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Preview: Seminary Tychicus

Seminary Tychicus



Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing.



Updated: 2013-08-29T00:25:52.939-07:00

 



Learner's Church Plant

2007-04-10T17:47:52.972-07:00

Learner said today that, if he ever planted a church (which he has little desire to do), he would name it Mos Eisley (denomination) Church.

When asked why "Mos Eisley," he quoted Obi-Wan Kenobi of Star Wars: “Never will you find a more wretched hive of scum and villany.”

Oh.



God's Common Grace

2007-03-29T17:07:35.447-07:00

From Calvin and Common Grace by John Owen:
"How is it that men who still lie under the wrath and curse of God and are heirs of hell enjoy so many good gifts at he hand of God? How is it that men who are not savingly renewed by the Spirit of God nevertheless exhibit so many qualities, gifts, and accomplishments that promote the preservation, temporal happiness, cultural progress, social and economic improvement of themselves and of others?...How is it that this sin-cursed world enjoys so much favor and kindness at the hand of its holy and ever-blessed Creator?"
Learner's thoughts exactly, he says. "Common grace is so unfair."



Progress: Destination or Journey?

2007-03-12T04:51:18.198-07:00

Earlier this week, Learner received an email from the seminary pertaining to the upcoming building project in the center of the small campus. It read:
"A construction trailer will arrive on campus this week, and then, in about 16 months, we hope to have a new 43,000-square-foot academic and administration building. The building will provide more classrooms with greater flexibility, unite our faculty and administrators under one roof, create a dedicated homiletics classroom, as well as a single center for students to interact with Financial Aid, the Business Office, the Registrar, Academic Planning, and Student Services.

Before we can enjoy the new building, however, we will all encounter some changes and potential inconveniences. Here are some of the changes to watch for:

- The official start date for construction is April 16, 2007.
- The main construction trailer will be staged on site either this Friday, March 9, or early next week. It will be located in the grassy area just north of the Archaeology building.
- Temporary fencing will be placed around the construction site for the safety of our children (and curious adults!). As of now, we expect that the fencing will go up after the first of April, but that could change.
- The current bus stop will also be moved for the safety of the children.
- There will be significant changes in traffic flow and parking. Much more information about this will follow.

Staff will see and hear about the traffic flow and parking changes at the All-Staff Meeting on March 26. Campus residents and commuting students will receive information about new traffic patterns, parking changes, the bus stop move, and much more when they return from Spring Break."
As is typical for him in most things, Learner is all for progress - as a destination rather than a journey. The good news is the same as the bad news: if all goes according to schedule (his as well as the seminary's), he should graduate roughly around the same time as the building is complete. Thus, he'll get to experience all the hassles of the building project (listed above), and none of the benefits. And, if you remember, he doesn't particularly do well with campus chaos.

All this, of course, is only if he gets through another 16 months...which means getting through Hebrew (and other classes involving biblical languages). Still, it's only 16 months, and today is the first he's really thought about that.

"Hard to believe," he says. Indeed it is.



Learner & Anger: Growing Up or Growing Older?

2007-03-07T09:08:30.240-08:00

Like many, Learner does not like to think of himself as an angry person, but he recognizes that he is – or at least can be – given the right situation, threat, or (dare he say it?) desire. He wouldn’t say he grew up in an angry family, but he did see anger used occasionally as a tool and a means for either getting one’s way or not letting others have theirs. Is there a difference between the two? Regardless, anger was an instrument of control – of preference, of environment – and he has been too good a student of its many uses.

In thinking through this, Learner says, certain questions come to mind pertaining to his anger tendencies: Does his becoming so angry so quickly over so many trivial things in life contribute to the fact that he is hardly angry enough over injustices in the world that merit true righteous anger? Why does one of his daughters spilling milk at dinner (again) cause his blood to boil more than the reality of someone else’s daughter not having any milk to drink because of political embargoes? Why does someone – always the same guy! – talking loudly (and always at length) in the library make him more angry than the fact that someone else cannot speak because of governmental censorship laws in another country?

If, as one of Learner's recent authors writes, “anger reminds us that we do not live in utopia,” the question begs asking: What kind of utopia must he want to live in if the reasons for his anger are so pathetically inconsequential? What does this tell him about his ideals and the extent to which he pursues them? His tendency, he says, is to act out – to make a scene, a point, or a big deal about an annoyance – making him the issue rather than the issue itself.

