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Showing posts from December, 2011

Weekly Gratitude #2

Is it a new week?  I don't know.  But I am feeling grateful today and felt like making it known to the world.

Greer's brother and sister-in-law have been so encouraging over the past few weeks, and the other day Erin reminded me that the best antidote for anxiety is thankfulness.  So as I sit here with many pages left to write and rapidly waning time in which to write them, it's worth it to take a minute to say this important thing:

I am thankful today that I got to come to grad school in the first place.  I've written two papers and taken one final so far, and while I sacrificed a lot of sleep and quality of life for them, they all showed me how much I have learned in the past few months.  My exegesis paper about Hagar and Ishmael and cramming for my Old Testament final were particularly draining, but as soon as I put my pencil down after the exam, it hit me that I have learned a ton in that class about how many different ways people have read the Bible.  I will neve…

A Bigger Screen

As I sit here and write, write, write, I keep wishing my computer had a bigger screen.  I keep having to shuffle windows around and scroll up and down my documents and I am getting frustrated.

As I was reading my Derrida article, it actually made me laugh out loud - getting a "bigger screen" is exactly what deconstruction tries to do.  This is from an article I am using called "Derrida and Nihilism" by Hugh Rayment-Pickard from a book called Deconstructing Radical Orthodoxy:


"Derrida is not a 'sceptic' in the modern sense of someone who on principle denies the possibility of positive knowledge: a chronic doubter.  Derrida points out that the ancient Greek word skepsis was a metaphor of sight and that scepticism can be understood otherwise as an attempt to broaden and intensify our vision by allowing more to be seen, more to happen, than would be the case in a dogmatic mode of thought...Derrida argues that the problem with the metaphysical idea of truth…

My Apartment

I have had some requests in the past few weeks to post some photos of my apartment.  As I was going through them, I had a lot of fun looking at the way this place has evolved since I first moved here this summer.  
My mom and I flew out here in the spring to nail down my living situation.  I was mostly using Craigslist, and some of the places were so shady.  
Thank God we made this trip (mom, that was all your doing).  We saw some terrifying places that had looked fine online.  Yikes.  
When I was out here by myself for admitted student day, I stayed at a little bed and breakfast in town.  I told the wonderful owner of the B&B that I had decided to come, and she told me that her daughter worked for a leasing agent and handed me her number.  
I forgot about it until I got here, but since I always travel with the same bag I still had the number on me.  So after a really depressing day with Craigslist appointment I gave this lady a call and made an appointment for the next day. 
Car…

Weekly Gratitude

Shout out to you, Lauren Morton-Farmer!  Lauren has a wonderful blog on which she writes, among many good things, a weekly gratitude post.  I hope you don't mind, Lauren, but I am stealing the idea and want to do the same.  I think it's the best answer to any kind of stress or sadness; it's probably the virtue that is farthest from my grasp right now.  
Right now I am grateful for my friends at Yale.  I admit, there have been some lonely times here this semester  Especially lately - the sun goes down so early these days, and I find myself in my apartment alone nearly all the time it seems.  Today was a little anxiety-ridden as I calculated how many hours remain until all my papers are due and my finals must be taken (note to grad students: don't do this).  
Tonight was the Advent Party at the Divinity School.  There was a big Advent service in the chapel and then a party to follow.  Marquand chapel looked beautiful all decked out in Christmas lights and purple Advent c…

Theology By Accident

This Aquinas and Derrida paper is hard.  And today I found out that it is my TF's dissertation topic.  Great.  So I am taking on something that is challenging and ambitious for me, and the one grading my paper has been working on this topic for the past 4 years of his PhD in religious philosophy.  The probability of me saying something interesting and new to my reader just drastically decreased.  Oh well.

However: I had a little chat with Denys Turner after class today.  I am taking a reading course with him next semester where we are just going to read poetry and talk about it in theological terms, which is of course a dream come true for me.  He wanted to sit down with me to hear what it is that I want out of life so he can set up our reading list accordingly.

As a response, I told him about a conversation I recently had with my friend Junius who recently finished his PhD in theology here at Yale and is now teaching here (application for a tenure-track position is pending).  He…

The Best of All Possible Worlds

There are two reasons I start writing tons of blog posts during finals:
1) It's a way to procrastinate yet still feel I am doing something edifying
2) I am being forced to boil-down all of my ideas for my papers and exams, and all of the sudden great mysteries become succinct bloggable topics in my mind.  And I can't pass up the opportunity to record them before they disappear into Christmas sloth.  
That said, I am about to write a blog post about the single most intimidating and mystifying idea that has ever crossed my mind or anyone else's in the history of sentient beings:  the problem of evil.  So no, obviously I haven't boiled this one down to a "succinct bloggable topic," but I did have an idea in class now that stopped me in my tracks, so I want to record it. 
Our final class period for my Aquinas course was as follows:  We were presented with the question, "Is this the best of all possible worlds?" and the class was divided in two teams, ne…

Sorry, Burckhardt

It's approaching midnight and I still have 390 pages to read for tomorrow morning (my last Renaissance class of the semester, woo!), but I must take a moment to publicly disagree with Jacob Burckhardt one last time:

"The true discoverer, however, is not the man who first chances to stumble upon anything, but the man who finds what he has sought."

This is initially a compelling statement.  It instantly conjured images of the careful man, the mindful man, the intentional man; the man who doesn't just let things happen, the man who takes initiative, the man who knows well the motives for his quests.

But Aquinas says we spend our entire lives trying to figure out what it is that we really want, so I posit that nobody knows that he has found what he has sought except in a retrodiction.  I would say instead that the true discoverer is the man who takes the time to see that what he has stumbled upon by chance is in fact exactly what he sought.

To me that is the Christia…

Whan Maistrie Comth

“Whan maistrie [mastery] comth, the God of Love anon, Beteth his wynges, and farewell, he is gon.” - Chaucer, The Franklin's Tale


Paper writing season got off to a pretty slow and dreary start for me this year.  I was facing such an enormous number of pages (I have to write 90 pages in order to hit the minimum length requirement on my four term papers this semester) that it was simply too daunting to begin, and an exegesis on the expulsion of Hagar and the birth of Ishmael gave me a lot of trouble.  This joint religion-and-literature degree has me crossing disciplines a lot, which has been more trouble than I anticipated.  With my background in English, I had no idea how to speak or write as a biblical scholar, a theologian, or how to assume the historicist's voice I need in my Renaissance Italy course.  It's somewhat remarkable to see how these different disciplines can deal with the same texts, the same historical events, sometimes even the same manuscripts, and yet use e…