Saturday, September 6, 2008

And Thus School Begins Again...

That's right. Another autumn, another academic year. Aside from the first few, there haven't been any years that weren't academic in my life. It's a bit disheartening (or maybe it's just the rainy weather today) to think that I have another four years of school ahead of me, although one of those years will not be strictly academic.

Still, I'm here, I registered for classes, I've been billed for tuition, so I might as well dive in. So far, I've had five of the six classes I'm taking this semester. The last one will begin on Tuesday, but I think I have enough impressions to make my report. As I mentioned in my last post, there was some last-minute shuffling of my schedule, so disregard the course list I posted earlier in the summer. I'm taking Introduction to the Old Testament (this is the one I haven't had yet), Biblical Hebrew, Church's Worship, Integrative Seminar, Early Church and Its Creeds, and Foundations of Homiletical Theory. I'll talk about each one briefly.

Both Intro to the Old Testament and Biblical Hebrew are taught by Dr. Stevens. Hebrew, I can already tell, is going to be my hardest class this semester. Actually, the first three weeks are probably going to be the worst part, as we learn the Hebrew alphabet and learn to read the text aloud. At the moment, my brain is on a constant loop saying, "Aleph... bet... gimel... dalet... he..." and so on. As for Intro to the Old Testament, I haven't had that class yet, so I'll give my impressions sometime in the next week.

Church's Worship is taught jointly by Dr. Oldenburg and Dr. Christianson. It looks like a very interesting and enjoyable class. I'll have it next semester as well. The purpose of the class is to cover all aspects of worship, from music to prayer to the Eucharist to the church building itself. Dr. Oldenburg is truly passionate about worship and also serves as the Dean of the Chapel. It's easy to be infected by his enthusiasm. As for Dr. Christianson, he's also teaching Early Church and Its Creeds, so I'll mention him in a moment.

Integrative Seminar is the class which ties in our field education work with our academic work. This year, we'll be doing Teaching Parish, for which each student is sent to a local church to learn about the congregation and to spend time with its pastor. Dr. Erling and Dr. Avery teach this class together. Dr. Erling indicated to Steve and I that we are actually going to be assigned to a church together, which is somewhat unusual, but they want to assign us to a church which has a clergy couple. I'm excited about that opportunity, although it means Steve and I are literally going to be doing everything together this semester—both classes and Teaching Parish.

Early Church and Its Creeds is a history course primarily. It's taught by Dr. Christianson, who has been teaching at the seminary for over 40 years, so he's obviously a very knowledgable and able professor. The idea of the class is to cover the history of the creeds and the development of the early church, but also to talk about why creeds are important now and how they fit into the worship of the modern church. In that way, it dovetails with Church's Worship.

Last but not least is Foundations of Homiletical Theory—the preaching course. We'll be studying the theory of preaching and applying that knowledge by writing three sermons this semester. Dr. Hedahl is the professor for this course (and, interestingly, she's also the author of one of our required textbooks).

So that's the course load. As I mentioned above, Steve and I are taking all the same classes, and it looks like we'll be at the same Teaching Parish church, so we're seeing a lot of each other these days. Not that I'm complaining, of course, but it's a new experience for us after St. John's, where we never had class together. As the semester progresses, hopefully I'll learn a few interesting pieces of information I can share with you all.

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