Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Well, time for a school update . . .

As I've posted before, I've been finished with my Ph.D. classwork for some time now and had my exams to take. I'd taken a leave of absence to deal with family issues, but the time had come to fish or cut bait, as they say. My congregation graciously allowed me to cut back on a few things this January - March, so that I could take my exams in April. As the year began, I registered and began studying.

Then my father went into the hospital . . . and went again . . . and went again. Again, as I've written before, this is tough because my wife and I need to be there with him because of his dementia. When he is sick, he is prone to agitation and upset when he doesn't have someone he knows there. So, my studying took a hit. Its just very hard to get much done in the hospital.

But I tried. In the beginning of March I had one exam to pass so that I could move onto my big, three-day, comprehensive exams. Well, I didn't do well. In fact, I was pretty sure I had not passed - 95% percent or more sure. So I was pretty bummed. At the same time I got slammed with an issue in the district that sucked up a lot of time, so for three week I didn't check my school email and I didn't continue studying. (For why study for exams I won't get to take anyway?)

Well, after about three weeks I decided to log onto my school email and just get the bad news over with. Except . . . I passed. As I told my advisor, I didn't know any human being had that much grace in them! But now I was in a pickle - for my exams were to come up in a couple of weeks and I was not prepared! Both because I got set back with my father's hospitalizations, and because I had stopped studying for a few weeks. But I also don't want to keep having these things hanging over my head, and my congregation had been so gracious. So I called my advisor to see how to move forward.

Turns out my advisor never got the email I sent him to register for my exams! I don't know what
happened, if the fault was on my end, his end, or somewhere in between, but no paperwork, no necessary signatures, nothing had been done! And this is all supposed to be in place 30 days before the exams which were now two weeks away. My advisor said he would see what he could do. Originally, if all had gone according to plan, I was to take them April 10-12 which, for those of you liturgically astute, is Holy Week! Yes, the first three days of Holy Week. My advisor realized these probably weren't the best days for a pastor to be taking them, but we'll see.

So he asks for permission for special days for me, which is sometimes done. I thought maybe the first week in May, since that was finals week. Kinda makes sense. These are like my finals. Administration says no. The logistics wouldn't work out; people wouldn't be in place. They counter with some alternate dates: what about April 17, 19, 20? Well that doesn't make sense, since the days aren't consecutive (which they're supposed to be), the 17th classes aren't in session and so the logistical and personnel would be a problem that day too, and the day after Easter is still not an optimal day for a pastor! So, we counter with April 24-26. Accepted.

That gives me one week after Easter to cram for the exams. So cram I did. The days for the exams came. I woke up each morning super early to study and get my notes together, reviewed them on the Metro, and then took them. Now I must say, in my opinion the exams were quite fair - no outlandish questions, no unreasonable minutiae. And I think I did as well as I could expect. My answers fairly reflect what I know. Now the question is: is that enough? I really have no idea. Just have to wait for the results.

But, as if all that isn't enough, one more heart-stopping thing happened. On Thursday, the day after all the exams were done and I was feeling quite a sense of relief, I get a call from the Associate Director of Graduate Studies . . . there was a problem with my exams. Oh no. They didn't have one of them. You see, each day I would go to an office with a computer they had ready for me, write my answers, and then email the test to the Associate Director. Except the third day, I emailed the wrong test. So she had two copies of the second day and did not get the third. Oh no! Was it still on the computer? In the trash? I really didn't want to go back and do it again! So I gave her my account logon information and waited while she went and checked it out. I think that was the longest 30 minutes or so of my life! Then she calls me back: she found it. It was there. All was in order.

Heart, you can start beating again . . .

So that's the story right now. I am waiting for the result. What will I do then? I don't know. If I pass, the school can give me candidate status, meaning I am full steam ahead to write my dissertation. But do I want to commit to that? That means several more years of intense research and writing, including a boat load of translating that I would need to do. And will I be able? Will my father go back in the hospital and need me to be there? Will I be able to travel for sources and research? Did I have the energy to devote to such an endeavor? I don't know. I am leaning toward no right now, though many are encouraging me to keep going. If I stop (assuming I pass) I can receive a Master of Philosophy - not a small accomplishment. So we'll see.

Now, I'm trying to catch up on all the stuff I put off to study!

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