Deadlines have been looming again so that’s why it’s been a bit quiet here. Monday (14th) is the due date for the coursework portfolio for my Pastoral Care placement at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh. The total word count for the three pieces to be submitted is around 8500 words – not far short of an honours dissertation. The verbatim and the fieldwork report were fairly straightforward but I struggled a bit to get a handle on the essay. The assignment was to take a week from last semester’s Pastoral Theology course (we did a different theological approach to pastoral care each week) and relate the theory to the practice. Well, I have to be honest and confess that this is difficult for me. It’s not that the theology isn’t there but to me it seems very nebulous – but that’s the burden I carry for preferring systematic theology apparently. So I took a bit of a cop-out approach and chose the opening week to engage with. It’s about the ‘integrity’ of pastoral care and I did actually uncover, and wrestle with, a fair bit of theology after all.
Anyway, it’s all done now. It’s probably not great since it doesn’t quite tick all the boxes, but it should be good enough for a pass. the marking for this course, I’m told, is pretty tough. That was obvious from last semester – no-one got an ‘A’ (above 70%) and the majority of the marks well clustered in the low 60s. Still, a B or even a C should keep me on course for an acceptable honours level (acceptable to me since I know what I should be capable of).
I also got notification of the courses running next year and I’ve whittled them down to a handful of choices. We’ve got four courses to choose – the dissertation counts for two. Two of them are mandatory – Biblical Interpretation and Church, Sacraments and Ministry – so that leaves only two free choices. The mandatory courses run as 1 each semester. The other courses can be divided up as we see fit (and as the timetable allows). So I can do ‘2 and 2’ or ‘3 and 1’ or ‘1 and 3’. I don’t think ‘1and3’ is a sensible choice as that would put too much pressure on if my dissertation wasn’t coming together. There’s a course in the 1st semester I want to do and that’s New Testament Texts, looking primarily at Acts. If I wanted to do 3 courses in semester 1 then my only other real option would be Conversing with Karl Barth which is the systematics course. Well, I’ve decided I’m not that much of a masochist, particularly as there are a couple of course in semester 2 that I would really enjoy but can’t decide between them.
The first is Doctrine of Creation run by Prof. Fergusson who is an excellent lecturer and very knowledgeable. It looks at various classical and modern understandings of creation and picks up on some of the science-religion disputes. The other course I’d like to do is Science and Christian Theology looking at a broad sweep of popular science v religion controversies and how theology has responded to them. The course is taught by Revd Canon Michael Fuller whom I don’t know. He is an Episcopalian and seems to be involved in various science/theology projects.
Of course, there’s always The Creation of Protestant Scotland or The Writings of the Apostle Paul but I don’t like history and I think the latter would be too unbalanced a course, with too much Biblical studies (can I say that and not be called a heretic or a liberal?).
All that and I’m still trying to decide what I should do for a dissertation.
Oh yes, and there’s the small matter of my Assessment Conference looming in the first weekend in May and lots of exam revision in the meantime. My first exam is just a few days after the conference. So maybe while I’m up for air (did I mention I’m also preaching on Sunday evening?) I’d better grab a huge lungful. The next few weeks are going to be busy.