Seminary Update: Dec 17th, 2017

Chapter 3 has been submitted!  Hooray!

Time for a sigh of relief.  That was the big one.  Last week I did all the editing I wanted to do, plus read through the whole thing one more time (67 pages or so).  It is now in the hands of my first reader.

Chapter 4 and a conclusion to the whole thesis is due on January 25th (about 6 and a half weeks).  It should be about 25 pages.  While working on chapter 3, I occasionally thought “Oh, I should make sure to talk about such-and-such in chapter 4”.  I would then jot it down.  Right now, I have 2 (typed) pages of notes I’ve jotted down for chapter 4- basically a list of topics that I want to address.  Sort of like an expanded outline.

Last week I also got confirmation on the timings for my portfolio interview which is needed for graduation.  That will be on March 28th, 2018.

Looking Ahead:

Christmas is coming.  I consider this week to be my last “work week” before the holidays.

Goals for the week:

  • Go through the chapter 2 revisions suggested by my second reader
  • Research: Go through that last dissertation that I haven’t looked at, yet.
  • Maybe: read Jeremiah 39 in original languages; while taking more notes for chapter 4 of the thesis.

 

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Seminary Update: Dec 12th, 2017

Looking back:

Last week I worked through Jeremiah 52 in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.  I found it curious that the Septuagint did not have verses 2 and 3.  The Septuagint version of Jeremiah is shorter and skips words, phrases and verses all over the place, so this wasn’t too big of a surprise.  The curious part is that these are the verses that declare “And he [Zedekiah] did evil in the sight of the Lord like all that Jehoiakim had done”.  One of the things I’ve been writing about in my thesis on Jer 32-38 is that there is a narrative focus to help the reader consider the character of Zedekiah closely.

On Monday I finished all the revisions for chapter 3, and wrote the introduction and conclusion for the whole chapter on Tuesday.  I then sent it to my wife.  She read through it on Wednesday while I took care of other things (She’s awesome!  I love her!).  She flagged over 20 places that need clarification or reworking.

Apparently one of the issues I’ve started having is I’ve started thinking about things in abstract ways.  For example, instead of saying “Chapter 35” or “the story of the Rechabites,” I started writing just “35”.  “The rhetorical purpose of 35 is to…”  Suddenly I’m thinking in numbers instead of words, which makes those sorts of sentences harder to read.

I didn’t do anything seminary related on Thursday.  On Friday, I was surprised to receive feedback from my first reader about the comments from my second reader on chapter 2, suggesting where I could go with it, etc.  How helpful!  Meanwhile, I started working through some of my wife’s comments on chapter 3.  On Saturday I finished working through my wife’s comments for revisions and transitioned to editing mode.  I have five tables in the chapter, and started tinkering with the format to help them meet the format guide.  As well, I combed through the chapter and removed all the Hebrew accents.

Looking Ahead: Goals for the week

Timeline: The first draft of chapter 3 of the thesis needs to be submitted by this Friday (Dec 15th).

Revision mode is basically done.  This final week will be editing mode.  (In other words, I’ll assume the big picture and argumentation is fine, and am now looking at little details)

  • Continue editing tables (format, consistency, etc)
  • Check format guide for how to make lists properly
  • Edit how I quote Hebrew (consistent size- sometimes it is 16 point font, other times 14, etc?  confirm if I need to remove vowel pointing?)
  • Check for consistency in how I reference Bible verses- with a period or colon?  (Jeremiah 32:1 or 32.1)
  • Rewrite any sentences where I’m “thinking in numbers”.
  • Reread the entire chapter one last time before submitting

     

     

  • Would be nice: work on chapter 2 revisions
  • Would be nice: Continue research (still haven’t got around to that Laufer dissertation)
  • Would be nice: work through another chapter of Jeremiah in original languages (39?)

Seminary Update: Dec 3rd, 2017

Looking Back:

Monday

  • Read Jeremiah 51 in Aramaic.  There are now 8 chapters left of Jeremiah which I haven’t worked through in the ancient languages (39-45, 52).  I had originally hoped to have read Jeremiah in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic by the end of 2017.  I’m not sure I’ll make it.  It’s possible if I work through a chapter a day for the rest of December (8 chapters x 3 languages = 24 chapters), but that is low priority compared to actually writing the thesis at this point.  Chapters 39-45 will be more relevant when I’m working on chapter 4 of the thesis, so I don’t mind putting them off while I finish chapter 3.  The end of 2017 is an arbitrary deadline anyway, based purely on my own reading goals.   Of course, this would be easily accomplished if I was a full time student, but I am still involved in ministry and work and raising a family, etc., so I have to weigh seminary priorities with other commitments.  Seminary study time is limited.
  • Wrote about irony in Jeremiah 32-38.  This was more of a sampling.  Irony in Jeremiah could probably be a thesis topic all by itself!
  • Sent an email to my First reader asking about a thesis defense date.  The due date for the portfolio interview is March 31st, so I suggested a thesis defense of March 22nd.  Since the defense needs to be a minimum of 4 weeks after submitting the completed thesis, that means getting the completed thesis submitted to the Registrar’s office by February 22nd.  Continuing to work backwards, I suggested submitting the first draft of chapter 4 by January 25th.  (this is all 1 week earlier than our original plan).