Sadly, he can’t say he's grown as much in this area of sanctification as he would like, and Mrs. Learner and the kids are the ones who suffer most because of his “melancholic funks”. Unfortunately, this is some of what he was taught in his youth, and some of what he learned growing up.

"Or at least," he says, "when I was growing 'older'".



Shaken AND Stirred

2007-03-02T09:22:46.591-08:00

Learner took his first exam of the semester this morning, a 185-point monster over the book of Acts. The Smiling Assassin has struck, and Learner's wondering how to stop the bleeding.

The sad part, he says, is he actually studied - 50 pages of notes, 250 pages of previously highlighted readings, a memorized outline of the 28 chapters of Acts - he studied it all.

The mistake he made was not doing the Greek translations, which, even though the Assassin said were going to be minimal on the exam, were not. (That, or he and the Assassin have two different ideas of what "minimal" means, which could very well be a possibility, as he is German.) Either way, says Learner, "Whups."

He's hoping for a big curve - a circle curve even, where the worst you do, the better you do - but that's a little optimistic, especially for him. We'll see. In the meantime, he's gearing up for starting in on Galatians tomorrow and hoping for the best.



Ordained to What?

2007-02-23T07:08:43.090-08:00

Learner is studying in the student center, semi-eavesdropping on a conversation between two visiting pastors and a graduating student about his upcoming graduation and ordination in May. The conversation goes something like this:
Student: What do I REALLY need to know for ordination exams?

Visiting pastor #1: Know where you stand on the New Perspective on Paul, Federal Vision, and paedobaptism.

Student: Anything else?

Visiting pastor #2: Don't choose to sit in the middle chair.
Maybe it's because he doesn't know (or passionately care all that much right now) where he stands on any of the above, but Learner assumes there's a consideration of the student's knowledge of Jesus as well.

But that's probably just over a coffeebreak or something.



Counseling Class Humor

2007-02-08T16:41:05.323-08:00

From Learner's Intro to Counseling class this evening:
"Neurotics build castles in the air.
Psychotics live in them.
Psychiatrists collect the rent."
Nothing funnier than depression humor, says Learner.



Hammy, Sting, and the Smiling Assassin

2007-02-03T06:22:36.722-08:00

Rather than explain my past month-and-a-half absence from chronicling the life and times of Learner, I'm pleased to report that he has begun a new semester, one he is enjoying for a variety of reasons, not the least of them being that he has class with three new professors he has not had before. The reading is heavy (at least in terms of volume), and the writing will be likewise, but hearing new voices and experiencing new teaching styles in communicating the content is a needed refreshment, he says.

Each of his new professors has a distinct style and personality, and Learner (who is far too aware of such things), has (lovingly) identified their more famous counterparts: Hammy, Sting, and the "Blond Bond" (also known on campus as "the Smiling Assassin").

Hammy teaches Reformation & Modern Church History, is young, and, by his own admission (and like his hyperactive namesake from the movie, Over the Hedge), could benefit from taking a handful of quaalude sedatives before teaching in his hyperactive way. Still, he's smart, loves baseball (always a plus in Learner's book), and is obviously passionate about his subject.

Sting teaches Learner's Intro to Counseling Class, is quite refined, and speaks with a British accent. Learner says he keeps waiting for the VH-1 Behind the Music crew to show up and chronicle Sting's newest creative endeavor - teaching biblical counseling at a U.S. seminary - but that hasn't happened yet. In the meantime, Learner says, he keeps looking for a stanza or two from "Message in a Bottle" in the course notes, but he hasn't found it.

The Blond Bond/Smiling Assassin teaches Acts & Paul, is a native German who speaks fluent English, and, says Learner, is an incredible lecturer who carries himself as more of an international academic (which he is). Impressed with both his handle on English as well as Greek, Learner is sure he must speak at least 10 other languages fluently as well as part of his covert training from the CIA, MI-6, and whatever the German equivalent of special ops is.

