Normally the end of the semester doesn’t bring a profound sense of relief. You’d think it should, and I always expect that it will, but the last exam sort of blends into the last chapel into the potluck lunch into a nap into the evening party. Saturday morning you wake up and the entire academic metanarrative that had provided a home and routine for your thoughts and actions has dissolved, as much gone now as it was very present Friday morning. And it was present, seeing as the final exam was Church History. Not only was there a lot of material to go through, Dr. Van Raalte had also threatened a question or two that would “separate the men from the boys.” I high-fived boyhood before going in to the exam, but the questions were all graciously from the review sheet. I think I did okay. And I also felt that elusive sense of relief, about four lines from the end of the exam’s final essay question. I felt as though I’d come to the end of a whole mess of troubles and stress, and the relief came in the form of, “I get to go fishing tomorrow and I don’t have to feel guilty about it.”
So there were troubles and stress, as there should be, but overall I found myself pleasurably immersed in the learning of this past semester. I don’t know if this is true of all seminary wives, but it’s absolutely true of mine that she was my sounding board for everything from Hittite vassal treaties to whether enlightened people could believe in hell to whatever synthesis of ideas was currently cooking in the synapses. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she could have passed some of my finals. Her only annoyance, I think, was that I didn’t blog enough about some of what I was passing on to her.
There were, for example, the discussions we had in Poimenics class. Poimenics comes from the Greek word for “shepherd” and in that course we discussed the practical aspects of shepherding a congregation. It being a practical course, we also had practical assignments. For one assignment we had to interview either three elders or three deacons about their work, then write a report about it. For the other assignment we had to visit one of the Anchor homes for the disabled for an evening. Third-year Randall and I visited the Beacon Home in Dunnville, where we had dinner, played cards, chatted, and led the evening devotions. So that’s the sort of class it was, lots of real life work. On a number of occasions Dr. de Visser would introduce a scenario to us and break us up into groups to discuss how we’d go about dealing with it. He gave us complicated situations, the sort for which there are no fixed solutions, which we’d go about solving anyways. We had Poimenics on Thursdays, in addition to Apologetics, so Thursday was especially talk-heavy when I’d come home for lunch.
Then there was Old Testament History and Institutions. That course fascinated me from start to finish, even if it was the worst exam I’d ever written, both for the experience of studying for and writing it, and for the disappointing mark I got to show for it all. Some students are able to swim all the way through 130+ pages of reading and lectures notes for exam prep, while others start sinking a ways from the end. Still others, like myself, can make it half way at best, and that only with those floaty wing things. Anyways, throughout the semester we studied, among other subjects, the Hittites, the Egyptians, the Philistines, and the Phoenicians, and we even explored the question of whether or not the latter were a splinter group of lapsed Israelites. We talked about the date of the exodus, under which Pharaoh the exodus happened, and whether or not Abraham’s transaction partner, Ephron the Hittite, had anything to do with the Hittite empire of King Supiluliuma a ways up north. We also had to memorize what happened in almost every chapter from Genesis 1 to Esther 10, which sounds more impressive than it really was. I do feel far more comfortable with the Old Testament now than I used to, so there’s that.
The high point of the semester was my Church History paper on the White Horse Inn. The hours spent on that were the happiest work hours of the last four months, and I even got to go to McMaster’s impressive library. I’ll probably post that paper here in the future once I’ve revised it, and maybe explain it a little bit. We’ll see.
Right now, the next step is one from the Pastoral Training Program. Arenda and the kids and I will be flying out to B.C. on Monday, and on Saturday I’ll be driving up north to Prince George. After our second year we have to do an evangelism practicum somewhere, and I chose to do mine with Jim Witteveen. I’m only one of three students actually sticking around in Canada. Two of my classmates will be going to Papua New Guinea, one to Indonesia, one to Brazil, and another to a prison ministry program in Indiana, all for varying lengths of time. My practicum will be for two weeks, after which I’ll drive back down to the Fraser Valley, we’ll fly home, and I’ll whittle away at grass for the rest of the summer. I plan on posting here throughout the summer, about school things, about my practicum, and about other things, too.