Wednesday, March 04, 2009

One More Book...

I'm working on a paper that I will be presenting in Montreal at the end of the month. It is interesting that there is always one more book I could have to make my bibliography zing! I went looking for that one more book yesterday, only to come up dry. I think it was Jim West who said that of the buying of books, there is no end. It is so true, whoever said it! But the bigger problem, and it is the demon I wrestle with every paper, is my tendency to go broad instead of deep. I love expanding the edges of any research project. I went into the stacks for just one book, the other day at the library, and returned with an armload. I quickly devoured these books and actually found a few things that help - but it is that staying with one idea and going deep that I have to put most of my energies on. My director says, if you are enjoying the writing, then you are not writing well, you are just having a good time writing. I enjoy the overall process a lot more than I do the actual activity - at least these days.

Speaking of books, I am getting impatient with waiting for the books I ordered for my comprehensive exams. I managed to find all of them through Amazon's partner used book stores! Well all except vol. 2. of Principle of Hope. This Friday I am presenting the list to our doctoral seminar. Not for their approval or even feedback at this point - the list was submitted from my committee to the faculty already. But this is the new progress reports that we are now doing monthly - it's kinda clunky to have them so often. I have to produce a two page report, but I'm thinking it will be a half page and my list (in small type!). The small mercy is that Saint Paul's philosophy on comps is not to make you responsible for massive reading lists (sorry Kenny) but for a few foundational texts on each theme. I think my largest theme is Hope Theology which is still less than 1000 pages! But it includes Moltmann, Bloch, Metz, Volf and others. I started with a list (one just this theme) as long as my arm! It was hard work to pare it down and decide just what would really let me get at that theme. I also ended up ditching a lot of the books I knew. It is not that I won't read broader - but for the comps I am responsible for precisely the texts on my list in relation to the theme that they are part of. Knowing my committee - less books is not going to make this any easier. But I'm thankful that I will still have some semblance of a summer this year!

2 comments:

kns said...

Lucky!

One of Freedom said...

Unfortunately my experience is that the narrower the material required, the more precise an answer that is expected. I have about 20 monographs and several articles and essays. So there is some breadth there, but not too much. My themes are exciting though: Hope Theology, Kingdom Theology, 20th Century North American Evangelicalism, Theological Methods (mostly to work with contextual theologies), George Eldon Ladd, Emerging Evangelical Theologies (I'm just doing missional and postmodern theologies), and the Intersection of Evangelical Theology and Political Engagement. The first four are for the written exam and the last three come into play for the panel examination. I think the biggest bugbear in the panel exam will be postmodernity - I've wisely avoided directly dealing with postmodernity and after this I will need to know Grenz's take on postmodernity backwards and forwards!