As he always does, Learner takes great pleasure in spending the first day(s) of class painstakingly entering every single assignment into his organizational system, dividing reading assignments across the weeks of the semester, taking note of when papers are due, and ensuring that any quizzes or exams are on his calendar. This easily takes a good couple of hours to do, but once entered, Learner lives and breathes by this system, which seems to have served him well so far.

There's nothing quite like a new semester, he says, referencing the shelf of new required reading and syllabi and notes he's already taken in the week of classes he's already had. Thankfully, his schedule seems to be a little more conducive to bigger blocks of study time, and he has so far made good use of those chunks, investing them in the library reading and marking in his new study carrell upstairs.

While he tries to study in a new place each semester so he doesn't get in a rut, Learner says he does have affections for certain locations and, when the paper writing begins, he'll probably mosey back downstairs to his favorite Reference table, as even when the library is full, rarely does anyone sit there because of the "Reference" sign hanging above it. It's a little thing - thinking that sign marks his own, personal "reserved" spot (sort of like having a "regular table" in his favorite restaurant) - and each time Learner walks by and no one happens to be sitting there, he smiles to himself, happy.

Suffice it to say, Learner's new professors aren't the only interesting ducks in the seminary pond...



When Did Women Become an "Issue"?

2006-12-13T07:24:31.363-08:00

From a one-page reflection Learner turned in for his Epistles class:
Whether you are a traditionalist or an evangelical feminist, describe how you believe women should use their gifts in the church effectively in the church today.

My experience with women in ministry has been primarily within a parachurch organization rather than a church. As a result, I am not uncomfortable with the idea of women leading men (at least within parachurch ministries), though I would say I am traditional in my perspective of men being theological leaders within the church.

That said (and perhaps blending my parachurch experiences with my church theology), I think there is much more room for women to use their gifts in the church today than they perhaps have opportunity to do so. I appreciate our church’s efforts to incorporate women into the worship service (formal welcome at the beginning; reading the Scriptures; leading musical numbers; co-teaching with men on topics that are more relational than purely theological). In addition, our church is reinstating the role of “deaconess” in 2007, a move which I think is great for meeting crisis needs women in the church might have through a woman trained and commissioned to deal with them.

The key to allowing strong women gifted in the area of leadership is to ensure that strong men are positioned to provide leadership for them. The women in the New Testament were strong women, but there was no question that Paul, Peter, and the other apostles were equipped, confident, and over them in a leadership function and role. I think this fits both biblically as well as experientially, and I hope that my generation can do more to strike a happy medium in which men are fulfilling their roles within the church so women can as well.
It's a little short and under-developed, but you get the gist.



Language Day from Hell

2006-12-11T17:07:09.510-08:00

Learner has spent a majority of the day (and is continuing this evening) in the arena of the biblical languages of Greek and Hebrew. Beginning at 5:30 a.m. this morning and running until (he guesses) approximately 10 p.m. tonight with nary a break in between, he has been reading both right to left and left to right en masse.

If you know anything about Learner and languages, you know today has not been a fun one. One week to go before semester's end.



Real Theological Heroes

2006-12-07T06:23:12.039-08:00

Learner thought this anonymous submission to the seminary's bi-weekly newsletter was pseudo-clever. It's a play off the Bud Light's "Real Men of Genius/Real American Hero" radio commercials. (I've edited the lyrics slightly to protect our locational anonymity):
The seminary presents real theological heroes
Today we salute you First Year Seminary Student.
FIRST YEAR SEMINARY STUDENT!

You answered the call, now you're reading The Call.
Soon you'll learn things you never thought could be learned:
parsing Greek, reading books, and oh, drinking lots of coffee.

Where there's a personality test, you'll take it.
A genitive, you'll parse it.
An FCF, you'll find it.
FALLEN CONDITION FOCUS!

So crack open that Metzger lexicon, oh master of the Divine languages. It may be Greek to you now, but someday you'll get it.

First Year Seminary student.....

The Seminary, Somewhere in the Midwest
Granted, he says, it loses a bit (okay, a lot) in the Web replication, but if you've heard the commercials, you can imagine it.



At Last

2006-12-05T08:50:34.536-08:00

From the seminary's student portal (and much to Learner's delight):
"Cell phone users need to avoid disturbing others who are studying in the Library. Please be considerate by turning down or off the phone’s 'ring' and going to a place away from others, such as a stairwell, to carry on your conversation. If you are disturbed by cell phones and, for whatever reason, do not want to accost those disturbing you, please alert a library staff member."
"It's about time," says Learner.



