The five stages of grading-grief

Here’s a great post reflecting on the five stages of grading: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, resignation. If those sound a lot like the five stages of grief, it’s because there are close parallels between grading and grief.

My favorite:

Denial.  At this stage, the instructor is unwilling to acknowledge the size of the task ahead of him or her. An instructor in denial may be heard to say things like, “It’s not really that many essays, when you think about it.” An instructor in denial will grossly overestimate his or her potential assignment-per-hour output. Denial at the syllabus-creation stage of course development can lead to tears. Denial can also manifest itself as avoidance, where grading is put aside in favour of vastly more important activities like cleaning the fridge, baking, working out, or writing elaborate blog posts about the stages of grading.

Read the rest here.

Today we celebrate…the invention of time travel



Who are the “must reads” in theology (part 3)

In two earlier posts (see here and here), I discussed what it means to say that a theologian is a “must read.” And, I argued that we should primarily reserve such a label for people who are historical must-reads, those whose theology decisively influenced particular streams or eras. But, I also argued that we can legitimately use the label to describe people whose theology we find personally compelling or inherently valuable as well.

In the next two posts, I’m going to start a list of theologians that I think are must-reads. I’m not going to set these up as exhaustive or definitive lists, but more as works in progress. Today’s list will offer the (hopefully) less debated list of historical must-reads, and tomorrow’s will enter the fuzzy world of personal must-reads.

First, here are the principles that I will use to set up my list.

  1. I’m not including the Bible or anyone in the Bible. Those are must-reads for everyone, not just students of theology.
  2. A must-read must have decisively shaped a theological tradition, not just a particular era.
  3. The theological tradition they shaped must be one of the major traditions. (It’s hard to call someone a theological must-read for everyone if the tradition that they decisively shaped has not been terribly influential itself.)
  4. I will focus exclusively on “theological” must reads, rather than those important for other fields of study (Bible, philosophy, etc.).
  5. And, since I live and teach in America, my primary focus will be on what qualifies as a must-read for theology students in America. I’m open to the possibility that, particularly in the modern era, even the historical must-reads might begin to vary depending on one’s context. (Tomorrow’s list of must-reads will be much more obviously contextual.)

Second, even though this list should be less debatable than tomorrow’s list, I know there will still be some disagreement on people I’ve included (e.g. Barth) and probably people I’ve excluded. Again, this is a work in progress, so feel free to comment and let me know where I’ve gone wrong with the criteria or the particular individuals.

    Historical Must-Reads in Theology

    In the Early Church (up to AD 500)

    1. Athanasius
    2. Basil the Great
    3. Gregory Nazianzus
    4. Augustine
    5. Chrysostom

    In the Early Middle Ages (500-1000)

    1. Gregory the Great
    2. John of Damascus

    In the High and Late Middle Ages (up to AD 1000-1500)

    1. Anselm
    2. Aquinas
    3. Gregory Palamas

    In the Early Modern Era (AD 1500-1800)

    1. Luther
    2. Ignatius of Loyola
    3. Calvin
    4. Arminius
    5. Wesley
    6. Edwards

    In the Modern Era (1800-present)

    1. Schleiermacher
    2. Barth

    Okay, let me know what you think.

      Flotsam and jetsam (11/5)

      My own position is quite clear on this, that I have supported women Bishops in print and in person. I’ve spoken in Synod in favour of going that route, but I don’t think it’s something that ought to be done at the cost of a major division in the Church.

      I propose in contrast that God is “kenotically” or self-sacrificially infused (not by divine loss or withdrawal, but by an over-generous pouring out) into every causal joint of the creative process, yet precisely without overt disruption of apparent “randomness.”

      The title of “America’s Greatest Theologian” is pretty universally ceded to Jonathan Edwards, and after him there is a tight race for “Second Greatest.” In my opinion, Warfield is a contender for that second slot.

      • The Christian Humanist has an interesting discussion on heresy and the early creeds, specifically addressing with the early creeds alone are sufficient for defining what “heresy” really is. HT

      Free audio books from Amazon, Amazon’s audio-book company, is offering two free audio books if you sign up for a 1-month trial of their service. (I’d tell you how much it costs after that, but I didn’t bother to find out. I always cancel before the trail period runs out.) It looks like they’ve got a really good selection. So, if you have any kind of commute (like I do), this could be a good opportunity to pick up some new books for the road.

      Roundtable discussion of C.S. Lewis

      In this video, Alan Jacobs (The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis), Douglas Wilson (What I Learned in Narnia) and N. D. Wilson discuss C. S. Lewis’s writings, creativity, imagination, and the way that these relate to and express his worldview. It’s over an hour long, and I haven’t had time to watch more than a few minutes. But, it looks very interesting and should be worth your while if you have an hour or so to spare.


