Thursday, September 17, 2015

September 17 dissertation notes (week 4: scrutiny)

Thanks for the encouraging comments last week; they helped a lot.

Tonight was the feedback session with my advisor and Early Church colleagues. It wasn't so bad. The last three times we did this, I was so nervous beforehand that I didn't eat. (Which, trust me, doesn't happen that often.) Tonight Kevin took me out for dinner beforehand, which was helpful in multiple ways. I came in feeling more sane, more settled, and less likely to faint, which is always good.

In case you're wondering, I went with my instinct and submitted my material from over the summer, rather than trying to cobble together something more "respectable"-looking at the last minute. It was the right decision. The consensus was that it's in many ways an improvement over what I've submitted in the past. However, there still isn't absolute clarity about what the core focus of the dissertation is, so I need to put some more work into that before I resume chapters. It's really frustrating to me that I struggle to express my thoughts in the concise and crystal-clear form my advisor wants to see. Why is this??? It isn't about writing ability; it's something about my thought processes, I guess, and that's tougher to pin down. The discussion was whether my dissertation is about preaching, or the Holy Spirit, or the role of the Holy Spirit in preaching, or the role of the Holy Spirit in the sacramental life of the church; and my response is pretty much, "...All of the above?" Which doesn't seem to be working for anyone. So, I don't know. My advisor wants to see a revised outline in two weeks (which, I have to remind myself, sounds like a long time, but probably amounts to 32 hours of work if I'm being super optimistic), so I'll nail it down one way or another.

Since I spent most of this week reading my classmates' excerpts in order to give them feedback (I ultimately have to read each draft about 4 times in order to come up with good comments/questions; it isn't something I can cram in the night before), I don't have anything else to report productivity-wise. That's okay. It's always an interesting and worthwhile exercise reading others' work. I don't even mind, much, that I am nearly the farthest behind at this point. They're a good group of guys (and women -- we've been slowly gaining some).

Anyway. That's done. I don't have to worry about another meeting until January. Maybe I'll be in better form by then.


  1. I think it's the INFJ thought process, or really, the Intuitive-Feeler thought process, as opposed to the Sensory-Thinker or Intuitive-Thinker or Sensory-Feeler thought processes.

    It seems more "cloudy" and is less linear, because the thinking feels more like a coherent/organic whole than a linear procession of propositions. When I think, it's more like a "feel" of a bunch of connected things, beautiful or sad or important and complicated, that takes great effort to put into words. It takes effort, but once you do, it's all worth it.

    I remember a classmate of mine, who mentioned he always read 2 of the historiography weekly essays out of the whole class of 20 or so. He would read a brilliant Intuitive-Thinker classmate's essay because hers were always so logically "tight", and then he would read mine because "it always ended up somewhere he'd never thought of before." So if Intuitive-Feelers are not the best at making propositional linear reasonings, we are apparently able to make connections and draw out meaning in a way that other people miss. I think it's because, ultimately, Truth isn't propositional (that's just a crutch for our limited spacetime) but a Person.

    1. Yes! I love the way you've put this. That's just what thinking is like for me -- and also why having to articulate my thoughts on the spot is sometimes like pulling teeth.