I had a very fruitful meeting with my academic supervisor today. It wasn’t intended as anything other than a bit of a catch up, but it turned out to be a most useful boost. I know that I’m only 5 weeks into the Masters course, but I was already feeling that I was lacking focus and direction. I knew where one 5k-word essay was coming from but the others were still somewhat vague (nebulous even and at risk of ending up in a quagmire). I’m not saying that the revised track is better focused, but it does seem to fit well and is a bit more interesting than what I had planned originally.
The original plan was to follow up on the other areas of eschatology that I hadn’t done for my honours dissertation. That morphed slightly into seeing how the language of inaugurated eschatology might engage with Emerging Church (which seems, to me, to have a very strong ‘realised eschatology’ outlook). However that may have been fine for the dissertation but I was struggling to pull the three 5k-word essays out of the mire without them impinging too much on the main dissertation.
Then along came Barth and one of the 5k-word essays was sorted. Still keeping Emerging Church in the frame, I will be looking at ‘community’. This seems to be a major ‘thing’ with Emerging Church movements, so it seems reasonable to look at it and critique it using Barth. Not that Barth is necessarily the best theologian with which to engage EC on this subject, but it does allow me to meet the assessment criteria for the course and is vaguely relevant to the overall research project.
But what of the other two 5k-word essays? Well, a cunning plan ’emerged’ during today’s discussion. I hope to audit the Scottish Theology course next semester and in the discussion today it was suggested that looking at, if possible, the traditional Scottish slant on Hell and Judgement would tie in nicely with the eschatology part of the research, but also provide a springboard to consider the direction that Scottish expressions of EC are taking on this subject. Are they truly emerging or starting from an entirely new perspective? How much is EC taking from its traditional roots? And so on. So, there’s essay number 2.
Essay 3 is the one that might be the most fascinating. Again, in discussion, I was asked what was actually happening in EC movements in Scotland and I had to confess to being aware of only a limited amount of work in the area – not that there isn’t a lot happening, just that my exposure to it has been limited. So it was suggested that the third assignment could be a quantative research project – actually find out who’s doing what and why. That’s a potentially huge amount of work, so it seemed logical to narrow the field somewhat and look particularly at what the Church of Scotland is doing. That might seem unnecessarily limiting, but I do have to keep it very manageable. That said, a lot of the gathered data could be used for the main dissertation, if I’m canny enough.
Which just leaves the main dissertation. There’s no reason why that can’t continue to be within the general remit of the original proposal, but I suspect that it also has a few more iterations to go through yet before the core of it emerges. It may well end up going down a very different path, but then isn’t that the whole purpose of research?