For my Symbolics class (that’s the class where we study the creeds and confessions of the Church), I’m going to be writing a paper on the part of the Nicene Creed that says: “And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” One of our assigned books this semester is called A Manual for Writers, a book that helps us write better research papers. At the beginning of the book, the author stresses the importance of asking the right questions of your topic, much like a detective or an interrogator. So I decided to apply this advice while researching my Symbolics topic:
You know the scene. There’s a single light bulb hanging low over the center of the table. You’re at one end of the table, your topic’s at the other. He’s all cocky and relaxed at first; you aren’t getting anything out of him. Why not play into this a little, you figure, Let him feel like he’s in control. So you start with some easy questions, the expected ones.
“So you’re the last two lines in the Nicene Creed, eh?”
“Been around a long time.”
“Mind telling me how you got there?”
“Not much of a secret. Constantinople, 381 A.D. The bishops thought the Creed was incomplete without me, so they modified the original and threw me in at the end.”
“I see. So you were Latin, originally.”
“Greek,” he says, coolly.
He gives you straightforward answers, and they’re true, too. But you can tell that he knows you’re up to something. He isn’t stupid, this topic. You’re not the first person to question him, but he knows that you’re no rookie, either. He asks you what this is all about. You figure it’s time to get serious, so you offer him a cigarette. He refuses.
“Symbolics class,” you reply. “Under Dr. Van Vliet at the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary.”
The names drop like Luongo on a rebound. The relaxed attitude’s gone all of a sudden, and you’ve got him on the defensive.
“You think you’re pretty smart,” he sneers. “Yeah, I know you guys over there.”
“Good,” you say. “Then you’ll know that you’re not getting out of here until I get what I want.”
“I’m not giving you anything until I get a lawyer!” he snaps.
Your chair flies backwards as you stand up and slam your hands on the table. “Creeds don’t get lawyers. You’re only words!”
This hits home. He buries his face in his hands, weeping openly. You take a few breaths to calm down, but you remain standing. You slide the pack of cigarettes across the table, and this time he takes one. You light it for him.
“Ok,” you say quietly. “Let’s try this again.”
[For the rest, you’ll have to read my paper.]