It feels like last year has been the most productive for me in terms of actually getting things done. Whether that's actually true or not, it was still nice to actually have a good bit to show for the time I've put in. I *finished* two chapters (of course, they'll need a lot of revising before they are really good to go), and presented my first paper at an academic conference. Yippee!
As far as my chapters go, I am now *done* with my section on parenting. Finally, and thank goodness. I now have four chapters all together, for what will be about 60% of my thesis. The first half of the year I was working on a book by a Roman Catholic theologian, Florence Caffrey Bourg. Her book, Where Two Or Three Are Gathered, deals with the doctrine of domestic church-- the idea that a person's family not only can be but should be a small version of the church, and the place where all members (especially children) can best come to know Christ and learn how to live lives of faith. This is done by learning to see Christ in everyday, *ordinary* events, and of learning to better love and serve Christ through any and every thing we do. Needless to say, I really like this view. =) So I've now added a chapter on Bourg and domestic church to my previous two on Barth and Hauerwas. That was the first chapter for this year, and let me tell you, it was like pulling teeth to get it written, even though I actually enjoyed the concept of domestic church. It didn't much help that I had to get it finished before I could write the paper for my conference presentation... it was down to the wire, but I got there. And it was okay, at least for now.
The conference was the Scottish Theology Postgraduate Conference, which met for a day here in Aberdeen in July. My paper was a short pre-chapter version of what turned into my latest chapter-- I took my three theologians and put their different emphases and views together to make my own picture of Christian parenting. Three chapters of 15-20,000 words each, condensed into 8 pages, or 20 minutes. I was nervous, both about the content as well as the presentation, but it all went better than I expected. There were only about 20 people there, plus Brian (my supervisor), who was the one running the session. Luckily for me, the front row was full of my fellow female *theologicans*. =) That made it much better, to have smiling friendly faces cheering me on. Although it was very nerve-wracking, and I always get terribly nervous, I am sure there will be more chances to perfect my public speaking and share my work in the future... although I hope there aren't too many, ha! =)
Finally, I had to turn my three individual theologian chapters into one big chapter, where I expanded my own thoughts on their approaches to Christian parenting. After having distilled it all into eight pages for the paper, it was actually harder for me to expand it into 30 pages. (I didn't quite make 30, but it was close.) Having dealt with this material for so long, you would think it would have been easy to pull it all together-- it wasn't! I'm still not happy with it, really, and I'll have a heckuva lot of work to do on it before it'll be worth submitting... but it's at least on paper, and a passable work-in-progress. The progress will just have to wait a bit longer; I just couldn't keep going on the parenting stuff any more. It is nice to have that behind me for now. The going back to it will probably be better once I've been away from it for a while (or at least I hope). Besides, it was getting harder and harder to keep thinking and reading and writing in that area-- I feel like an imposter writing on parenting when I don't have children of my own. At times, it gets kind of depressing, as well, since I would like to be married and have children... so I'm glad to be taking a break from that and going back to the literature side of things. That's the part I really love anyway!
Up next... Other University Issues!