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Entries in Seminary Notes (105)


Behind every seminarian, there is a supportive spouse

This past week, I finally caved. I decided that next semester, I will have to use a Sunday school curriculum that is prepared. I generally do my own studies, but with school this semester, I'm finding it a bit more work than I anticipated. And I am only taking one course. I don't know how others do it.

There are a few young men in my class this semester who have young children. In adddition, some of them have to work to support their families. When I think of the number of men and women with children who attend seminary, it occurs to me that it is crucial to have a supportive spouse or, if the individual has children but is not married, a supportive friend or family member.

I don't have a lot of extra responsibility, but I am active in my local church, and I do make time to visit with children who live an hour away from me. I have a home and husband to take care of. Perhaps I'm getting addled now that my 50's have set in, but I am really glad I don't have anything else to be responsible for. As it is, there are things I don't have as much time for. Yesterday was a gorgeous fall day; a perfect one for a photo walk, actually. The breeze was enough to toss the leaves around, but not strong enough to make walking unpleasant. It was sunny and the air blazed with colour. After the 30 minute walk with the dog, where was I? Inside finishing my Sunday school lesson so I could continue studying for my mid-term exam, which is next week. After studying for a while in the late afternoon, it was time to prepare dinner. After dinner, it was time with my husband. Sure, I could have studied, but I'm sort of funny that way; I think nurturing my relationship with my husband is a good idea. And there was a hockey game on, during which time I knitted so that I could finish a gift on time.

How do these young families do it? 

There are sacrifices involved in everything we do. If a woman chooses to work outside the home, there are sacrifices that the family accepts. If she stays home, there are sacrifices the family accepts. It is the same with education choices. The young husband and father who goes to seminary full-time needs a supportive wife, because I suspect she spends quite a bit of time parenting on her own. How could he focus on his work and accomplish everything without that kind of support?

I'm very thankful that I was unable to attend seminary until now. Aside from the fact that I think being older influences my attitude toward learning, I'm thankful I was able to focus on the kids during their younger years. Other women are good at juggling schedules and workloads. I'm a wimp, and would have been a miserable failure at that when my kids were younger. I'm especially glad I was at home a lot during those teen years. We sometimes think that our kids don't need us as much when they get older, but they do.

Many of my friends are becoming mothers-in-law and grandmothers. Every now and then I wish I was, too. But then I think to myself that I've finally reached a place where I can get back to school. I'm going to be thankful for the time I have to pursue this. And on occasion when studying means we have to eat take-out, or the dust bunnies build up, I'm going to be thankful for a husband who really doesn't notice dust bunnies, and is always up for having take-out.


Blogging lessons in middle age

I think I'm probably more than middle aged. The average lifespan of women in Canada is not 100 years old as far as I know. Late middle age is a better designation, I guess.

I love how God continues to teach me lessons as I get older. Perhaps it's because I'm in seminary right now (and I am definitely not the oldest in my class at the moment), but I feel like I'm learning a lot about many things. Maybe the estrogen deficiency induced brain fog that seems to have taken over has lifted somewhat. At any rate, I'm learning.

I have been blogging for eleven years. Lately, I don't blog much, and that's largely because I'm busy with other things and because I have finally (and I am sure there are many who are relieved!) reached the point where I realize that I don't need to express every thought that comes into my head. I did that in the past because I felt obligated to blog every day. However, there is no crown in heaven for blogging every day. Actually, on occasion when I tried to blog every day, there were one of two end results, and maybe two of two results: first, I took time away from something I needed to be doing, probably paying attention to my kids or my husband or my home, and second, I blogged about something that didn't need to be blogged about.

In the past ten months, I've blogged less than ever before, and it hasn't been such a bad thing. I've spent more time reading and thinking. I've actually written quite a bit. There is a lot of value in writing for oneself rather than an audience. But most of all, I've realized over these past ten months that I just don't need to add to the noise. Who cares what I think about the latest controversy? When Christian scandal breaks out, hundreds, if not thousands, of responses pop up, and usually there is usually only a handful which are helpful or even necessary. Too often in the past, I jumped on the bandwagon. And what did I gain from it?

We can't change the foolish decisions we made in the past, but I trust in the fact that the majority of what I wrote is largely forgotten by those who read it; unless of course, it was really bad, and in that case, I don't want to know about it. I tend to react quickly (which can be good in some situations) and that has not always served me well. I'm learning how to be more thoughtful, and that means speaking less. This past week I had to answer the question "What do we learn about God's sovereignty and human responsibility from the Major Prophets." In 200 words. It took me all of the five days I had to complete it to finish. I really had to stop and think and I definitely had to choose what was most important to say.

I am sure most people have learned this lesson much earlier in life. I tend to tak a lot longer in learning such things. But I am thankful that the lessons come eventually.


How blogging can adversely affect a seminary student

Seminary is teaching me a lot; and not just the course work. It's giving me insight into how I've changed as a student.

