Because life is a series of edits

Archive for the ‘Wildwood’ Category


In Friends, Internet, Westminster, Wildwood, Writers on January 13, 2008 at 6:59 pm

As an unofficial ambassador for the blogosphere, let me introduce you to three new blogs (and the people behind them) worth your reading time in the future:

  • My Life in Sweat Pants – a good friend from my old Navigator days, Leura is a freelance editor and terrific writer (and I say that not just because she chooses to use proper grammar and punctuation on her blog) who writes, “After 14 years at the same job, I’m now a 30-something mom of four kids who suddenly finds herself unemployed and wondering what’s next.” Warm and thoughtful writing.
  • The Golden Dragon – if you’re into the fantasy genre at all, you’ll want to check out what friend and co-worker (we teach together at Westminster), L.B. Graham, is doing online. Soon to finish up his five-book Binding of the Blade fantasy series, L.B. talks about his future publishing plans, as well as shares some personal reflections on writing, faith, and life. Insightful and well-written.
  • Christocentric – friend and former co-worker (we taught together at Wildwood), Matt Heckel, has just written his first of what promises to be many posts of intellectually and philosophically-challenging topics. Matt has his PhD in Reformation Studies from Concordia, so he’s always good for a Luther story as well. Glad to see him blogging, and looking forward to post number two.

Anyway, if you would, pay these folks a visit and tell them Craig sent you. And, of course, if you’re not subscribing to Second Drafts, let me encourage you to do so through Bloglines – it will save you tons of time, and might just change your life.*

(*results vary, depending on degree of blogaholism; check with your doctor for details)

Wildwood Friends

In Wildwood on May 9, 2007 at 4:31 pm


Here’s a picture I took of my students today after our last (sniff, sniff) day of Bible class.

And here’s a picture of how I confusingly tried to help them solve all the problems of the world (or at least the ones they identified on Monday), using Psalm 1 as a hermeneutic:


Yep. That’s what they said, too. Maybe it’s a good thing today was the last day of class after all.

Wise Beyond Their Years

In Wildwood on May 8, 2007 at 2:00 am

I've got one more class with my Wildwood students on Wednesday. One more class. Granted, they have their oral final exam next Wednesday (five groups of three students for 30 minutes per group), but that will probably be more fun for me than for them.

In addition to their friendship this year, one of the things that has meant a lot to me has been the way the students have grown in and sought to apply what they've learned. For instance, here are the questions they came up with for discussion in our grand finale on Wednesday:

  • How do we live in a world of foolishness as wise men/women?
  • How do we formulate a balanced response to expected but difficult events in life?
  • How do we apply wisdom to our interaction with various forms of media (television, video games, movies, music)?
  • How do we fulfill a commitment of love in a commitment-less world?
  • How do we think critically rather than cynically/judgmentally?
  • How do we discern between what is seemingly right (public school sex education, condom distribution) with what’s biblically right?
  • How do we address the issues that are no longer considered “issues” (i.e. divorce)?
  • How do we apply wisdom to our political attitudes?
  • Is morality a means to or an outcome of change?
  • In what ways does character affect our ability/credibility to lead others?
  • What gave Solomon the right to call wisdom "vanity" in Ecclesiastes 1-2?

Anybody recognize these questions from when you were 15-18? Me neither.

One more class together. We're for sure taking a picture. I'm going to miss them.

Wildwood Wisdom (part 2)

In Poetry, Pop Culture, Wildwood on February 27, 2007 at 2:00 am

More proverbial wisdom from my students:

"Like sunlight through a window is a man of wisdom's words:
a source of light where there is none."

"When you are in pain, go see your physician;
for the pain he inflicts upon you will replace your original agony."

"An only child is lonely,
but siblings create discord."

And here's one about a student whose place of residence is a mystery to the entire student body (his address is a P.O. box and he won't allow anyone to come over or follow him home):

"There is one whose roads are lost,
and the knowledge of house is hidden.
No one knows how to find his bed,
and he is content to drive alone.
Others may look and follow his car,
but we will never find his true address."

More to come.

Wildwood Wisdom (part 1)

In Poetry, Pop Culture, Wildwood on February 26, 2007 at 6:51 pm

I’m a week away from finishing up the book of Proverbs with my Wildwood high schoolers (we’re studying biblical wisdom literature). As part of today’s class (and with no warning and a ten-minute time limit), I asked the students to write their own proverbs. Most were really clever, and I thought I’d post some of their entries throughout the week (I’ve got a test tomorrow morning and two papers due Thursday, so blogging may be sparse this week). Here goes:

“Dogs are like children;
give them a cookie and they love you forever.”