Gratitude

2006-12-02T13:26:33.293-08:00

Good news: Learner has decided to continue with the M.Div., raising support for another six months (and no longer), and finding full-time employment come summer (and probably dropping to part-time student status). The reduced school hours will most likely mean having to move off-campus, but as the winter months are now here and the three-bedroom apartment feels ever smaller on a daily basis, that may not be all that bad a thing in the end. He just hates moving.

On a different note, Learner is fundraising not only for himself, but also for the seminary. A month ago he received this email:
As stewards of the gifts from those who give money to the seminary for student scholarships, we in the Financial Aid Office often hear your thanks and appreciation for the financial assistance you receive. While we delight to hear it, we would like those who donate the money to receive thanks as well. Therefore, we are asking that you write a thank you letter, telling something about yourself and your future plans, which will be given to one of the seminary’s donors.
And then, for added motivation:
You may have noticed that a "thank you hold" has been placed on your student account. When we receive your letter, the hold will be removed. Please turn it in to the Financial Aid Office to insure that you will be able to receive your scholarship for the January and Spring terms. Also, you will not be able to do online registration in January if the hold is still on your account.
So, a week late, here's what Learner finally sat down and wrote:
Dear Friend of the Seminary,

On behalf of Mrs. Learner and our four children, I’d like to say thanks for your support of and contribution to the seminary.

As a family of six living here on campus, we have a few more costs than an average single or newly-married student. Here to pursue the Master of Divinity degree, we knew the financial aspect of seminary would be a difficult one, and the reality of our hunch was complicated by the fact that we had to sell our house for approximately $40,000 less than we had planned, which we had hoped to apply toward the cost of school.

While we’ve been able to raise support to cover our monthly living expenses, we would not be able to pay for school without a school loan (which we have taken out) and the 50% tuition scholarship made available by the seminary. Because of your support of the seminary, our loan amount will be considerably less than it might have been otherwise, which is a huge gift. True, we’re going to graduate with some debt, but it won’t be nearly as much as it would have been otherwise without your gift. Thank you.

We are here to “study to show ourselves approved” in hope of one day formally entering the pastorate or teaching in the high school or college classroom. We’ve been here a year-and-a-half and thoroughly enjoyed our time, as we are learning much about God, the Scriptures, the good world he created, and ourselves. It’s been all we hoped for and more.

So, thank you for your part in helping us as we pursue God’s call on our lives. We’re grateful for your contribution in the past, and trust God will enable and lead you to continue your support of the seminary in the future. Whether you feel it has or not, we know it’s made a big difference for our family.

Again, thank you.

Sincerely,

Learner (for all)
A nice letter. Granted, the "It's been all we hoped for and more" may be a little over-the-top, but Learner says donors love that stuff.



To the Nth Degree?

2006-12-01T15:10:58.633-08:00

The Thanksgiving Break is upon us, and none too soon. It seems just a few posts ago I was writing about Learner's Fall Break at the end of October. I guess that's what happens when one only posts one other time in the month of November. Time flies when you're not blogging.

As they all seem to be, this particular break is an important one as Learner has several decisions to make:

1) Do they as a family continue trying to raise support (which has dropped significantly in the past three months) in order to remain in seminary full-time? If not, does Learner get a full-time job and continue classes at a much slower pace? And because only full-time students are allowed to live on campus, where do they then live?

2) Does Learner continue to pursue the M.Div degree (3 1/2-4 years) or does he settle for the M.A.T.S. (Arts and Theological Studies), finishing up (most likely) by the end of next summer? The difference in degrees is huge (or at least seems so) in terms of post-seminary opportunties, but so is the cost involved in time, money, and Hebrew.

3) Regarding Hebrew, does Learner make a last-ditch effort to try to salvage the rest of the semester and miraculously pull it out in the end (and it would take a miracle), taking a chance on pulling a decent grade on the final and with much grace from his professor? Or, does he let it go and try again either in the spring or the summer?

Obviously, all of these questions are intricately related: if the M.Div is no longer an option, Hebrew doesn't need to be either (which is part - but not all - of Learner's current lack of motivation to study it). And, if the M.A.T.S. ends up being the way out, being full-time (and thus trying to raise support) doesn't seem quite as necessary either.

