Settling in for this spring semester

As the semester progresses and becomes more settled (in terms of schedules, be they academic, work, or personal), I wanted to toss some of the important details out there:

Spring schedule update

Overall, I am actually extremely excited with my schedule.  The specifics as I have  begun to discover them are as follows:

Martin Luther – his Life and Thought, taught by Professor William G. Rusch, this class has thus far proven to be a fascinating lecture about Luther, interspersed with a variety of details about the historical, sociological, religious, and other contextual details which play a major role in truly understanding both Luther as a person, and then Luther the theologian.  This class is one of my favorites this semester, if the first two weeks have been any indication.

Old Testament Interpretation II, taught by the fantastic Professor Robert Wilson, has already demonstrated itself to be the best part of my week, every week.  The professor is extremely brilliant, and works in some POWERFULLY dry humor to his lecturing, which is just icing on the cake: he is teaching us about the Prophets and the Writings of the OT, and he has gone out of his way several times to warn people about shoddy interpretations, which really resonates with me (the best one being an introduction to Amos, used most powerfully by MLK, that included a call to NOT fashion ourselves prophets, as we really don’t grasp the level of commitment that entails).

Transitional Moments in Western Christianity II, taught by Professor Clarence Hardy III, is the second half of this past fall’s class, meaning it is a history course spanning ~1650 until the present day.  Professor Hardy focuses on African studies, and so this class will certainly present an enlightening view on history from a different perspective from mine; additionally, the professor is quite hilarious, so the 8:30am time slot will hopefully be survivable.

American Religious Thought & the Democratic Ideal, taught by Professor Andre Willis, should prove to the course closest to my AU experience thus far here at the Divinity School.  It is a hardcore philosophy course, wherein we are going to read a wide swath of the literature which directly or indirectly contributed to the formation of the American sense of pragmatism and its odd relationship to the faith we all seem to have in democracy (the untested kind of faith; the “we were raised believing this works” kind of faith).  The pattern of discussion is particularly interesting, as each week involves one person writing a 5 page argument about the readings; a second person writing a 2 page response to the first; and then they team-lead the discussion, all of which conspires to make for a discussion that really tests our understanding of both the concepts at hand alongside the overarching importances of that week’s readings in understanding this sort of civil faith around democracy that exists in the US.  Let’s face it: a class that starts by reading John Winthrop, Roger Williams, and Thomas Jefferson is Change I Can Believe In.

Lutheran Student Colloquium – Social Justice & Spirituality, taught by Pastor Heidi Neumark,is going to be an interesting foray into the world of community organizing and how it fits into the Lutheran church.  While not everyone in the course is looking forward to the content per se (most folks in there want to be a pastor full-time and encourage their congregations to organize the community, not organize themselves), it is actually rather refreshing to be amongst Lutherans in the otherwise ecumenical Div School community; as one friend put it, its like we have a shared language of sorts, as we all have similar enough faith outlooks to be able to be ourselves more comfortably.  As part of this semester’s Lutheran Overdose Tuesdays (as this course is after the Martin Luther class, and before Tuesday night’s Lutheran weekly vespers), it should be good.

Health update

Two major details here alongside a minor one, in the time since last I posted on the subject:

-Working hard in the basement, as previous posts here have showcased, has actually borne fruit: both of the improved-house variety, as well as the in-better-shape-as-a-result-of-6-consecutive-days-of-working kind of way.  This is a start, and a good one, but it will need to be maintained; that is partially why the next point is exciting:

-I continue to shore up my Good Habits Defenses for the coming midterm and finals seasons, which consistently makes my bad habits arise anew.  Towards that end, a new product was just put out for preorder that pairs with my Fitbit; it is a wireless scale called the Aria that does weight and % body composition, and then wirelessly syncs the data with my existing Fitbit account. As someone who responds pretty well to hard numbers, this should be a good purchase (when it eventually ships out in April or so).

-As the photos should continue to demonstrate, I have indeed been taking advantage of the free time, the space in the house, and Ryan’s interest to continue making a great deal of time to play games a bunch.  It has, I am excited to report, done great things for my health: I don’t feel any stress whatsoever, which is a peculiar state of being, for me.

Odd things learned

-Having an uninsulated laundry room is a bad thing. A bad, bad thing. While it doesn’t break any records for cold air temperature, our washer’s water pipes  froze (not entirely unexpected). What was rather unexpected/never even considered before is that laundry detergent has a gelling and then freezing point. So, I sort of have a load of frozen laundry with frozen gobs of laundry detergent sitting on it, waiting for our landlord to buy and install an automated pipe heater on the washer later this week.  Never a dull moment.

-Old Testament II is already paying off in unexpected ways.  Besides being thoroughly entertained and learning a lot, I am also making peculiar connections between Biblical ideas and the modern world.  For instance, Yale’s motto is “Light and Truth,” rendered both in Latin (‘Lux et Veritas’) and then present on the opened book, in Hebrew (‘Urim ve’Thummim’).  Light and Truth are fairly common goals for academic institutions, and so those words are often used; the  Hebrew, however, is actually referring to the Old Testament references to the divine game of lots played by Israelite high priests to determine God’s yes or no answers to prayers.  A very different (and altogether more interesting) kind of motto to have.


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