Tuesday

  • Wrote about how dialogue is used in Jeremiah 32-38, and how that contributes to the plot.
  • Received a response from my first reader, telling me about his schedule.  March 22nd worked for him for a thesis defense.
  • Sent an email to the distance learning department to inquire about the possibility of doing a thesis defense over the internet, since I live a few provinces away and won’t be back on campus before graduation.

Wednesday

  • Starting writing about symbolism and other narrative techniques, but realized I had already talked about most of it in other parts of the chapter, and the few details I had left in my notes didn’t seem to warrant another subsection.  I worked backwards and wove it into what I already had.  I officially ran out of sub-topics to write about in this chapter of the thesis.
  • Received a response back from the distance learning people, giving me a green light for a thesis defense over the internet.  (they’ll be the ones dealing with cameras and technology aspects to make it happen).
  • Wrote to my Second reader to confirm timings for the thesis defense

Thursday

  • Did a complete read-through of chapter 3 of my thesis, which is now 58 pages long.  I haven’t written a conclusion yet, and realized I needed a better introduction.  I also identified 8 places that need reworking.  Some are minor adjustments, others will require a bit more thought.  I also identified 4 specific things I’ll need to watch for when I do a detailed edit.
  • Received a response back from my second reader.  March 22nd works for him for a thesis defense.  He also apologized for not getting back to me sooner about chapter 2, as he was just getting out of the busiest part of the semester (he’s a professor and also the college dean, so he’s a busy guy!)
  • I now had all my ducks in a row, so I wrote back to the Seminary Dean’s office confirming March 22nd for a thesis defense date, via the internet.  It was strange working this week to schedule a defense for a thesis I haven’t completed, yet.

Friday

  • Dealt with one of the revision items on my list.  I considered myself ahead of schedule, since the week’s goal was to finish the writing last week and start revisions this week.  There are now 7 things left I wanted to revise, as well as an intro and conclusion to the whole chapter.  I didn’t do much else that day, since I had other non-Seminary items on my to-do list that needed my attention.
  • The Seminary Dean’s office wrote back confirming March 22nd, and said they’ll be working to set up a portfolio interview sometime between March 23rd and 31st.  (March 31st is the official deadline, but they may not realize it is during Easter Weekend this year, so I’m assuming it’ll be between the 23rd and 29th.)  They also reminded me to coordinate the MABLE comprehensive exam.  Thankfully, I’ve already been in touch with my program coordinator about this.  It’ll be in March as well.

Saturday

  • Heard back from my second reader on chapter 2 of my thesis.  There were 17 places he flagged- most were just minor edits regarding format, while a few are requested revisions that will require a bit more thought.

Looking Ahead

2 weeks left to submit the first draft of chapter 3.  December 15th is the deadline.  

Seminary Goals for the week:

  • High Priority: Complete all 7 revisions I had identified in chapter 3: Introduce a table, fix a choppy paragraph, write a line or two about the rhetorical purpose of the links between Jer 37 and 38, change the style of the section on covenants (this part of the paper “feels” different and out of place- might need to rewrite), add subtitles to the section on narrative flavor, put in a summary for the section on repetition, and consider cutting part of the section on ironies (At one point I talked about things commentators have identified as ironies, but actually weren’t true ironies, which probably is not needed)
  • High Priority: Write an introduction and conclusion to chapter 3
  • Send draft of chapter 3 to my wife for peer-editing.  Make revisions based on her feedback
  • Would be nice: Revise chapter 2 based on feedback from 2nd reader
  • Would be nice: Research- Work through doctoral dissertation by Laufer that I haven’t got to, yet.
  • Would be nice: Read Jeremiah 52 in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic

 

Seminary update: Nov 26th, 2017

Looking Back…

Last week was productive.  I paid my grad fee and sent an email to my second reader about chapter 2.  Still no response.

