Thesis Presentation

To say last night went well would be an understatement. Here I was, all mentally armed to defend my thesis and they really didn’t challenge me at all. It was a bit of a let down. On the other hand, it was nice to hear such unexpected and glowing praise. I was really stunned, because the two readers I was assigned are two of of the toughest and most respected professors in the entire department.

They announced at the beginning of last night that two papers are selected from each seminar to be presented at the regional chapter meeting of the American Academy of Religion, which is the preeminent organization of religious scholars in the U.S. One of my professors asked for my permission to submit my paper for consideration by the entire faculty as one of the recommended papers. She also wants me to submit it to a undergrad thesis competition the college sponsors each spring *and* said that three professors had agreed to assist me in getting my thesis published in a religion journal.

She said that I was doing something that other scholars weren’t doing yet, and I think she used the term “post-structuralist constructivist theory for GLBT persons” – and although I can’t explain exactly what that means, it sure sounds impressive, don’t it? 😉 A lot of works like “ontology” and “epistomology” were thrown around as well. When she compared my work to the work of Michel Foucault, I almost fell off my chair. Though I haven’t read him (will start in January with my History of Sexuality class), I know enough to know that Foucault was a towering figure of 20th c. philosophy and any comparison to him, no matter how small, is quite a compliment.

My other reader was my academic advisor and my reformation theology professor who trained at the University of Munich. He told me at the dinner afterwards that he was very proud of my paper. I asked him if I did Luther and King justice and he said he was very pleased to see how I had laid out my argument and used those sources. He told me, in the larger group, he though my paper made an important contribution to reimagining the gospels in a way that places the GLBT community not merely as the recipients of the grace of the gospels, but helps make of them agents of the gospel message. Internally, I let out a sigh because I realized that I had, in fact, conveyed what I wished to convey in my paper.

So, right now I’m going through the “day after the last class” let down that I normally go through in December, when all that inner angst and anxiety floats away and what’s left is a whole that life gets to step into for a few weeks before it all starts up again. I was SO worried about this religion seminar class and what it would demand of me but it seems that I rose to the occasion and delivered, and I’m very proud of myself for that. I pursued this degree to prove to myself that I could really do it, and even though I still have four classes to go to get my degree, I know inside I’ve accomplished what I set out to accomplish and that gives me great confidence and self-esteem, to tell you the truth.

Word for the Day

OK, when reading a British journal article yesterday for my class I encountered a word I had never seen or heard before, a rare enough occurrence for me that it made me curious.

I wonder how many of you know what this word means without having to look it up? The word is : puissance.

If I give you some context, do you think you can figure it out?

“Tribes provide shelter and a way of coping with globalization and other trans-national developments, unstoppable American puissance and the apprehension felt by some over a Britain dominated by Brussels.”

Source: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Imagining the New Britain, (Routledge: New York, 2001), 4.

Religion 495 – Seminar Final Paper

Well, I finally heard back from three of my professors. One, the research methods professor that I had so much difficulty with last year, gave it to me right between the eyes about a couple of things, but I was able to slough off her hasty form of communication to see the valuable suggestions behind her ill-mannered words. She made one really good point that I must immediately address and two or three minor but helpful suggestions. So I’ll work on getting that stuff fixed this weekend. Then my two professors from my seminar class itself contacted me. One, the adjunct who is team teaching our Seminar with the department head, told me it was the “no news is good news” kind of thing. The other, the department chair, gave me critical feedback today. She also made the same point the first professor did, which is why I know I have to fix that issue with my paper (it’s a conceptual and organizational clarification they are suggesting). But she also made several other comments among them:

“Boyd, this paper is very well done. Thank you for your work. Let’s have a talk about turning this into an Honors Project, about what happens next for you (graduate school?), etc.”

and (about my explication of Dr. Martin Luther King’s work on love of the enemy presented in Strength to Love)

“This is great stuff, this whole section.”

and several WOWs and YESs and NICEs interspersed throughout – all of which made me feel really good. Now, I must admit, however, that I was NOT looking forward to the additional work necessary to turn this into a departmental honors. I’m already going to graduate with Latin honors and have decided not to do the additional thesis work for “summa cum laude” but only go after the “magna cum laude” designation, so I’m not sure I want to do a departmental honor, although that is thought of rather more highly than the general Latin honors thesis. And it looks like the speech class I was going to take in the spring term has been dropped, so I will be missing my one speech requirement class I need to graduate (but I can walk at the same time, just have to take the speech class the following year – and I wanted to be DONE with classes when I walked down that aisle!).

Anyway, I don’t know what the hell I want to do. I feel good knowing that my final major paper has been well received and with a few relatively minor corrections, it can be even better. That’s a big load off my shoulders.

On another note, we go to Advent Vespers tonight at Central Lutheran Church, led by the choirs of Augsburg College. It’s a lovely way to start off the holiday season. If you haven’t seen or attended the service before, you can click here to find out more about Advent Vespers and see the re-broadcast schedule for Twin Cities public televsion of the 2004 Emmy award-winning production.