A fun little project …

The machine embroidered bookmarks I made for Juliette’s kindergarten class. They are a surprise gift, made in each student’s favorite color, that I will give them as the year’s final Book Nook reader on Thursday. Time consuming, but so much fun to make, using lots of different decorative stitches on my Pfaff Performance 5.0 machine. They all say “I CAN READ” on them!


WOW 2007 Quilt Show

Several weeks ago now I attended a quilt show given by a local guild to which several of my friends belong. The name of the guild is “Women of the West”, or WOW as they are known to many. I’ve been terribly tardy in getting the pictures off my camera and onto my site, but I offer these two links for you to peruse. The first link contains some of my favorite quilts that were on display. There were dozens and dozens more, but I couldn’t shoot them all: http://www.fiberguy.com/slideshow/slideshow.html#id=wow2007 The second slide show is from a “bed turning” they did at the show. The folded back each old quilt over the bed, and told it’s story, where it was from, how it was made, what people remember about it, etc. It was most fascinating. Almost a “quilts as journals” type of thing. http://www.fiberguy.com/slideshow/slideshow.html#id=bedturning Enjoy!

Four years in the making


B.A. in Religion/History

Who ever though that such a “little piece of paper” could have such enormous real and symbolic importance in one’s life? It took four years of serious hard work, from August, 2003 to June, 2007, to earn this degree – plus about 10 years before that of taking one class at a time here and there to get rid of my core curriculum requirements. Well, never mind that now. I have it. I stuck with it until I got it done. I can’t tell you how proud I am of myself for sticking with it until I was done this time. This time, I knew it was now or never. Making a big commitment to oneself and then seeing that commitment through to the end brings an immeasurable amount of self-esteem.

Hot Damn!

It’s official. The two outstanding grades I was waiting on got posted to the Augsburg computer system sometime between when I left the house for dinner and when I got back.

And I graduated with a 4.0 GPA! Now, I’m gonna go pat myself on the back a little more.

Done with School – My Brain Hurts

That’s about all I can think of right now. Good God, that was a big piece of work! I am sorta numb, in a Peggy Lee “Is that all there is to a fire?” sort of way. I thought I would have a rush of some kind of feelings yesterday when I left class, but nothing. Just walked out of class like I always did, knowing that I wasn’t going back. I did pat Old Main on the side, and thanked it for providing such a strong roof over my head for the last four years, since most of my education took place in that building. So that’s the big let down. Somehow I feel like I should have felt something I didn’t feel. I normally go into a funk for about a week each time I finish a year, so this will be no less. I remember standing in the shower this morning thinking “I don’t have ANY classes to prepare for. No homework, no reading assignments, no more tests – shit, am I REALLY done?”

On the other hand, there is a part of me that recognizes I will miss the pressure-cooker atmosphere of intellectual stimulation I have mostly encountered at Augsburg. Without a professor to guide me and challenge me to the kind of academic rigor I’ve experienced the last four years, even the most intense of my intellectual investigations won’t be the same. But I am not going to miss the homework, the massive reading lists, the late night classes, cramming for tests over lunch hours, writing essays late into the night, and leaving my abode to go to class when I’d rather be home on a Friday night or a snowy winter weekend, cuddled up with my loves around me.

I cleaned out my sewing studio this past weekend. I have four years of quilting to catch up on, and I intend to spend many an hour doing what I have loved and missed doing for so long now.

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.

The beginning of the end ….

Well, it looks as if I am going to Guatemala in January in order to fulfill my “Augsburg Experience” credit requirement to graduate next year. My student loans will cover the cost, and because the program is subsidized by the Lilly Foundation it is actually cheaper, including airfare, than a normal course. I’ll get credit for an upper division course in American Indian Studies and will have a couple of pre-travel meetings and one after-trip meeting with the group. Because of the bus size, the group will be limited to 15 students, and we are traveling with a professor of American Indian, Film and Women’s studies. We fly out on the 6th and return home to Minneapolis on the 14th.

Luckily, we will have translator for the whole trip so I won’t be forced to depend on my rusty and fading Spanish, but I’ll brush up over the next few months as time permits. I won’t have much time this fall, because my Modern Britain and Ireland class requires voluminous reading and I’m sure my Religion Seminar class (which begins tonight) not only will require much reading, but a lot of time spent thinking and writing as well.

This will also mean that most of the spring term I will only be taking one other class, so it’s a prime time to negotiate an independent study credit in history so that I can graduate with my history minor (I need three upper division classes and only have two). I’ve already broached the subject with the chair of the history department and she teaches a class called “The History of Women since 1870” and we’ve talked about modifying that curriculum or coming up with another topic, something like “The History of Sexuality in the Modern World”.

The only thing I am struggling with is whether I really want a history minor or not. If I could let that go, I could take German I & II in the winter and spring trimesters, and I wouldn’t mind having a year of German language under my belt. If I don’t take German in the spring, it’s pretty slim pickings for courses that I am interested in and I’m afraid I’ll end up taking one “blow it off” class just to fulfill my credit requirement, which isn’t really the way I want to go out.

So, it looks like my last year is off to a good start. If I can just sort out my priorities, it should be easier to set everything else up.