Today is my last day in the office before Christmas. I have been working for 3 months now on my research Ph.D. project to study the Church’s response to the Poor around the world and the effect that response has upon the Poor and the Church alike. A research Ph.D. (like any Ph.D., really) is a marathon, not a sprint. It is a long test of endurance and perseverance. As distance runners will tell you, remembering your mile markers is important. With that in mind, I’ll offer up some of my benchmarks for my first term as a Post Graduate Researcher. I wish I could sit down with each of you over a cup of coffee and talk about your thoughts and ideas about this research and tell you what I’ve discovered. Since that’s not feasible, I’ll offer up this list. I am reticent to condense it down to bullet points. The research product is much more nuanced than that. However, to get the idea across without belabouring the point too much, I’ll offer up this list.
This fall, I have:
- Generated about 19,000 words in response/critique/discovery as a part of my research. Some of this will eventually be a part of my 100,000 word thesis.
- Built a borrowing history of over 30 books from three different libraries (and we are just getting started!)
- Hit up the used bookstores for some more great volumes on my subject (I love growing my own library–and hey, we are talking about theology texts from English bookstores!)
- Discovered/Consulted/Shelved/Read almost 150 references (books, articles, etc.)
- Took a Speed Reading course (see above points)
- Studied in a library where monks first studied nearly 10 centuries ago
- Discovered writers who are among my new favourites
- Laid some foundations for my field research in the USA and Latin America next year
- Discovered the best study colleagues around–(Let’s hear it for PG5+!)
- Discovered some GREAT coffee shops in Durham! (Me, can you imagine?)
- Made friends with people from nearly a dozen countries
- Walked over 250 miles to/from campus, libraries, lecture halls, etc.
- Learned how to use the city bus system (not bad for this country boy)
- Learned how (or maybe I’m still learning) to speak Proper English
- Discovered (and still trying to conquer) EndNote X7
- Become a fan of Evernote Premium
- Discovered a whole new rhythm of worship, work, rest and play
- Preached at an American Thanksgiving Service in an English Methodist Church
- Worshipped regularly in chapels and cathedrals dating from the middle ages
- Discovered a great community friends with whom we can laugh, worship, and discover
- Grown an even deeper appreciation of my sweet family. Thank you for your courage and support and being a part of this journey, even when it took us all to another continent!
Most of all, I have grown in a new depth and awe of our Great God and all that He is doing in the individuals and communities around the world. His message of Hope, Love, and Peace is just as alive and active now as it ever has been. I am confident that the work we are doing is important. It is an important message for The United Methodist Church in the United States and, I think, for other denominations and nations. God is at work and I am privileged to explore those ways in which He is working. I look forward to sharing my ongoing discoveries about that work for years to come.
Thank you for all your support, prayers, and words of encouragement. They mean so much to us. Thank you for staying in touch through the Blog and other means. At this time last Christmas, we had no idea that we’d be here–not like this. I look forward to journeying together wherever God may take us next.