Friday, January 14, 2005


Busy days yesterday and today. Yesterday I taught my first Hermeneutics course. It was basically introducing what we'll be discussing all term. We concluded by offering a little non-biblical criticusm to the old story by Hans Christian Andersen -- The Ugly Duckling. Genre Analysis - Fairy tale... complete with fantasy (talking ducks) and a moral point (about judging others). Narrative analysis... Setting changes from a beautiful day in a wood to a cold, brutal winter, then to spring when hope comes alive... Characters are developed - all the ducks are bad (even the mother)... Plot - developed as we feel more and more sympathy for the duckling. An abrupt twist is when the ugly duckling, ready to surrender to death because of his ugliness, sees himself in the water and realizes his beauty. Feminist Theology - Of course, the hero is a drake, and the implication is that, if the ugly duckling were a female, there would be no hope. So the story serves to reinforce stereotypes. Black Theology - Punished because he doesn't look like the majority, the duckling only finds true peace when he is among his own, beautiful kind. Liberation Theology - One option for the newly discovered swan might be an uprising against all of duckdom!

This exercise simply served to help them see that we won't be doing rocket science, but trying to use clever but faithful approaches to interpreting the Bible.

Yesterday was also good because I got a part time job (6-10 hours per week) assisting Dr. John Hull in his research and duties. This will be especially good for me because Dr. Hull is completely blind and I'm sure he will teach me much. With the money I make from teaching and helping Dr. Hull, we'll almost break even over here. Praise the Lord!

Now, I'm off to lunch with Mark Goodacre, my supervisor, and then to Wolverhampton for a B&W Television...

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

At last!

I awoke very early this morning. I walked about 2 miles to a train station (and later learned I lived closer to another) and rode the train to the airport to await my crew. Their plane landed on time, and within 30 minutes I was loving on my little one and hugging my wife! I was lost without them. We (Mary, Helen, Mary's mom, and I) crammed into a taxi and took the 25 minute or so ride back to our house. After a little over an hour of unpacking and settling, we ate some sandwiches. The 3 girls couldn't help but fall asleep, and I, after little nap, snuck over here to the University to take care of some class stuff for tomorrow and some emailing. Our little house will start to feel like a home tonight.

I teach Hermeneutics in the morning. Thankfully, tomorrow will mostly serve to set the stage for the term. I'm also looking a potential part-time (6-10 per week) job. I will make a little money as an instructor, but not enough to pay the bills. With a little extra income, we could avoid dipping further into savings. Let's hope...

One more thing: For some reason, my posts have shown to be 8 hours and 10 minutes earlier than when I post them. So, beginning with this one, I will try to have the correct UK posting time.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Let the games, er classes, begin

My first class in the UK was on Monday morning. Of course, I taught it. I teach "The Gospel of John" on Mondays to third year students and "Hermeneutics" on Thursdays, also to third years. I think the first one went well. I have a small class, 8 students, and they all seemed attentive and interested. FWIW, the Bible translations being used: 2 New King James, 3 New International, 1 New Revised Standard, 1 Good News Bible, and 1 New American Standard (the American teacher's, of course). Yes, that's only 7 students. Student #8 will be there next week.

I also attended my first class on Monday afternoon -- Research Methods. The only thing of note is that I happened to sit beside the only other American in the class of 50 or so. He's a nice guy from Philadelphia working on an MA in Quaker Studies, and he is a Quaker. And no, he does not wear one of those hats and, as far as I could tell, wasn't particularly fond of the oats. He told me that another American grad student and her husband from Savannah, Ga., are living not too far from our place in Bearwood. I hope that we cross paths.

My most tantalizing class will probably be on Wednesdays -- Postcolonial Biblical Interpretation. I'll have to miss tomorrow's class though, because MY FAMILY WILL BE HERE! They're due to land in Bham at 8 am. Let's pray they make is safe and sound.

And, in the "Who Would've Thought" category:
Preacher Dies During Sermon About Heaven
Jan 10, 10:43 PM (ET)
OVIEDO, Fla. (AP) - A Presbyterian minister collapsed and died in mid-sentence of a sermon after saying "And when I go to heaven ...," his colleague said Monday.
The Rev. Jack Arnold, 69, was nearing the end of his sermon Sunday at Covenant Presbyterian Church in this Orlando suburb when he grabbed the podium before falling to the floor, said the Rev. Michael S. Beates, associate pastor at Covenant Presbyterian.
Before collapsing, Arnold quoted the 18th century Bible scholar, John Wesley, who said, "Until my work on this earth is done, I am immortal. But when my work for Christ is done ... I go to be with Jesus," Beates said in a telephone interview.
Several members of the congregation with medical backgrounds tried to revive the minister and paramedics were called, but Arnold appeared to die instantly, Beates said.
Arnold had been the senior minister at the church until the late 1990s when he began traveling to Africa and the Middle East to teach pastors. The cause of death was believed to be cardiac arrest. He had bypass surgery five years earlier.
Beates also recounted Arnold's death in an e-mail he sent to members of the Central Florida Presbytery.
"We were stunned," Beates said. "It was traumatic, but how wonderful it was he died in his own church among the people he loved the most."

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Off to church... or not

I'm bummed right now because of a stupid mistake I made that caused me to miss church this morning. I talked to the guy who was to pick me up last night and he said he'd be at the hotel between 10:20 and 10:40. Well, I got up plenty early and showered and got all my stuff together. I went downstairs and waited from 10:20 til 11:05. I figured something must have come up, and I didn't know how to get there, so I decided to walk up the street and get something to eat - a cinammon role and raspberry tart for £1. I ate them in the store and then decided I'd go to Woolworth's ("And stay out of the Woolworth's") and see if they had any floppy disks. The door was locked, but the sign said that they opened at 11am. My watch said 11:45. I stood there and could see the workers inside. Another lady came up and I asked what time they opened - "11am" she said. I asked her what time she had - "10:45". Somehow I had set my watch up an hour. When I realized what I'd done, I dashed back to the hotel, only to find that I'd missed my ride. What a way to build up warm feelings toward Americans.

But, on the bright side, only 3 more days until Mary and Helen are here!!!!

I found us a place to live in a little area called Bearwood. 2 Bedroom house with more room than I expected and close to amenities for Mary. Of course, I'll still have to take a bus to school or ride a bike, but its still not that far. Its funny how they call each little neighborhood a town here. To get from our house to the Grad School (and the place where I'll be teaching - Birmingham Christian College) you have to go through 2 towns, but its only about 3 miles away!

I teach my first class on the gospel of John tomorrow morning.... Ayyyyygh! I'm excited but nervous. On Thursday comes the kicker -- Hermeneutics. That one will stretch me.