Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Winding Down

With less than 5 days left in our tour of duty, I have started to become reflective on our experience. Tomorrow I'll post some pictures of things that have been part of my world here. Tonight I'll list the things I've liked most about England:

1. People - I suppose it is not too surprising, but we've met some great people. I've had opportunity to get to know people through three avenues; 1) church, 2) university, 3) teaching. We've come to appreciate our little congregation of the Summer Lane Church of Christ. Even with the 1 hour bus ride to and from, it was always worth worshiping with them and we'll miss our English, Socttish, Nigerian, Ghanaian, and Malaysian brothers and sisters from the church.

Because I showed up in the winter term, I did not have the opportunity to take lots of classes, and, not having an office, it was difficult to get to know many people in the Theology Department of the University. That said, I have grown more and more appreciative of Mark Goodacre, and I also admire the work of one of the professors I got to enjoy firsthand, that of Prof Sugirtharajah ('Sugi' for us English speakers). I had weekly meetings with Mark, and the only trouble was that we'd normally get wrapped up in talking about everything but my research. I'm an Anglophile and he's an Americophile, so we could talk for hours about the most mundane topics. I'll miss those weekly sessions. But Duke (not to mention the US) will be better off having the Goodacres. And they're moving to my 3rd favorite state!

Probably the most rewarding experience I've had here came courtesy of Birmingham Christian College. The opportunity to teach 2 courses was priceless (though they paid me a little!) and the friendships I've made via BCC will remain long after we leave. Only one of my students was my age (I've since passed him) and his wit, insight, and love for the Lord have made me have a natural affection for Jon Taylor. I know that if Mary and I were here longer Jon and Su would continue to be a regular part of our lives. He's considering an academic career teaching New Testament courses... I can only hope that he'll come and teach at a uni in America!

I should also mention that I've had experiences from all over the Christian religious spectrum. Birmingham Christian College is a bona fide evangelical college. Queen's College (where I have worked as an assistant) is as liberal an institution as I ever care to work for. It trains clergy for the Church of England, Methodist Church, and United Reform Church. I could tell stories about the school... but I want to stay positive here.... My experience with John Hull, professor at Queen's, has been one of those which will continue to shape me for some time. John has been blind since the early 1980's but he has continued his scholarly career in the study of religious education in Britain and mainland Europe now into his 70th year. The most remarkable part of our friendship is the fact that I rarely even think about the fact that he is blind anymore. He is such an enjoyable and wise person that even I have learned to get past the superficial and appreciate his heart. I will miss working with him.

And, as you would expect, the Theology Dept. at the Uni covered a broad spectrum of faiths with scholars from each one. In a similar vein, today I returned the last 4 library books to the Uni library. I reckon that I've read significant portions (if not all) of 50 academic books since January... not a world record or anything, but an immensely rewarding endeavor nonetheless. Now if I could just understand Schleiermacher (a cursory reading of a few internet summaries will indicate so much conflicting information that you'll wonder how one person could be understood so differently on so many subjects... until you read Schleiermacher himself!).

I'll list more things I like about the UK over the next 4 days... stay tuned.


At 3:24 PM, Blogger whatusay said...

Having spent some time in North Carolina, I would like to give Sir Goodacre some advice. First, Duke sucks. Second, UNC sucks worse. Third, Go Pack (not your bags, but as in the NC State Wolfpack). Lastly, NC and Florida are the are the most liberal states in the Southeastern U.S. But do not fret. You have a choice whether you let yourself be infected. Right BK?

At 5:25 PM, Blogger Barclay said...

you use the term 'liberal' as if it's a bad thing...i think dlu had more to do with my liberalism than uf, but i'll take it wherever i can get it...besides, i learned from a bumper sticker the other day that jesus was a liberal...and i want to be like him.

nc has more confederate battle flags per capita than fla, so i like my state better...and while du and unc may suck on occasion, anyone who lives south of the mason-dixon line knows that no fruit sucks like a big orange.

go gators...and fight the power.

At 6:39 AM, Blogger Mommy of Boys said...

Sorry to change the subject from these two intellectuals...

But I'm glad that you all had such a great experience. I'm proud of you guys and look forward to hearing about your new adventures in Tennessee!



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