Tag Archives: study

How not to live well.

A robust theology of creation has a bearing on our view of work, I think. Work is not in and of itself the result of the fall. I won’t get into the details of such a theology, but simply say that it results in an understanding of most work as good and profitable and in keeping with our design as human beings.

But conceptually, what does this work look like? Does it simply mean “work hard and do your work well”? What does “well” mean? I’m sitting here huddled in a study room in the library. I should be finishing an assignment–one of three technically due by next Tuesday–and I’m caught in a tension I’ve created for myself. It’s between wanting to do something well and recognizing that I cannot do it all.

Before I came to seminary, I was told by someone in our denomination not to worry about marks so much. That’s difficult for me. I feel like the grade I receive on a paper reflects whether or not I did the paper well and right.

I’ve also been told on a number of occasions by one professor at least that I should not read my books word-for-word. That’s also difficult for me. If I’m going to read something, it seems to me that I should read it all. But that can get me into trouble. Sometimes the reading never ends, but my time does.

There are some maxims that float around the seminary. “Sometimes finishing well means simply finishing” (or something like that). In terms of work (including study) as an act of worship and as a part of an integrated life that includes other things like family and physical needs, “Sometimes getting an A on an assignment means getting a B from the Lord.” They might sound like trite platitudes, but they are true in many respects. Because doing something well is something much more holistic than simply getting a good grade or creating the best product or learning the most stuff. Life isn’t a compartmentalized thing, made up of individual units that can be measured in isolation from the others. My family life factors in to doing school well. So does my spiritual life. I may get A’s (As?) in my classes, but I’m not always (ever?) getting A’s in terms of a well-integrated life.

What this means is that sometimes simply getting things done is more important than doing that thing as well as possible. At least, “as well as possible” can only be measured truthfully in relation to every other aspect of my life. To measure my best for something in isolation from the other aspects of life is to create impossible expectations for myself, because my best in this sense–that is, any one thing in isolation–will always crowd out everything else.

And that, friends, is not how we live well.

It could be all Greek to me.

Well, today it was officially announced in class: introductory Greek will not be offered next year, as they are starting a rotation of the languages offered. Rather than teach all levels of every language every year, they will alternate intro and advanced years.  This provides some clarity in my decisions for which classes to take, but not enough to actually make the decision. This development means I take intro to Greek (which I must take for my degree) this May or in my third year.

If I take it in May, I will be able to take intermediate Greek next school year. I’d like to take the intermediate level of both Greek and Hebrew, but if I do, it looks like one of those languages will be on my own time and dime: that is, I’ll get credit for them, but they will be over and above my program requirements (I’ve been advised that auditing the languages is not a good idea).  Plus, Greek will be helpful and informative for future New Testament classes.

While I think having advanced learning in both languages would be very valuable in pastoral ministry (particularly if I will do a lot of preaching), the question is, do I want to take the time and money to do those courses now, or take them later as opportunity arrives or pursue some self-study? I’m not sure I’m disciplined enough for self-study, but then Hebrew has been one of my favourite classes and I usually look forward to translating it into English. I may develop a similar passion for Greek.

If I don’t take Greek in May, I will not take advanced Greek at all, because that would require us staying here for an additional year just so I can take two courses. As far as I can see at this stage, that option is unlikely.

However, I’ve been told that it’s quite an opportunity to be able to study under Tremper Longman III, who, as I said in a previous post, is teaching a week-long course on Proverbs in May. Then there’s the Hebrews course also offered.  And another core course.

I given most of these angles by my faculty advisor (who is also my Hebrew professor), which was helpful for clarifying the categories for decision-making, but still kind of leaves me in the same place: so many good options!

Basically, I need to decide in the next couple of weeks which language I want to take advanced courses for.  I wish it was possible to see a plan of all classes to be offered for the next couple of years so I could plot my whole course. Alas, I won’t even know what will be offered next year for another week or two.

I suppose I could just follow my program, which requires both intro I & II for both Hebrew and Greek and only one second-year language for only one of the languages. But languages are so fun and would be so useful!

Argh.

AN ADDITIONAL THOUGHT: I’m sick of writing papers for this year.  I won’t have to write papers for Greek and at the end of May I’ll be done.  With the other courses I’ll be working into June.

Plus other stuff…blah blah blah…

ALSO ALSO: If I don’t take the Greek course, it will be easier for Dixie to take a course in May which she wants to take.  But also, I think my heart might be telling me to take Greek. Or maybe it’s just my mind telling me it has had enough of research papers for a couple of months.

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.

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*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.