I have been working today on planning my study strategy for the fall semester. Life is once again going to get interesting. A little break is good--it will give me time to charge up for what is coming.
Monday afternoons I will be in "theology for specialized ministries." This is a course for M.Div. students who are not on the senior pastor track. The idea is to help us formulate a vision for what kind of place of ministry we fit into. It will either be good for me or intensify my "lost" feeling. At this point in my seminary career, I must confess to not knowing what I am doing here. Most other students are somehow working in church settings or are at least quite active in some kind of leadership role and have a reasonably good idea of what they see themselves doing. I really don't know, and I am starting back at square 1 with settling into a church. My "problem" is that I enjoy many aspects of ministry, and none of the things I feel particularly compelled about seem to lend themselves to a real space for me. What I seem to do best is a little of this and a little of that; but this feels like a cop out to write. I don't know how to articulate anything about what I "do." None of it compares to anything that anyone else does. But if I look back over the last 15 years of my life, I can call various things that I have been doing some kind of "ministry." Perhaps some aspect of this course will be helpful.
On Tuesdays I will be immersed in Bible courses. In the morning I have a course on the Epistles (books between Acts and Revelation); and in the afternoon I have a course on the Penteteuch (first five books of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible). I have not seen the syllabus for the morning course yet. The afternoon course has weekly assignments with readings out of that thousand-page book I scanned a few weeks ago. There are also maps which the other students will be marking. I have braille maps; but, of course, I can't mark them. I talked with the professor; and we decided that the alternative will be that I come up with text descriptions to indicate that I understand the locations of the sites on the maps. I'm looking forward to the challenge, but it will definitely require me to be alert. The reading assignments are scattered throughout the book. It is a Bible dictionary, which means that there are passages about important characters and topics arranged in alphabetical order. Our assignments for one week may include, for example, the passages about Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, and Sarah, so that we are reading from four different portions of the book instead of one long passage. It's going to be interesting doing these readings. I think that I may do them in spurts instead of all in one sitting. This would allow for a bit more reflecting as well as perhaps a change in my time management. It can be challenging to find enough time to read a long passage but may be less challenging to find time to read a few shorter passages.
I have an online course: the third and final constructive theology course. I have not seen the syllabus yet. Doing the course online is somewhat advantageous because it cuts out my travel time to and from campus. The potential hardship is that I must create my own structure here at home in order to remain caught up.
I am considering adding another Monday class: a seminar course on women in ministry. It won't be offered again until the fall of 2009; and if I continue going at my current pace I will probably be graduated or doing CPE by that time. I'd like the opportunity to explore this topic. In particular, I would like the opportunity to explore the overlap between the issues of women in ministry and people with disabilities in the ministry. When I did my little project on feminist theology last spring, I found that there is significant overlap between some aspects of feminist and liberation theology. There is also overlap between liberation theology and "disabilities theology"--there is not really a name for it because it depends largely on the angle taken by the writer. Someday I hope to do a dissertation on this...
I've been trying to put together a calendar so that I can examine the reading and writing load and look at the potential impact of adding this extra course. Right now I'm leaning heavily toward it. I may not know until sometime next week or even the week after. I have been scanning as if I will be adding it. I do know that I will have to do an exegesis paper in each of my Bible classes, and I suspect I will have at least one paper in the theology class.
This was mostly for my benefit--I need to keep track of my planning progress. But I also know that a few people are interested in what's going on with school, so I thought I would post it.