Archive for December, 2005|Monthly archive page
Learner (who is less than 12 hours away from taking his last final of the semester) and I were talking earlier today, marveling at how the past ten days have felt like a year and a minute at the same time. It seems between then and now, he has somehow successfully met all his deadlines without failing anything (at least to the degree he knows), and he’s now fighting his desire to blow off this last exam and declare the mid-semester holiday officially begun.
Life on a seminary campus this time of the semester is quite interesting. For instance, Learner has certainly noticed fellow students becoming more sociable with each exam taken. As a result, Learner and Mrs. Learner have enjoyed some added time with others this weekend, though it’s been a bit tricky as they themselves are not completely finished with their exams and have had to weigh their extroversion with their need to study (surprisingly, their need to study seems to have lost).
Another observation regarding a semester’s end is that it’s very difficult to talk about anything non-school related with others as everyone seems so overwhelmed by their building academic pressures. Learner hates this, but confesses that he fell into the trap more than a few times, both out of a habit-forming as well as a conversational necessity kind of way. In other words, one can try to bring up other topics of interest, but no one seems to have many others at this point in the semester. This, Learner thinks, is both understandable and sad.
Personally, the last 6-7 weeks (for it really has been crunch time since the beginning of November) have been good for Learner. He tends to function well under deadline and the need to focus, and does even better when everyone else is making a bigger deal of things than he himself normally would. Sure, he’s given to extremity in terms of processing at times, but that gets held in check when someone else is being more ridiculous than he would even be.
Regarding his grades for the semester, here are his predictions:
– Greek in Exegesis: B-/C (yes, believe it or not, he should pass)
– Preparation and Delivery of Sermons: A
– Theology of Prayer: A
– Covenant Theology: A-/B+ (depending on his paper)
– Spiritual and MInistry Formation: B-/C (depending on his paper and the exam he takes tomorrow)
All in all (and considering he’s still married and his four children still recognize and love him as their father), not a bad first full semester.
For my part, I give him a B- for making it through, for dealing with some issues head on, and for being liked by many and respected by most. That said, he still has room for improvement in terms of his devotional life (i.e. finding and having a consistent one), his use of time (particularly earlier in the semester when everything is not “due”), and his friendships with friends and professors (not thinking himself a bother in interacting with them).
So yes, all in all, not a bad first full semester. As soon as the grades come back, I’ll post them here and we’ll see how accurate Learner’s evaluation really was.
Snowing hard today. Learner, having just taken his last Greek class (hopefully ever) this morning, turned in his exegetical notebook and Greek reading report, and is now spending the morning in the library basement reading technical commentaries on Matthew 5:17-20 in preparation for writing his exegetical paper this weekend.
Not one to miss out on a moment of melancholy as caused by this morning’s quiet snowfall, Learner just emailed me a haiku poem inspired by the sight:
Snow falling down, white
Like grace over human shame
One of his favorites so far, he says. Of course, this also counts for his poem prayer book project, so that makes him feel even better (he’s all about creative multi-tasking).
Below is a note Learner is turning in tomorrow with his exegetical notebook on Ephesians (which he is even now trying to finish) and his Daily Greek NT Reading Report, a chart of his attempts to read his Greek New Testament ten minutes a day, five days a week this fall semester. The killer was that no two readings could be done on the same day, and each week’s readings had to be done days in that week, with a maximum of five days credit for any one week.
What’s done is done, I suppose. Final exegetical paper due Tuesday.
Here’s the note:
You’ll forgive me if this sounds like a page of excuses; it’s meant as an explanation, but I suppose sometimes there’s little difference between the two. As you can probably tell by my Daily Greek NT Reading Report, I was not a very good member of the 10-Minute-A-Day-Club, reading only a measly 10 out of 63 possible days. I’m not proud of this, but I knew I was in trouble as soon as you handed out the sheet and gave us the assignment.
You see, whenever I try a reading program (in Greek or English), I always struggle because my obsessive-compulsive tendencies tend to work against me. How? Basically, the first time I miss a day, I’m sunk, especially when I can’t go back and “catch up” the missed dates as per your instructions. Thus, you can see I started well but missed a day that first week, after which I went downhill. I tried for a fresh start week five, but after missing a day (and seeing the empty spaces above from previous weeks), I suppose I gave up. It’s just really hard for me to finish something if I have a daily, visible reminder of the fact that it’s not going to be perfectly completed.
Part of this quirk is due to personality (INTJ); most of it is lack of grit. I regret not having done more of this assignment, not only for the sake of my grade, but especially because I wanted to do so much better in learning Greek than I feel I have this semester. Because of your teaching, I have learned so much about Greek as a language; however, because of my own failure to dig in and fight through my lack of ability (which led to my lack of desire), I feel like I have failed miserably in actually learning the Greek language.
I wanted to write you this note to apologize, as well as to let you know that I’m really trying on the exegetical paper. I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed you. Please forgive me.
PS: The reason the X’s are on the sheet is so I wouldn’t feel tempted to write down passages I didn’t read. The last thing I wanted was to add lying to my failure in completing this report.
After a stellar week last week of paper writing, reading, and taking his last Greek quiz ever, Learner is into week two of what looks to be a three-week attempt at desperately trying to stay on top and in front of the wave of momentum.
And it’s been a good start: he’s two-thirds of the way done with his exegetical notebook on the first four chapters of Ephesians (due Thursday), has pulled a majority of sources for his exegetical paper on Matthew 5:17-20 (due Tuesday), and has a killer page-and-a-half intro started on his Spiritual and Ministry Formation paper (due Tuesday). The prayer poem book is semi-laid out (though he wants to add a few more masterpieces), and he is even starting to initially think about some of the questions on various study guides for upcoming final exams (next week).
What’s not so good is he is fighting off the sniffles and the beginnings of a cold as the weather has quickly snapped cold. And, after the momentary high from last week of ace-ing his Preparation and Delivery of Sermons exam and turning in his Covenant Theology paper, it’s slow-going getting the momentum going again for another important week of work.
Momentum has always been a good thing for Learner. While he’s not particularly one to put things off, he does occasionally need some instant of energy in which he gets things started before he can really feel like he’s going. He says his philosophy has never been to fear the oncoming wave of building momentum (usually triggered by the calendar’s deadlines); at the same time, he’s not one of these guys who does the work so far ahead that it’s more work paddling out (metaphorically speaking) than it’s really worth.
Instead, Learner says his goal is to paddle out far and soon enough to catch a good wave and then, when the wave starts to build and then break, get up, focus, and stay on top and in front of the thing, riding it out for all it’s worth rather than being crushed or missing it all together by the time it hits the shore. It’s perhaps a little hard to illustrate in words, but Learner feels like the wave of momentum has crested, and these next ten days will be a wild ride to the beach.
More entries from Learner’s prayer poem project:
Have mercy on me, O God
Lest your anger be all you have to offer
If so, I’d like to see your wine menu
That I might choose the harshest grapes of wrath
Safe to Say
It’s safe to say that I am a sinner
to say otherwise would be the risk involved
But I’m finally convincing myself
or maybe You are
I was wondering, though, God
As You are judge, witness, and defense
Does my case have to involve so many others?
Seems a little crowded here in the courtroom
Last I Checked
Last I checked, I was alright
But that was only a minute ago
I should probably check again
But that would be only a minute later
And besides, I was alright
Last I checked