In my undergraduate days, there was no social media. There was email, but there was not this continual glut of information screaming for our attention. We could close the newspaper, turn off the television, and have silence. In recent years, though, as I have engaged in blogging and social media, I, like many, have noticed a deficit in my attention span.

This was really brought to my attention this past week as my class discussed wisdom literature. As I read through the class's answers to the reflection question -- which are supposed to be around 200 words -- I found myself getting impatient with those answers which clearly went beyond 200 words. I forced myself to concentrate, because part of this class is interacting thoughtfully with others.

And that brings me to something else I noticed. Just how thoughtful am I? I was in a hurry to get my answer completed, not think deeply. I am more used to blogging, which features a lot of fast responses. Do most people spend a week or more contemplating every blog post? Some do, but judging from the way post after post popped up in the wake of the drama surrounding Douglas Wilson, most often, people post quickly. I have been guilty of that myself more often than I would like to admit.

Critical thinking takes time and effort. It takes silence, too; and not just audible silence, but the kind of silence we get from unplugging for a couple of hours; or days, if necessary.

There is a need for thinking fast on one's feet. I can do that, but I want to be more thoughtful about things. I am glad that there is something which is forcing me to do this.


When critique comes from the right source

There is an online discussion forum where my seminary classmates and I post answers to questions and where we can discuss with one another. It kind of reminds me of The Well-Trained Mind Message forum in the good old days.

Our professor also interacts with us, commenting on our responses and then asking us questions to challenge us. This week, as we discussed the book of Judges, I responded to the reflection question by making some observations about Jephthah. I responded to his query about my answer, but he still did not entirely agree with my points. He explained why, and I was able to see his point, and I learned something further in the process.

Responding to critique is not always fun. Whether or not we respond well often depends on the motive. My prof's motive is that I learn to think critically and to support my assertions. His motive is that I learn. It was easy for me to welcome his critique because I know his motive.

What are our motives when we correct others in an online venue? Do our motives have any altruistic purpose? Are we more concerned with proving someone wrong? Putting someone in his place? Is it just to have a meaningful conversation? It's hard to communicate motive online, in words, with total strangers.

I really believe that we can choose to use words that don't send a message that we are trying to put someone in their place. Bombast, sarcasm, and belittling don't communicate positively in an online situation when the are the only methods of communicating utilized. There are many who are condescending when an objection is raised regarding someone's "tone." It is true that being careful about tone can be taken to an extreme, but acting as if it is not even worthy of mention is another extreme. I tend to extremes, and it is something I want to correct.

If we are going to discuss online, we need to think about our words. There is so much missing from dialogue when the participants don't know each other, or are unable to hear and see each other. It calls for caution. I have met my prof. He's my academic advisor. I know what his motives are. When it comes to others, I need not to assume bad motives. When I communicate online, I should use careful, true words. That's the good thing about English; there are lots of words to choose from. 


Fall randomness

Fall is here, and I hope to enjoy it. Today, we're going on a trip to the gorge at Niagara Falls. It's a beautiful day for photos. I need some fun time. The course I am taking, which is a survey of the Bible, is a lot more work than the previous class I took. There is a lot of reading. I'm on schedule for next week with the exception of some reading on Esther. In my Bible reading for the course, I'm on Job 13. I like my prof a lot. He challenges us to think hard about the issues.

I'm off soon for a conference in Quebec. The last time I went to a conference with my husband, it was to Whitehorse. La Malbaie has some big shoes to fill. I have two assignments I need to finish before I go. 

I'm scheduled to get my cast off on October 7th, and I will be glad. There is a lot I can't do, and typing is not easy. Part of the way my seminary class discusses things is through an on-line forum. My contributions have been brief. Maybe that's a good thing.

A broken metacarpal has intruded on my knitting projects. I am making some things for Christmas gifts, and while I can knit, it's slow going, and it hurts my thumb, index and middle finger, who are not used to bearing all of the knitting load. Those other two immobilized fingers are missed. I am almost done this one:


Last week was full of all kinds of internet angst. I took a little interest in it, but with school, I just don't have the time to ponder those matters. Again, maybe that is a good thing. That said, I do miss some of my blogging friends who are also busy.

Pumpkin season is upon us. Somewhere in the midst of things, I do have to get my pie pumpkins and freeze some. I am the pie-maker for Thanksgiving dinners, and I plan on using fresh puree. Can you believe we are already talking about Thanksgiving?

Things don't have much promise of slowing down. In October, my son's girlfriend is having her graduation recital. She is a pianist, and I'm looking forward to hearing her program. I also have a mid-term the next day, so I'd better study well.

One of my oldest friends has breast cancer. I was so thankful to hear a positive pathology report. Still, it is a scary thing. One in nine women will be affected by breast cancer. I wonder how many of my other friends will confront this.

Reading through the historical books reminds me again of God's mercy. It's also reminded me of the war themes in Scripture. My prof is researching holy war. I'd be interested to hear his thoughts.

My fingers have had enough, and there's still time to get some reading done before we go. Happy Saturday!