“A wise man heats his car up before scraping ice off of it,
but a fool hastily hacks it off and cracks his windshield.”

“Like salt on a wound does too much gum ail the jaw,
but a big mouth will become useful.”

And here’s one on last night’s Oscar awards:

“My son, expecting others to make the right choices will surely lead to disappointment, but he who keeps their humanity in mind will not be caught off guard.”

More tomorrow.

On Teachers and Teaching

In Seminary, Theologians, Wildwood on January 13, 2007 at 9:29 am

My kind of weekend: intensive January term class on prophecy with visiting prof, Dr. Richard Pratt of Third Millennium Ministries (check out the website – way cool vision); teaching tomorrow morning at Memorial on leadership (specifically how being a good follower is key to being a good leader); and digging into Proverbs to prep for class with my high schoolers.

Combine all this with a nice, dreary drizzle forecasted for most of the weekend, and it might as well be heaven (minus, of course, the still-obvious presence of sin, not to mention the periodic on/off flickering lights due to ice on the power lines). But I digress…

Dr. Pratt is a pretty amazing teacher who makes good use of audio/visual media without overdoing it. It’s obvious he also know his stuff on the prophets, and I was encouraged by both his scholarship and his biblical commitments trumping his solid Reformed perspectives.

Don’t get me wrong: for my two cents, Reformed theology is and always has been far and away the superior systematic in so many ways, but every man-made system has its limits, and Dr. Pratt is not only unafraid to say so, but seems bent on teaching it as part of his pedagogy.

Perhaps the other encouragement for me last night was how helpful and affirming his review of Old Testament history was, especially having just taught so much of it last semester at Wildwood. There are few things worse than realizing after the fact that something you taught someone else was actually wrong (or perhaps even worse – not quite right); thus, going into the class, I was somewhat prepared to have to revise some of my notes afterward, not so much for having wrong data, but for botching the interpretation of it in some way.

Thankfully (at least so far), my study and teaching seem to be lining up with Dr. Pratt’s take on things. Granted, there were a couple of important aspects that I did not emphasize as much as I perhaps should have, but there also was no real heresy I was guilty of either. For that, I was and am very thankful.

Of course, I was only in class three hours last night. We’ll see how my notes stand up after seven hours today.

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1

Freaks me out every time I read it…

The Way of Wisdom

In Wildwood on January 9, 2007 at 2:00 am

Today I started my second semester teaching at Wildwood. The topic? Biblical wisdom literature (Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes, with some Psalms thrown in for good measure). I'm pumped.

Two texts (among others) I'll be using to prep for this class are The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job & Ecclesiastes by Derek Kidner and Old Testament Parallels: Laws and Stories from the Ancient Near East by Victor H. Matthews and Don C. Benjamin. Here are the details from the syllabus:

The intent of Wildwood’s Bible class is to be a stand-alone study and support apologetic for Wildwood’s Humanities class (which this year is studying Antiquity), to look at how the Old Testament treats the common matters of life specifically in the Wisdom books. Our purpose is to reflect on what the wise life is, how it looked to the ancient Israelites, and how it looks (or should look) today.

Discussion will cover how to view wisdom, how to study wisdom, how to approach the ancient wisdom books (comparing bits and pieces from the surrounding cultures), and will address a variety of subjects including money, marriage, work, power and rulership, speech, sex and sexuality, rearing children, commerce, self-discipline, drink, eating, use of wealth, anger, disappointment…basically all the stuff that touches ordinary life.

Spring Semester
1M, 1/8: Old Testament Exam Review/Wisdom Literature Syllabus Review
1W, 1/10: Wisdom in the Ancient World
Have read: Challenge of Application/Practice of Application (handouts)

Proverbs: The Way of Wisdom
2M, 1/15: Proverbs 1-2
2W, 1/17: Application Paper Due/Proverbs 3-4

3M, 1/22: Proverbs 5-7
3W, 1/24: Quiz/Proverbs 8-9

4M, 1/29: No class/assignments – Shakespeare in a Week
4W, 1/31: No class/assignments – Shakespeare in a Week

Proverbs: The Sayings of Solomon
5M, 2/5: Proverbs 10:1-11
5W, 2/7: Proverbs 12:1-15:29