Big decisions. In the midst of all this, of course, is the element of calling. What is it that God wants? Learner's best attempt at answering that question falls along these lines:
1) SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT OF PEOPLE - Share people’s struggles about the Christian faith and help them reflect on beliefs, concerns, doubts regarding Christian understanding of spiritual dimensions of life.

2) TEACHING RESPONSIBILITY - Accept an active teaching role, interpreting and teaching the Scriptures, theological concepts, history of church/current events.

3) ADMINISTRATIVE LEADERSHIP - Accept administrative responsibilities in climate of delegated tasks and shared leadership; others encouraged to use skills.

4) PROCLAMATION OF THE WORD - The word of God is communicated with urgency and conviction, bringing it to bear on the changing needs of individuals, the community, and the world.

5) DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING - Emphasis on training people in basics of spiritual growth to be disciplemakers.

6) ENCOURAGING MINISTRY OF THE LAITY - Creative ideas/directions developed; many with appropriate skills stimulated to become involved in service.
That said, Thanksgiving comes at a good time for Learner and company. They'll get some time on the farm, be with family, and hopefully Learner and the Lord can go for a long walk (or even a couple of them) as he tries to discern what God is saying.

If you pray, do so. And, if you have any thoughts you'd like Learner to consider, email them to me and I'll see that he gets them.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.



Post-Seminary

2006-12-11T17:03:36.638-08:00

Latest in Learner's category of "what post-seminary will one day be like": reading books without highlighter in hand.



Boat Trip on the River Denial?

2006-10-28T09:26:45.953-07:00

Just got an email from Learner. Apparently, their trip so far is all they had hoped it would be (quiet, relaxing, enjoyable), but not all is peaches and cream. He writes:
"Not great news from our church - apparently we're $1,200 in deficit over the past three months in terms of our support raising. In addition, we're barely a third of the way for November's paycheck. This is not good.

For the first time in a while, Mrs. Learner and I lamented our financial situation, and for the first time in a very long while, I detected some fear within myself as to how any of this will work out, both in the long- and short-terms. We talked of how we could get out from under the fundraising burden, but there seems little way to do this without quitting school, and doing that cuts off the degree that would seemingly open the doors to what I think/hope I'm actually able to do.

It all suddenly seems to futile, and I wonder if we'll be able to finish this school year, let alone the M. Div. track I'm on. For the first time, I heard myself say that that was okay, too, which raises all kinds of questions as to how much to fight for this and how much to just let it go, get a paying job of some kind, and finish out life at least being able to pay bills.

As I was relating some of this to a friend here (good visit, by the way), he said that I should try to start something. His suggestion made me wonder what happened to my once-entrepreneurial spirit? Maybe realism set in or I just got lazy, but I haven't seen that side of me for some time. And even if I had the itch, I'm not sure where to scratch - what can I do that would be both fulfilling and something someone would pay me to do? It seems that most of my life, I've never been able to line those two things up very well, if at all.

What does God have for us? How much of this is his problem and how much of it is mine? What am I missing here and how am I to proceed? Is it true that "where God guides, he provides" or not? Is the question one of provision or of guidance? Are we out of his will (whatever that means?), or just not doing it correctly? What is he asking us to do? How are we to respond?"
From the sound of things, he's more confused than depressed (though it's never a long trip between the two). I think he knows they'll come out of this and look back on it with good stories one day, but it's always more difficult to make sense of things in the midst of trial than on the backside of it. And where they are is in the midst of it.



In Dire Need of Fall Break

2006-10-24T10:21:11.273-07:00

In roughly 24 hours, Learner will be on fall break - namely no classes on Thursday and Friday, with Saturday and Sunday off as well. And, he says, it won't be too soon.

While it's not like the professors withhold assignments or promise no quizzes the following week, two days with no classes (even if he only has one each on those two days, both at 8 a.m.) is a good thing. The grind of attending class, trying to pay attention, and actually learn something can take more of a toll than he sometimes realizes. Learner says it will be nice to have four straight days out of a classroom.

