Welcome. Today is Thursday, August 17, 2017. I write from the first floor of the Hubbard Library of Fuller Seminary (see photo). German class starts in a few hours… but first, lets launch!
Why this blog? Here are five reasons.
First, I’ve heard others advise young theologians to blog rather than to not blog. “Start a blog, get your ideas flowing, connect with followers who work at various schools and churches.” This makes sense. Today people expect to be able to find the information they want, about you, your church or your product online. If you aren’t easily found online (or extremely local) it’s as if you don’t exist. As I finish out the first year of my PhD program, and look towards the possibility of teaching or writing for wider Christian audiences, I thought that I would follow this advice.
Second, I wanted to share with my own local church family(ies) ( I teach among Plymouth Brethren assemblies) what I have been up to. Curiosity combined with an absence of information breeds rumors. It is not typical for someone to attend a seminary if they came up in a Plymouth Brethren assembly. Several do, but it isn’t encouraged. What is very rare is to go on for a PhD. What is extremely rare is for someone in my position to do so at a place like Fuller Seminary, or to pursue an MA in philosophy, as I did from 2013-2016. So I feel that I need to tell my story and do some explaining for those that I minister and worship among. I want to share what God has done, what our family learned as we moved from Florida to California four years ago, and so many other things. For example, some people in my circle(s) of fellowship still can’t figure out why I’m in school at this age; they don’t understand what a PhD is about, and why I can’t use the idea that they dreamt up (15 seconds ago over the phone) for my dissertation topic. Along with this theme, is the desire that friends from 2500 miles away (Florida) can keep up with our family and my ministry.
Third, writing is healthy. It is cathartic. In previous generations women and men would journal, these days they blog. Furthermore, it is an important part of one’s walk with God to be able to look back and see the way that He has led us, cared for us, etc. (See point five below for more). Without some record of passing years, one’s life easily becomes a moving spotlight, where all but the most significant memories of the past are forgotten. Alternatively, a blog gives me a place to quickly dump ideas (one can start “posts” without publishing them) so that my mind is free to focus on other pressing issues without worrying that I’ve lost a juicy realization. This aids in focus and clarity.
Fourth, I hope to have a place to put advice for others contemplating PhD work. I don’t consider myself as “the” person to go to for advice, but those who wind up doing this kind of thing (and its one of the hardest things a person can do – see here for an example) it always helps to read the reflections of those doing this sort of thing.
Fifth, I hope the site will serve as a testimony to myself (in years to come) of how God worked, led, and provided. Let me frame this with a memory. I recall learning in a spiritual formation class at Talbot School of Theology that an extremely healthy thing for adults to do is to be able to make sense of their history/story. It is healthy and receiving to be able to look back at one’s life and say “This was not good, but I learned/grew/came-to-terms-with-it.” It is healthy to be able to say, “That made no sense to me 5 years ago and was extremely frustrating, but based on where I am today, this makes good sense…. I can see God’s work.”
So with that in mind, it helps me to be able to have a place to put questions and reflections from day to day so that in years to come I can look back and see what God has down, how I’ve grown, how things were resolved. Equally important, is to perhaps have a place where I can capture stories that I can share with my kids. I’m not sure that WordPress will be around 20 years from now, but who knows.
That is enough for now. It’s time to do German.