6M, 2/12: Proverbs 15:30-18
6W, 2/14: Proverbs 19-22:16

Proverbs: The Sayings of the Wise
7M, 2/19: Quiz/Proverbs 22:17-23
7W, 2/21: Proverbs 24

Proverbs: More Sayings of Solomon
8M, 2/26: Proverbs 25-26
8W, 2/28: Proverbs 27-29

Proverbs: Sayings of Agur and Lemuel
9M, 3/5: Proverbs 30-31
9W, 3/7: Application Paper Due/Review

10M, 3/12: Midterm
Job: The Narrative
10W, 3/14: Job 1-3

Job: The Speeches
11M, 3/19: Job 4-21
11W: 3/21: Application Paper Due/Job 22-31

12M, 3/26: No class – Spring Break
12W, 3/28: No class – Spring Break

Job: The Voices of Reason
13M, 4/2: Job 32-37
13W, 4/4: Job 38-42

Ecclesiastes: A Life Worth Living?
14M, 4/9: Quiz/Ecclesiastes 1-2
14W, 4/11: Ecclesiastes 3-6

Ecclesiastes: A Life Worthy of God
15M, 4/16: Ecclesiastes 7-9
15W, 4/18: Ecclesiastes 10-12

Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes: Compared, Contrasted, Integrated
16M, 4/23: Quiz/TBA
16W, 4/25: Application Paper Due/TBA

17M, 4/30: 40-Hour Presentations
17W, 5/2: 40-Hour Presentations

Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes: Today
18M, 5/7: Wisdom and the Modern World
18W: 5/9: Key Sentence Paper Due/Review

19M, 5/14: No class
19W: 5/16: No class – Final

Whirlwind Weekend

In Family, Places & Spaces, Seminary, Wildwood on December 11, 2006 at 8:34 pm

As of tonight’s General and Pastoral Epistles class, it’s officially Finals Week. Thank the Maker.

Whether in college or in seminary, I’ve always loved Finals Week, not because I’m a particularly good test-taker (I’d say I’m average), but because there’s freedom to really read and study with the majority of assignments done (or almost so). I’ve only got a 5-page paper to write, ten pages of Greek translations to do (some of which I’m going to knock out this evening), and two finals to prepare for and take between now and the 19th. Glory, hallelujah.

However, before I get started on all that, I wanted to update you on one of the more social weekends we’ve had in a long time. Wildwood’s annual Christmas concert was last Thursday night and was musically amazing (though no pic to show for it).


Friday night was the One Night Under the Star Christmas Banquet I helped produce. Here I am – in 1956 sepia tone – with buddy and budding Vegas star, Tom Rubino, who stole the show with his performance of “The Rubino Man” a la Billy Joel’s “The Piano Man”, which we re-wrote as a tribute to/roast of our Covenant professors. (For something completely different, click here for the Student Council version of the Ocean’s 11 soundtrack that I edited together for a dessert-serving background – it’s 7:30 minutes long and 8.6 MB. The script and voices are Covenant Seminary‘s Dean of Students, Mark Dalbey, and Student Council President, Ryan Anderson.)


Saturday afternoon saw my folks come down from the farm in Illinois for the St. Louis Children’s Choir concert and my two oldest daughters’ debut at Powell Symphony Hall.


They (along with 500 other kids) put on a very well-done 2 1/2-hour concert, ending with one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs, “All Is Well” by Michael W. Smith).

Sunday morning was church and Sunday evening was Vespers at Memorial (sorry, no pics).

In the midst of all this running around, I studied a little bit, slept a little less, and signed a one-year lease on the house we’re going to start renting at the end of the month. Needless to say, Megan has big plans for my life in between study sessions as she’s a packing mama. Our landlord has graciously allowed us the entire month to move in before officially starting the lease on January 1. Thus, in addition to the books, I’ll be lifting a lot of these in the near future:


Despite the lack of classes, it’s going to be another full week. Oh, and our tenth anniversary is Thursday, so I’ve got something special planned for Megan (and miraculously, she hasn’t coaxed it out of me yet). I’ll post details (and probably a picture or two) later this week. In the meantime, I’ll happily entertain your guesses as to what it is, as well as any suggestions as to what else I can do to show my appreciation for her staying married to me for ten years.

