The Knowns and Unknowns | Entering Into Year Five

Tomorrow marks the beginning of another year of school, our fifth year in California, the (School) year our daughter will be born into and the year in which I come very close to finishing my course work.  Of course, it also marks all sorts of things I have absolutely no idea of. Since Emily and I both run our lives by school schedules the educational calendar is in many ways how we order are lives.  And every year there is a fresh excitement in the air and a feeling of reliance upon God for all the unknowns that are about to present themselves.

But in both cases I look forward to this new year, all the things known and unknown. I’ve already begun reading for my third of six tutorials.  In this tutorial with Ryan I am surveying missiological texts from a wide range of thinkers from Wilbert Shenk (Mennonite), to Stephen Bevans (Catholic), to John Howard Yoder and James McClendon (Theologians), to John Milbak and James K Smith (Radical Orthodoxy).  That’s not everyone on the list either, my bibliography is really long this time around as I am trying to get a good “lay of the land.” But the land is looking really huge at the moment and a little overwhelming.  Hopefully out of this will come a good perspective on who has said what in the area of missiology, culture theory and the church. I also plan on trying to incorporate what I learn of missiology into what I know of Quaker history, practice and thought, as ultimately I hope to help develop this area further with my dissertation.

This year I will be an “Instructor in Training” with Ryan for the second time.  This means I’ll be grading and helping with class, as well as teaching periodically, running the class blog, and a whole assortment of things that Ryan needs taken care.  Last year he threatened to make me clean his office on repeated occasions but finally didn’t have the nerve to enact the request! Maybe it’s because he was worried I would say something about it on my blog? 😉 We’ll see what he has up his sleeve this time around.  For the fall quarter we’re going to be doing Church in Mission again, a class we did last winter.  I am looking forward to the class and working on some of the issues he has planned (you can check out the syllabus here if you have any interest). One thing I like so much about working with him is that he really includes me in on how he does the class, which has been really helpful for me as this is essentially my apprenticeship.

An academic goal I have for the year is to propose (and have accepted) a research topic to Ben Pink Dandelion for the Friends in Higher Education conference at Woodbrooke next June. If the paper is accepted I will have the chance to go back to Woodbrooke to present the paper.  Since this is (at this point) one major goal for the year I’ve already been thinking a lot about it and am discovering just how difficult it is to come up with a topic that is “new” or unique and then write about it.  Usually papers are written in the context of a class and a list of readings, but for this thing it’s really on whatever I want to write about.  At this point I feel like I’m trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat that has a hole in the bottom, nothing’s coming. If you have any ideas and want to toss in your votes feel free!

And of course the baby girl is due on Christmas day, and really everything else seems almost completely meaningless in comparison. That’s pretty much all we talk and think about right now, everything else feels peripheral.