I then got an email from the Seminary Dean’s office, reminding me about the graduation portfolio.  Apparently I needed to register for it, not just do it.  That was helpful to know!  So I’m now registered for PRT800- Graduation Portfolio.  I still can’t really finish it until March, since part of the portfolio is my MABLE comprehensive exam (which will be in March), and possibly parts of my thesis.  But then I got another email, since they are trying to setup portfolio interviews for everybody.  Good job on planning ahead!  I won’t be on campus before graduation, so it may end up being by Skype.  The Dean’s assistant asked me to coordinate the details of my thesis defense first so that she could set up the portfolio interview, possibly around the same time.  So that’s another loose end I’ve got to deal with, now (I knew it would come up, I just didn’t expect it so soon).

I also finished going through the relevant parts of the Huey commentary.  The NAC commentaries try to specialize in “theological exposition”.  I took a few scant notes, but overall, I had already gleaned most of the information from other sources.  I especially appreciated parts of the introduction where there are conservative responses to  liberal opinions on things like book formation and authorship.

Meanwhile, in my thesis, I wrote a section on the “metaplot” of Jeremiah 32-38, and started writing about “Narrative flavor”, where I’m demonstrating the use of various narrative techniques, and how they contribute to the meaning of the passage.  I’ve done sections on repetitions and omissions so far.

Goals for the week:

3 weeks left to submit the first draft of chapter 3.  I want to finish writing in the first week, revise in the second, and edit in the third.

  • Finish writing about “Narrative Flavor” (I want to at least do sections on Irony, Dialogue, and Symbolism, and possibly other figures of speech)
  • Write conclusion to Chapter 3
  • Would be nice: Read Jeremiah 51 in Aramaic
  • Would be nice: Continue research (there’s one more doctoral dissertation lying around that I haven’t looked at, yet).

“Father Brown,” Selected Stories, by G.K. Chesterton

“I’m afraid I’m a practical man,” said the doctor with gruff humour, “and I don’t bother much about religion and philosophy.” 

“You’ll never be a practical man till you do,” said Father Brown.

Cover of: Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton

Today I finished reading Father Brown, Selected Stories, by G.K. Chesterton.  This edition, from 1992, has 18 Father Brown mysteries.  The editor selected these as the “most ingenious” of Chesterton’s 49 Father Brown stories.  My wife already owned this book before we got married, and we’ve been reading them out loud together for a while.

Synopsis

These are mystery stories.  The twist is that the “detective” is a Roman Catholic priest.  After countless hours of listening to confessions, Father Brown has a keen insight into the souls of those he encounters, and even analyzes his own reactions to things and the reasons behind reactions.  He notices important details, as any good detective would, and shows concern for the salvation of criminals.  One recurring criminal in particular, Flambeau the jewel thief, ends up converting after a few encounters, and then becomes a helper in later stories.  Father Brown cooperates with the local police.  He is also theologically uncompromising.  Even when those around him fear ghosts or supernatural reasons, he will not accept it.

“Nonsense, it’s your business to believe things.”
“Well, I do believe some things, of course,” conceded Father Brown; “and therefore, of course, I don’t believe other things.”

Most of the stories are murder mysteries, but there are also other mysteries such as kidnapping or mysterious disappearances, or mysterious situations that end up not being crimes at all.  The stories take place in the early 1900s, before and after World War I.  Most take place in England, but Father Brown travels around Europe and solves mysteries in France and Italy as well.

The stories included in this volume are:

  • The Blue Cross
  • The Secret Garden
  • The Queer Feet
  • The Invisible Man
  • The Honour of Israel Gow
  • The Hammer of God
  • The Sign of the Broken Sword
  • The Paradise of Thieves
  • The Mistake of the Machine
  • The Perishing of the Pendragons
  • The Strange Crime of John Boulnois
  • The Oracle of the Dog
  • The Dagger with Wings
  • The Mirror of the Magistrate
  • The Blast of the Book
  • The Green Man
  • The Point of a Pin
  • The Insoluble Problem

Comments

I enjoyed these stories.  “The Blast of the Book” was hilarious.  I thought “The Queer Feet” was brilliant.

Chesterton has an amusing turn of phrase, especially when describing characters:

…with eager blue eyes and blond hair that seemed to be brushed back, not merely with a hair-brush but with the wind of the world as he rushed through it.

…and Chesterton also makes candid observations about life:

“Have you ever noticed this- that people never answer what you say?  They answer what you mean- or what they think you mean.”

As a Christian, I appreciated reading about a detective who was devout.  I recommend Father Brown to mystery enthusiasts.

I am counting this as a Mystery for my 2017 reading goals.

