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.

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Wess

...is the William R. Roger Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

3 thoughts on “The Knowns and Unknowns | Entering Into Year Five”

  1. The other day, I wrote a long, thoughtful response to this and wordpress ate it. I will try again.

    First was that, honey, children will do that to you. Get used to it. Are you following through on your intention to spend more time with the bible in a devotional sense and not just a scholarly tool?

    Second, I had two good ideas for your paper that I can’t quite remember now. Part of it was to update your writing about Quakers as a postmodern religion, because it would be good to document your growth in knowledge and understanding in this area. Part of it was to explain how Quakerism could be the answer to what so many people are searching for and how and why Quakers are failing to live up to that potential and to offer suggestions for what could be different. But it all sounded more coherent and better the day before yesterday.

    Oh and I wanted to ask if you got your copy of the October Friends Journal yet.

  2. robin,

    “First was that, honey, children will do that to you.” haha! Thanks for your honesty Robin.

    sorry my comments weren’t working. I finally figured out what the problem was. Thank you for reminding me of my intention – I am not excelling in this area the way I would like. But I have decided to read through exodus over the next month or two and reflect on it as we are going through it at the Mennonite Church. Hopefully having a little direction will help.

    I really like your ideas for the paper as well. Thank you for the suggestion. I haven’t really published in that area specifically and I think you’re right it would be good to get that down on paper in a coherent way before I move onto other ideas. Maybe write something that documents these early “findings” we’ve been talking about. Plus it seems sort of pastoral in a way, or practical and helpful.

    I haven’t gotten my copy yet. I am excited to see it. Have you received yours?

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