First Seminary Paper

I have a paper due in my Education and Formation class this Friday — as described in the syllabus, it’s a five page “reflective essay about key elements, components, people, events that have contributed most to [my] education and formation as a Christian.”

This is tricky on a couple of levels.  First, I don’t like to distinguish between “Christian” education and education of any other sort.  If I consider myself to be a Christian, then all my educational experiences are part of my education as a Christian, and hence “Christian Education” (for me, at least).  Second, and even more problematic, I consider *all* experiences to be part of my education, whether intentionally so or not.  Life is an educational process.  I’d go so far as to say that in most lives, the vast majority of education happens outside the classroom, unscripted.  Even for scholars.  I’m heavily influenced by Rousseau on this one.

Back to the paper:  It’s my first grad-school paper, so I’m probably stressing over it unduly.  Unlike most papers I’ll do in the next few years, this one doesn’t seem to require any research, citations, comparative analysis (at least none outside my own brain).  It’s “reflective” in nature — as a blogger, I should be pretty good at that, right?

Still, it’s my first grad-school paper.  I have to perform.  When I finished summer Greek with a 98% average, other seminary students told me not to get used to it, that my grades would surely drop in the school year.  That annoyed me, and made me want to prove them wrong.  Here’s my first chance.  Of course, I’m also supposed to “not care about my grades” because I’m here for the education, not the grades.  Welcome to my hypocrisy.  

Really, since it’s due in less than 48 hours, what I *really* should be doing is writing the paper now, not “writing about writing” the paper.  But such is the meta-cognition of the self-obsessed blogger… Oh, and in that vein, I’m a “wikifier,” too — so I’m writing it on my wiki for the world to see (and potentially contribute, although that raises some interesting and dangerous academic questions).  Anyhow, here’s the first paragraph.  I did the English Major thing and decided to start with a metaphor.  Let me know what you think.  Suggestions for direction are welcome, too…

There was never any question if, whether, or which of the evening leftovers would go into the stew pot. In my six-person family of origin, everything that wasn’t eaten for dinner got absorbed into the big stewpot in the freezer, waiting to be thawed, reheated, and reclaimed at the end of the week. The only real question was how this particular addition would affect the taste and character of the stew when the pot was full. Thinking of this dubious family tradition provides an apt enough metaphor for my education as a Christian through the years — mixed up and messy, formed in community, experimental, more concerned with input than outcome, while still intensely practical and sustainable at the end of the day (or week, rather).

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6 Responses to First Seminary Paper

  1. Trait says:

    Great first paragraph. I found that the hardest papers to write were those in which no sources were required. I was always great at summarizing and analyzing the thoughts of others. Much harder to get a rope around my own thoughts (to add a Texas expression to your now-northeastern blog).

  2. MOM says:

    Hi Trait!
    Hi Neal! You remember your mom is on the stream feed (to see the grandkids:-) I don’t think you ever saw mashed potatoes floating in your vegetable soup. Perspectives. Difference in doing and receiving. I didn’t see “‘Christian’education'” in the assignment.

    I saw “key elements, components, people, events that have contributed, formation..” Brings to mind: concepts: wanted, loved; actions: sung to, held, listened to, adoption wanted unconditional love, people: parents, grandparents, teachers, youth leaders, friends, college professors and friends. The soup was good! with some french bread.

    BTW I received your feed 3 times. ???

  3. Neal Locke says:

    Hi Mom! Not sure why you got the feed three times. Let me know if that happens again.

    Yeah, I know I’m exaggerating a little to make a point. I also know we didn’t have the stew *every* week. The words “Christian Education” aren’t exactly in the assignment, although it does say education and formation “as a Christian,” which I take (rightly or wrongly) to mean the same thing. I like your suggestions about adoption and unconditional love — it has some spiritual overtones 😉 And yes, the soup was good, but I liked it best with crackers and butter (rather than the french bread).

    Thanks for the suggestions!

  4. Nancy says:

    I liked it. Especially, given my knowledge of family. . . . My only input that came to mind was purely stylistic, but I was travelling so couldn’t easily convey it. You’re probably better off without it anyway, as I break the rules because I can. . . .

  5. Joe says:

    Family blog! Neal, you’re dynamite and you are going to blow them away! Remember that time when we had pancake, pizza, taco stew 😀

  6. yearrr!! yer chili brings warmth to me bones, ya scallywag! Keep writing yer yarns!

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