 

Seminary update: 19 Nov 17

Looking Back

Last week I fell short on my seminary goals.  With a sermon to prepare and reports to get ready for work, I was pressed for time.  I’m not currently scheduled to preach again in 2017, so I should be able to concentrate a bit more on thesis work.    I was actually called by another church last week as well, asking about pulpit supply, but I declined. I’ve preached there before, but there was too much on my plate to commit to it this time.  Meanwhile, the weather has turned cold, and we finally got snow today, so “feeding the fire” and “shovel the driveway” is now on my list of regular chores.

Here’s last week’s seminary accomplishments:

  • Sent out an email to invite people to graduation
  • Worked through the introduction of Huey’s commentary (but not the sections on Jer 32-38)
  • Finished revising section on subplot of Jer 37-38 in my thesis.
  • Read Jeremiah 51 in Greek (but not Aramaic)

Timeline:

4 weeks left to submit first draft of chapter 3.  I want to be in full time revision mode by the first week of December, and full time edit mode by the second week of December.  That means I have this week and next week to finish the initial draft.

Goals:

  • I still haven’t heard back from my second reader on chapter 2.  Perhaps I should send a reminder.
  • Pay grad fee, which was supposed to get charged to my student account on November 14th.
  • Finish going through Huey’s commentary
  • Write about the metaplot of Jer 32-38
  • Read Jer 51 in Aramaic
  • Would be nice: Write sections on narrative flavor and a conclusion for chapter 3.

 

Book Review: “Dog Man” by Dav Pilkey

Part Man, Part Dog, All Hero!

I won a draw at the local public library.  I was the last one to come in and claim my prize, so I got all the books left over at the bottom of the prize basket.

Dog Man, by Dav Pilkey, is one of those sorts of books that after reading it, I felt like I became dumber.  I wasn’t even sure if it was worthy of a blog post.  But I decided to post anyway, at least to warn others.

Synopsis

This is a comic book of sorts, laid out in four chapters; each chapter a different story.  There’s an appendix at the end with step by step instructions of how to draw some of the characters.  There are a few “flip-o-rama”s, where the reader is to rapidly flip back and forth between two similar pages to sort have an animation.  For example, the first one has a picture of the police holding Dog Man, and the adjacent page has Dog Man in the air.  By flipping rapidly back and forth, it looks like they are tossing him up and down while cheering.  This seemed a unique idea to me.

The basic premise (which is the subject of chapter 1) is that a dumb (but strong) cop and his smart dog are severely injured by a bomb.  Since the cop’s head is doomed, and the dog’s body is ruined, the hospital staff get the brilliant idea of sewing the dog’s head onto the cop’s body.  Voilà, Dog Man!

Dog Man still acts like a dog at the police station, doing things like chewing the chief’s slippers and licking people’s hands.  He doesn’t ever say anything, and explanations come from either the narrator or the voices of other characters around him.

The main villain is a cat named Petey who keeps escaping from jail and implementing some new nefarious plan.  (although there are other villains, such as a corrupt mayor and hot-dogs that come to life)

Comments and Impressions

Don’t bother.  This book isn’t worth your time.

On the positive side, it is the age-old story of good triumphing over evil.  The hero wins.  The villain faces justice.  The idea of Dog Man is interesting (but the way they tell the story leaves much to be desired).

The art work is simplistic- the authors claim they started drawing this comic strip in grade school, and made little effort to update their methods.  Somehow, it is hard for me to appreciate poor artwork as some sort of legitimate style.  Does no one pursue excellence anymore?

Words like “hecka” and “supa” are not real adjectives.  Using this sort of slang in a published book somehow reinforces it, when I’d rather people (readers?  My own children?) learn to speak properly.

I don’t appreciate toilet humor.  People getting their pants pulled down, dog poop, etc.

The story lines were weak.  The sort of things a child might come up with, sure, but the medium is the message.  If such a story came from a seven year old, I might praise them for writing a story with a beginning, middle and conclusion (and then gently suggest they remove the part about the poop for the final draft).  But for the same story to be published by an adult doesn’t inspire confidence in the education system.  Perhaps this style of story-telling is trying to reaffirm a child’s literary efforts?  (Look!  You can make stories just as good!)

I suppose I have the philosophy that children should be exposed to good literature.  Stuff worth reading.  Stuff with value.  Stuff that will teach them morals.  Will a child laugh and enjoy this book?  Probably.  But will they gain anything of value?  Will it inspire them to be better people?  Or will I spend the next few weeks trying to stamp out any bad habits/ideas they pick up from reading this book?  I’m trying to teach my kids wisdom.  I’ve said many times at the library that “not everything is worth reading”.  This book proves my point.  It is not literature.

I plan to get rid of this book at my earliest convenience, and don’t recommend it to my kids.