The break gives Learner and his family a chance to get away, which they are planning to do with a five-hour trip to a new city they've not visited before. Their plan is to stay at a beautiful house that belongs to friends who (unfortunately) are going to be out of town for the weekend. Learner is planning to read during the drivetime, in hopes of being able to really relax when they arrive at their destination. Like Mrs. Learner (who is almost giddy with excitement about getting away), he is very much looking forward to the time...and counting the hours until they depart.

Learner asked if I wanted to accompany the family, but I declined. Sometimes I wonder if Mrs. Learner is a bit weary of me, as I always seem to be wherever Learner is. In an effort to be sensitive to that, I thanked him for the invitation, told him to have a good time, and assured him that I'd just be with him in spirit.



Midterm Time

2006-10-24T07:31:39.426-07:00

In case you haven't figured out by my lack of posts of late reporting on Learner's seminary experiences, it's midterm time. When I last asked him for an update, he assured me there's plenty of good material coming, but it would have to wait due to a few select projects and exams, as well as a stack of papers from others to grade. His semester isn't particularly overwhelming this fall (3 classes, 10 hours), but he has a few other irons in the fire that seem to have complicated things a bit (more on those later).

In the meantime, I can happily report that in Learner's rematch with Hebrew, he got the better of his opponent, scoring an 88 on the midterm. Twenty-eight points improvement from the summer did his heart good, and he's enjoying the language (and working at it as well) much more than he did in the summer. He knows it's going to get harder and more complex as he goes, but at least he's got an anchor point of a respectable score to work from now.



Rematch

2006-10-09T09:38:14.206-07:00

Today at 12:30, Learner faces his nemesis from the summer: the Hebrew mid-term. He tried to transliterate what payback was, but while sharper than its ever been, his vocab is still limited.



A (Long) Lament for the Church

2006-09-26T22:03:54.850-07:00

Taken from Learner's journal entry, written as part of the seminary's annual day of prayer this morning:
"God, here I am with another complaint, yet one that is near to your heart (and becoming more so to mine). I don't desire to whine, but that's all I seem to do after I make such a qualification. Hear me, God, and understand my heart.

I'm weary, Jesus, of your ugly bride - of her inadequacies, of her incompetencies, of her indecency. I'm weary of how your grace covers a multitude of her sins when, frankly, a little more of your wrath (or at least your discipline) might seem to bring about faster change. I'm weary of how your bride is little more than a whore in a wedding dress, and how that seems to bother me more than it does you.

I'm tired of your chosen companion to whom you have committed yourself - she is self-absorbed, completely clueless, and driving me crazy with her wedding plans. If you would just set a date and get married already, then maybe you would be able to (finally) get her under control.

She is rude, Jesus - and arrogant, too, so much so that everything she does is tainted with pride and a lack of honest reflection and communication with you. How can you allow this to go on? Does it not bother you that excellence and beauty are of little concern to her? Are you not aware of how poorly she does everything and is either unaware or unconcerend with her performance? Are you even aware or concerned with her performance? Sometimes I wonder.

Does it not bother you, the words she puts in your mouth? The assumptions she makes? The lack of concern she seems to exhibit for what you have always said you cared about? Does it not bother you that she is flirtatious and easily distracted by other suitors? That she is a gossip? That she is both a prostitute and a prude, depending on who's watching?

And to think, you are still engaged to her after all this time! Why? How can you love her - care for her - think of her with any kind of hope for change in your heart? How can who she is be worthy of who you are? And why am I so offended and almost sorry for the fact that you are so in love with her? She doesn't at all seem your type or on your level.

And yet you are in love with her - you say you are, you show you are, you're sure you are. You're not ashamed of her (or at least you don't seem to be), and you've yet to reconsider your commitment to her (at least not that I know of). You've lain down your life for her and put your reputation (which, in most circles, is quite good when it's apart from her) on the line by not just associating with her, but by being her beau.

And you're patient with her, both now and presumably in the future. And while I don't even begin to understand that, I admire you for it. I want to try to understand, and I want to try to love her the way you love her (though I may not always know why). I know you love her, and that must mean she's worth loving - or maybe she's not, but you do anyway.

Forgive me for my critique; for my own unloveableness; for my own unwillingness to love. Help me love that which you do - in the way you do - to the degree you do.

And send me an invite to the wedding. As much as it's hard to believe, I want to be there when you two finally get hitched."



