Friday, August 22, 2014

Be Strategic.

It is days before the first class and it is oppressively muggy. But winter will come, and with it, finals, and due dates for papers and presentations. Here are some suggestions for the first three weeks of classes, to make the end of the semester manageable.
1. Read your syllabi thoroughly before your classes start. Try to figure out the objectives and strategies of each course.
2. Read the table of contents, front and back matter, and sub-heads of all your textbooks.
3. Find ways your course material intersects with your own experiences, interests, future vocation, etc. Imagine ways to integrate your course with your personal goals, inside of the course objectives and assignments.
4. Begin to gather new vocabulary for your courses. Look for words with which you are unfamiliar and start to collect and define them.
Use the first three weeks, when not much is assigned, to get ahead of the curve. And try to stay cool.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Defining and mapping words

To over-simplify, seminary education is really about two things: defining vocabulary and mapping the connections between the word/concepts. Theology, in the above diagram, for instance, sits "atop" many related areas of inquiry.
How we understand God (theology) affects how we understand human beings and cultures (anthropology). It affects how we understand the church (ecclesiology), christology, eschatology, etc.
"Theology" could also be divided into different sorts/branches/approaches: systematic, contextual, and biblical . . . It is important to understand the distinctions, the similarities, and how they relate to each other.

Every seminary academic discipline is chock-full of words and concepts to be defined and mapped: biblical studies, pastoral care, missiology, church history, christian formation, etc.
Your reading, writing, listening and speaking is constantly helping you to define, create and refine your "maps." The more sophisticated your maps become, the smoother your "navigation." Bon voyage!