Today I Become My Students’ Least Favorite Teacher

In Wildwood on September 20, 2006 at 2:00 am

In case you've been following along, you know we've made it through the Pentateuch and are almost to the Promised Land (not bad for a month). Here's what I'm handing out to my high school students today at the end of Bible class (papers are due November 1st, so mark your calendars and get to writing if you want full credit):

Wildwood Bible Class
Israel in the Old Testament: Research Paper
Instructor: Mr. Dunham
Fall 2006

The assignment
Explain how Deuteronomy serves and shapes Old Testament Israel in becoming and being a blessed people who are to be a blessing to others. For instance, what does Deuteronomy’s renewal of the covenant mean for Israel’s relationship with God? How does Deuteronomy’s reiteration of God’s laws for worship and conduct determine the direction of Israelite civilization? Why is the reminder of God’s blessings and curses in relation to Israel’s obedience or disobedience significant in light of the nation’s past? What does any of this have to do with Israel’s interactions with other nations, cultures, and peoples? What applications are we to make from God’s dealings with Israel? Simply put, why does Deuteronomy matter – then and now?

Preliminary step: Pray and propose. (Notecard)
Prayerfully re-read/skim Deuteronomy and identify no more than 2-3 main ideas/texts you wish to focus on in order to fulfill the assignment. Important: Students are to submit a 3×5 card on Wednesday, September 27th, on which you have written your name and initial 2-3 idea/text outline (this is simply to ensure that you get started within a week’s time).

Step one: Examine texts with guidance towards their original significance. (2 pages)
Keeping CAPTOR in mind, clarify and summarize your understanding of the original setting and purpose of the texts. How do your texts serve the overarching purpose of God’s intention for Israel? How do the texts address opportunities and needs in the original audience? End step two by writing a 1- or 2-sentence summary of the original significance of the story.

Step two: Come under coaching of Christian interpreters who have studied the texts. (1 page)
Examine the ways in which significant interpreters have commented on the texts. Although not of the same authority as biblical elaborations, legitimate applications of Scripture have been made throughout the history of the church as God’s people have summarized the teaching of Scripture to face the problems and opportunities of their day. It’s always good to read others.

Step three: Summarize texts’ original significance and suggest modern application. (2 pages)
Drawing upon your summaries – of the texts’ original significance, its place in the overall story of the Pentateuch, and applications of its teaching about the character of God and his people – how would you summarize Deuteronomy’s value in addressing Israel’s needs? How might your study apply to New Testament Israel (i.e. the Church) today?

Specs and use of sources
Research papers should be typed in a standard 12-point typeface and double-spaced, with one-inch margins, and approximately 5 pages in length. Overall neatness, spelling, grammar, pagination, etc. counts, so proofread your paper (or have someone else proofread it) and staple in the upper lefthand corner.

Students are to consult a minimum of 3 outside sources (see the syllabus or Mr. Dunham for recommendations). Please document your sources and any quotations Turabian style in either footnote or endnote form and include a “works cited” sheet/bibliography. Do NOT use or include website research, as Internet sources are transient and difficult to assess.

You have six weeks to complete your research paper. Papers are due at the beginning of class on Wednesday, November 1st, and worth 25% of your overall grade.

(Note: Hermeneutical process paper steps borrowed and adapted from Covenant Seminary).

Words to Study By

In Seminary, Wildwood on September 6, 2006 at 2:00 am

I've only heard myself make one of these excuses with any kind of regularity this past year (feel free to post your guess), but if you're a student, here's a list of "no sympathy" lines to seriously consider with regard to your studies. Most of this professor's responses are more gracious than mine ("Suck it up.") to myself and my high school students, so I should probably work on that.

(Hat tip to Anne for the link).

Nation of Israel (in a Semester)

In Wildwood on August 28, 2006 at 12:14 pm

As promised (and after way too much time spent on it – i.e. since the end of July), here’s the plan for the fall Bible class I’m teaching at Wildwood Christian School. The class begins this afternoon. If you’ve got nothing better to do the next four months, why not study along with us?

The intent of Wildwood’s Bible class is to be a stand-alone study and support apologetic for Wildwood’s Humanities class, which this year is studying Antiquity – the development of civilization from the Flood to the Incarnation. By comparing various ancient civilizations, their structures, governments, arts, significant figures, and religious practices with those of ancient Israel, we will trace Israel’s development from a loose confederation of tribes to a monarchy to a divided monarchy to the dispersion throughout Persia.