Happiness Is...

2006-09-23T10:17:37.176-07:00

Learner and I went to a bachelor party for a guy he mentored last school year (he gets married today). The party was at Learner's associate pastor's apartment and, after everyone had arrived, then moved to the roof of the 17-story building for drinks and stogies.

While Learner's not one for cigars, he did say that happiness is having an associate pastor who makes the world's greatest gin and tonic.



Writing and the Seminary Experience

2006-09-19T17:35:08.253-07:00

Learner is desperately trying to work through a set of papers he is to grade for the seminary's Spiritual and Ministry Formation summer class. While the occasional paper stands out, in general, the writing overall is somewhat lacking.

When I ask him to clarify, his list is as follows:
- poor spelling and missing words
- typos and inconsistent spacing
- lack of structure and logical flow of thought
- little to no documentation of sources quoted
- little to no practical or personal application
In the midst of reading the papers, Learner said there is one positive aspect he can think of: "It's a safe bet nobody's plagiarizing," he said.



Changes Sequel

2006-09-15T06:41:08.740-07:00

Learner got semi-rebuked this morning by the chapel coordinator (I'll call her "Fortissima") for his chapel attendance observations, which I shared in my previous post.

"Could it be," she asked, "that attendance is up because of purposeful changes we've made in chapel - adding student testimonies, including more students and their musical gifts - rather than just because of increased student numbers and that it's early in the semester?"

Learner was surprised by Fortissima's reproach, mostly because he was dumbfounded someone had actually read his thoughts here and had confronted him with them in real life.

Looks like I'm going to have to work even harder to get anything out of him now, especially now that he knows we actually have readers.

And looks like he's for sure going to chapel later this morning.



Changes

2006-09-14T18:09:49.703-07:00

The weather seems to be changing and Learner and the family are very much enjoying the temperature difference of late. Though the trees have yet to drastically change their color, it won't be long now, and Learner has been in a particularly good mood recently anticipating this transition.

Other changes he's noticed:
- Hebrew (the second time around) isn't so bad. Granted, he hasn't gotten to the place yet where he began to really fall off the wagon the first time, but his sense of calm with the rehashed material at a slightly slower pace has made him feel more at peace.

- In general, his reading is more but less, as a majority of his books are more popular/practical than academic/theological this semester. While he still is required to read a few books he won't try to start before he goes to bed, he has many more that move down to the next level and begin to draw more modern applications.

- Class sizes seem larger this year than last, both in classes he's had as well as in the ones he has, and he's not particularly happy about that fact. Several times he's had flashbacks to courses in college in which he could become quite anonymous, do the readings and homework, pass the exams, and never really have a conversaton with the professor. This, he says, is not what grad school/seminary is supposed to be.

- More people are attending chapel this year than last, but that may be because 1) there are more people enrolled (as mentioned above); and 2) it's still September, a month or so before the big projects are due.
He wonders: if the attendance changes back, is that really a change?

I tell him to get back to Hebrew and stop analyzing everything.



Learner the Emotional Adolescent

2006-09-06T05:05:48.400-07:00

Learner just took the Emotional/Spiritual Health Inventory from Peter Scazzero's book, The Emotionally Healthy Church, which he is reading for his Marriage and Family Counseling class. According to the test (as found on pages 60-66 in the book), Learner says he's an official "emotional adolescent" (as opposed to an emotional infant, child, or adult), the definition of which is:

"Like a physical adolescent, I know the right ways I should behave in order to 'fit in' mature, adult society. I can feel threatened and alarmed inside when I am offered constructive criticism, quickly becoming defensive. I subconsciously keep records on the love I give out, so I can ask for something in return at a later time. When I am in conflict, I might admit some fault in the matter, but I will insist on demonstrating the guilt of the other party, proving why they are more to blame. Because of my commitment to self-survival, I have trouble really listening to another person's pain, disappointments, or needs without becoming preoccupied with myself."

I assured him that, while there may be a few true themes, the results weren't quite as overarchingly accurate as he perhaps thought. He conceded my point, saying that in a few categories (looking beneath the surface, breaking the power of the past, living in brokenness and vulnerability), he actually scored on the low end of adulthood.

"Not bad for a 35-year-old," he said.