighting something in there already, I get images of chimney fires in my head.  I just keep forgetting to call someone (and when I did in the past, no one got back to me).
**The slowness of my reading is mostly due to wanting to catch everything in the text, which results in going back and re-reading.  This gets worse when I’m tired, as I’ll suddenly find myself “reading” the book without comprehending a single word.  My concern with reading faster is missing a lot more information, but maybe that’s OK.

Patristic Fathers

Well, folks, I’ve just registered for a seminary distance learning course.  It’s “The Patristic Fathers” (see here about those ol’ boys).  This means that 6 weeks from registration (tomorrow, I suppose), my first assignment will be due.  Yikes.

The reading and subject matter should be very interesting.  I’m looking forward to it.

At Linea’s suggestion, I ticked the box that includes the course texts with the course materials, which is handy, even though I could probably get them cheaper online at Amazon.ca or Chapter.ca.  But then I’d have to wait, etc.

Oddly enough, I gave them my credit card information on the registration form, but they did not indicate how much I would be charged before the application was submitted.  I have an approximate idea of what the fee for the course will be, but textbooks?  No idea.

The seminary, by the way, is Briercrest.  At least, that’s where I’ll start, though at this point I can see myself completing the course there as well.  Why Briercrest?  Several reasons: it’s a good school; it’s familiar (I went to high school and 2 years of Bible college there); it’s nearby; it’s cheaper than other seminaries; the program looks interesting.  And so on.  Factor in traveling alone and it’s a much more economical choice.  Too bad my parents don’t live there any more.

Is Briercrest too convervative for you?  (Or maybe too liberal?)  Show me a school that strikes a perfect balance—I implore you!  It’s the tools learned in school that are of particular importance to me—not a particular theological angle.  But maybe the two are intertwined?  Who knows.

Anyway…there were are.  The adventure begins.