This study will include various internal and external historical touchstones (Mesopotamian leaders/events, Egyptian leaders/events), as well as key aspects of the Covenant and Israel’s growing (or declining) relationship with God, understanding why Israel was (and was to be) different from other civilizations. In addition, the class will have as its secondary purpose establishing some fundamentals of Bible study. We will briefly discuss the basics of hermeneutical methods, but will primarily achieve this goal through the practice and usage of methods and principles, honing our skills as well use them.

1M, 8/28: Overview/Expectations/Syllabus/Q&A/Approaching the Scriptures
1W, 8/30: Understanding Literary/Historical Context; Analyzing Narrative; Developing Themes; Making Application
Have read: “Observing What Is There” by Daniel M. Doriani (handout)
Have skimmed: Genesis 12-25
Reflection Paper #1 Assigned

Origins and Exodus of Israel
2M, 9/4: No class – Labor Day
2W, 9/6: Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph; Emancipation – Moses, Pharaoh, Passover, Sinai (Genesis-Exodus)
Have read/skimmed: Genesis 26-50; Exodus 1-20:21
Reflection Paper #1 Due

Instruction of Israel
3M, 9/11: Quiz #1/Wanderings and Preparation
Have read/skimmed: Exodus 23:20-24:18; 32-34; Numbers 1-14; 20:2-13;
27:12-23; 33:50-56
Have memorized: Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20:1-11)

3W, 9/13: Worship and Offerings
Have read: Deuteronomy 1-18
Have skimmed: Leviticus 1-10

Instruction of Israel
4M, 9/18: Law and Justice
Have read: Deuteronomy 19-26
Have skimmed: Leviticus 11-24

4W, 9/20: Covenant and Jubilee
Have read: Deuteronomy 27-34
Have skimmed: Leviticus 25-27
Research Paper Assigned

Premonarchic Israel
5M, 9/25: Canaan Occupation
Have read/skimmed: Joshua
5W, 9/27: Judges
Have read/skimmed: Judges
Reflection Paper #2 Assigned

United Monarchy
6M, 10/2: Quiz #2/Samuel, Saul, David
Have read/skimmed: 1 Samuel
6W, 10/4: David
Have read/skimmed: Ruth, 2 Samuel 1-1 Kings 2:12
Reflection Paper #2 Due

United Monarchy
7M, 10/9: No class – Columbus Day
7W, 10/11: Solomon
Have read/skimmed: 1 Kings 2:13-11:43

8M, 10/16: Review
8W, 10/18: Midterm

Division of the Monarchy/Kingdom
9M, 10/23: Jeroboam-Rehoboam
Have read/skimmed: 1 Kings 11-14
9W: 10/25: Abijah-Ahab, Amos
Have read/skimmed: 1 Kings 15-16:28; Amos

Kings and Prophets
10M, 10/30: Quiz #3/Ahab, Elijah
Have read/skimmed: 1 Kings 16:29-22
10W, 11/1: Ahaziah, Elisha
Have read/skimmed: 2 Kings 1-8
Research Paper Due

Kings and Prophets
11M, 11/6: Student Presentations/Jehu-Athalia
Have read/skimmed: 2 Kings 9:16-11:20
11W, 11/8: Student Presentations/Joash-Hoshea
Have read/skimmed: 2 Kings 11:21-17:41; Jonah; Micah

Kings and Prophets
11M, 11/13: Student Presentations/Hezekiah
Have read/skimmed: 2 Kings 18-20; Isaiah
11W, 11/15: Student Presentations/Manasseh-Amon
Have read/skimmed: 2 Kings 21; Hosea; Obadiah; Micah; Nahum

12M, 11/20: Student Presentations/Josiah-Zedekiah
Have read/skimmed: 2 Kings 22-25; Zephaniah; Habakkuk
12W, 11/22: Student Presentations/Kings Review
Have read/skimmed: None

Exile Among the Nations
13M, 11/27: Quiz #4/Babylon
Have read/skimmed: Joel, Ezekiel
13W, 11/29: Persia
Have read/skimmed: Daniel; Zechariah; Haggai; Malachi
Reflection Paper #3 Assigned

14M, 12/4: Glory Days Revisited
Have read/skimmed: 1 Chronicles
14W, 12/6: Divided Days Revisited
Have read/skimmed: 2 Chronicles; Jeremiah; Lamentations
Reflection Paper #3 Due

15M, 12/11: Review
15W, 12/13: Final

Overall Workload
• Four quizzes
• Three 1-page reflection papers
• One 5-page (11th-12th graders)/3-page (9th-10th graders) research paper/presentation
• One written mid-term
• One oral group final
• Weekly Bible readings