And now to take what has been an oh so stimulating blog of late and make it… dry and boring? Perhaps.
So, as I think I’ve shared before I have three academic goals for this semester of self-study. But to recap, they are:
- Teach self German to the point of competency in reading for the purposes of being able to pass a exam in the spring (and ideally to be able to do research in German some day too!)
- Participate in a guided reading on a new manuscript written by a prof at my school on the practices of Christian faith in the early church in North Africa AND read background source material from Tertullian.
- Work at chipping away at the 10 single spaced page bibliography of books I am to read in my first three years of study, before I take exams sometime my third or fourth year.
Well, I’ve been diligently working at German, every day. I spent a week plus translating a few chapters of the Gospel of Matthew and then, gleefully, started working with a “German for Reading” textbook that the German class on campus is using. It turns out I have a much older edition of the book, but ah well… it is not like the language has changed dramatically (even if the country has! I’ve been translating bits, in present tense, about a divided Germany!) I thought I was way behind the class, but just discovered I’m actually ahead of the class, so I took the last two days to create vocab cards (over 300 already! whoa! in three weeks?!! and that’s not including all the words I have internalized from my month of study in Germany a few years ago! sweet! I LOVE learning languages!) and to review basic grammar that I used to know, but have been faking my way around for the past few weeks. I now am confident about the declension of German articles and basic verb conjugations as well. Phew.
I spent the first week of study reading the historical background in the manuscript for my guided reading. As I understand it that was all I was supposed to do in January for this “course”, so I shifted to goal number 3, exam reading. “Where to begin?” I wondered. I scanned the long list of books and came to the doctrinal section and decided that spending time reading as much ecclesiology as possible this semester made sense because this is my area of interest, and maybe, possibly, it will begin to move me towards greater clarity about desired research down the road. I realized that I might own a few of the books in this category. I searched my bookshelves and found that indeed I own, oh, let me check again… 6 out of the 16 in this category! (16 in this category alone…. this is a serious list folks! I need to say though… it was a moment of vocational affirmation reviewing this LONG bibliography a few weeks ago and thinking “Hey, I actually WANT to read all of these books!” Knowing if I can… that is another matter altogether!) Though I own six of these books, I have only read one in full before (a LONG time ago) and parts of three of them, and nothing at all of two of them. I decided to start with a fairly unintimidating (spell check tells me this isn’t a word, but… oh well.) little book that I had not read at all before. I finished said book yesterday after reading it a few chapters at a time over the past week or so. (I need to pick up my pace.)
I know that I am greatly assisted when I take some time to write about whatever I have just read, that I might remember something of it later on. But I am fairly unmotivated to do this without anyone requiring it. So I’m thinking that I may use this blog for little book reports as I finish books on this reading list. I will certainly understand if no one reads them, but at least I can pretend that someone will so I will feel motivated to get them written!
My first report is the task I have assigned to myself for the next hour or two. It will be on Avery Dulles’ Models of the Church.
These reports will not be polished and they likely will not be profound. They are notes. Just notes. Please don’t read if you want polished perfection! Now, my goodness… it sounds like I don’t want you to read, but I most certainly do. (Reverse psychology, perhaps?) And if you do read, please feel free to ask questions to further or clarify my reflection or to add insights of your own!