Academic follies

Big Sur, California

Firstly, speaking of academic follies, as I mentioned in thekingpin68 blog comments, Skubalon in links on his blog posted the story of a Christian in the USA involved in an academic conflict with a University. For my satire and theology readers/comment writers I will post the headline here. Please feel free to comment on this interesting topic.

Lawsuit Claims College Ordered Student to Alter Religious Views on Homosexuality, Or Be Dismissed

Secondly, I have a new and more academic article, a PhD edit, here (comments appreciated on that blog as well).

Consciousness and soul/spirit (PhD edit)

Thirdly, Academic follies

Well, I have gone over my hassles with Manchester more than once (see 'A good guy...' posted April, 2010) but other follies have occurred. Here is one example.

My first trip to see Wales, Lampeter, my new campus and my advisor was in early 2004. I was to stay a few days. I had been staying with my friend Documentary Man in Greater Manchester and had to take the journey to west Wales. See map below.

Well according to RAC and its fuel and mileage claim calculator the driving distance from Manchester to Lampeter is 157.07 miles/252.78 km and about 3 hours 24 minutes.

Having never been to that part of the UK, and having not driven on the left side of the road since 1997, I decided to take the train. British Rail had no direct route to Lampeter and so I had to take several trains without sleeping in order not to miss my changes, and eventually got close enough to Lampeter to find a bus that would drive me to the centre of Lampeter, from which I could carry my luggage to the campus.

This trip which started very early in the morning in Manchester took approximately 9 hours. I arrived in the afternoon quite tired as I still had jet lag. I had only arrived in Manchester a day or two earlier. I managed to find a main office that directed me to my room. I then cleaned myself up and introduced myself to my advisor. He stated that I must have been tired and that he would see me for a meeting that evening with a several other PhD students.

I arrived at the meeting that evening and judging from the questions being asked there was basically, as there was with me at Manchester, a fairly large gulf between what I had been taught with my first two Christian degrees, and picked up with my own research and what they had been taught within the British system.

The planned discussion which took place concentrated on the methodology of certain writers as opposed to the theology or philosophy of writers. There was more concern with the assumptions and methods of Biblical writers and those who wrote on the Bible and theology, than the philosophical views presented.

This was a different approach for the most part me, although, I did do some methodological work at Canadian Baptist Seminary at Trinity Western University, for example. But my primary focus was the views presented as opposed to how these views came to be. Having written my MPhil and PhD theses I do now have a greater appreciation for background information and methodology. There is plenty of it with my PhD although it is far less interesting for me to research and write.

Much less interesting for readers too, hence you do not see much of it.

It has its educational benefits. A concern I have with it is its potential abuse. For example, reading into Paul's objections to homosexuality in Romans 1 and I Corinthians 6, in that Paul was a single man, and perhaps homosexual and was therefore speaking against a personal struggle he had. This opposed to simply recognizing that Paul, or a scribe on behalf of Paul, had a philosophical and theological objection to homosexuality as sin.

All of the students it seemed, when presenting seemed to favour methodology over philosophy and I was thinking that as a result they all seemed more like Biblical scholars doing PhDs in Biblical Studies as opposed to one like myself who was a philosophical theologian doing a PhD in Theology, who has now basically become a philosopher of religion as well. I do Biblical Studies too, of course.

When my turn came to speak, I stated although I did not neglect backgrounds and methodology, the philosophical views were primary to me. One gentlemen from the Caribbean got quite upset by that and also by the fact I stated I used the historical grammatical method of reviewing Scripture, which would use some methodology by the way. This as opposed to what I stated was overly subjective methodological approaches that risked reading motives into the writers of Scripture and modern writers of Biblical Studies, theology and philosophy of religion.

The gentlemen insisted that I did not know what I was doing and would not pass at Lampeter. Now I had just done a 40, 000 MPhil thesis at Wales, Bangor with no revisions after marking, and so I was confident but realized, as I still do now, that I always have much to learn. He insisted that after the meeting he would get my email address and so he could send me some information on how it is done. I stated that was fine.

Admittedly, since these men (no women there, figures) were apparently more so Biblical scholars than theologians they were ahead of me in certain areas of Biblical education.

I then spoke on my work with the problem of evil and theodicy and basically received some pretty blank stares as if no one knew what I was taking about. No one challenged me and I seemed to gain respect.

The gentlemen from the Caribbean, which I deduce was a kind man basically, came up to me after the meeting and seemed a little less cocky. He asked for my email address and it contained 'grandfinale' and does one of my present ones. He then asked me what it meant. Here, I thought I was going to have some fun. I asked him if he had heard of Rush from Canada. He said, yes. I told him I was the guitar player and I did a famous solo called 2112 Grand Finale from the album All the World's a Stage. I thought he would see through my joke, but he did not and so I did not go out of my way to correct him. I think I implied I was joking, but I am not sure how clear he was on it though. I told him to feel free to email me with his instructions but I cannot remember if he ever did. He went on to state how he could only do the PhD at Lampeter for as long as his Bishop in the Caribbean would cover it financially and allow it. I thought that perhaps he was obeying the party line from the Bishop and was glad I had no such line to follow in order to maintain myself in a PhD program.

I mentioned the gentlemen to my academic advisor at a later point, and I was told he was struggling. I hope he made it.

Aberystwyth is apparently about 50 km north of Lampeter. Wales is a beautiful country, by the way.

I think I am a 'little' too young to have done that 1976 solo.

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