      On tithing the firstruits of the Halloween spoils

      David Regier has a fabulous post on the importance of kids dedicating a portion of the Halloween spoils to their fathers – From the book of Davidicus: When you eat of the spoils.

      4 Of the Reese’s®, you shall devote them all, likewise the Snickers®. But take heed, lest you try to test your father and give him Skittles® instead of M&Ms®, and thereby incur his disfavor.

      5 Of the Pixi Stix®, and the Sweet Tarts®, and the Kandy Korn®, you shall give him no part, for they are an abomination unto him. But of the Nestle Crunch® and Krackel®, you shall give him a portion, as a peace offering.

      To this I can only say a hearty “amen.”

      Make sure you read the rest of it if you’re looking for some post-Halloween entertainment.


      Flotsam and jetsam (11/4)

      The theology that is taught in almost all theological institutions around here is an ill-fitting version of Christianity that simply does not work here. The Christianity that results is not transforming lives or churches or communities or cultures or nations. In that sense, rather than reflecting what is happening theologically, these Western theologies may actually be erecting barriers preventing people here from experiencing the transforming power of the risen Christ.

      “I cannot help thinking that the incarnational analogy may be more trouble than it is worth.  Chalcedon was designed to clarify the being of Jesus Christ, not Scripture.  Please do not misunderstand: there is nothing wrong with Chalcedon, just as there was nothing wrong with the paper clip I used so cleverly in my skateboard to replace a screw.  However, that improvisation ended with a broken arm.  I wonder, then, about the wisdom of using language formulated for one truth to express another.”

      Here’s our context: they are bringing the ark to the house of Obed-edom, the future site of the Temple, and they are sacrificing. The context is cultic. The modern correlation to worship (i.e., singing) is false.

      • I forgot to mention earlier, but James McGrath has posted a link to what looks like a really useful set of resources from the Wabash Center for evaluating online resources. If you’re a teacher or student, check these out.

      Advice on applying for a teaching position

      In a recent Inside Higher Ed article, Thomas Wright offers some job-search advice based on some of the mistakes he made when applying for a teaching position. Let me summarize his main points and offer some of my own thoughts.

      1. Get to know the school. This just makes good sense. You can’t even put together a compelling application without getting to know the school, and you’ll look like an idiot in your interview if you don’t have some sense of its mission, purpose, history, student body, denominational ties, etc. You don’t have to spend months on this, but at least familiarize yourself with what’s on their website and in the school’s catalog.
      2. Don’t be afraid to apply for a position. I’ve made this mistake. You see the description of the position and you don’t think you really have a chance. Now, sometimes you’re right. If the description calls for 10 years of higher ed experience and you’re just getting started, don’t bother. But, sometimes you’re fully qualified for the position, but for some reason you don’t think you’ve got a shot (e.g., the school is too “prestigious.” Don’t sell yourself short. If you’re qualified for the position and you think you’d like to teach there, go for it. The worst that can happen is that you’ll contribute to the growing deforestation problem and global warming.
      3. Don’t be too humble. I hate this one, but it’s true. When you’re applying and interviewing for a job, this is not the time to reveal your tendency to turn everything in late, mock student questions, or dress as Little Miss Muffet every Halloween. It is the time to highlight everything that you do well. You’ll have to come up with at least a couple of “weaknesses” so you don’t sound too arrogant (e.g., I work too hard, I care about my students too much, etc.), but your main focus is to sell yourself. Usually, no one is going to do it for you.
      4. Proofread everything. Seriously, if you send in a CV or application with typos, you deserve not to get the job.
      5. Personalize your letters. This goes along with the first point. Take the time to find out who will be receiving your application and address your cover letter to them. It shows that you’ve done your homework and you’re not just blanketing the academic world with random applications.

      There are a couple of things that I would add to this list if you’re applying for a position at an evangelical college/seminary in America, since that’s the context I know best.

      1. Read the doctrinal statement carefully. This one is probably the most obvious; but it’s important. And, beyond making sure that you could actually sign the doctrinal statement, I would pay particular attention to how the statement is constructed. Are there things in the statement that you don’t think should be there? If so, does that suggest an approach to things that will be narrower and more restrictive than you would prefer? Or, have they excluded things that you think are very important? If so, does that suggest anything about the direction of the school (current or eventual)?
      2. Find out about theological hotspots early. This can be difficult if they don’t make it explicit in their doctrinal statements (and they often won’t), but the best way is usually just to ask around. If a school has really staked out some territory on a theological issue, people usually know about it. You should also check out the list of faculty and do some internet searches to see if any particular issues pop up. And, don’t just do this in your area. Even if you’re a NT specialist, if there’s a hot-button issue among the faculty, they’ll expect you to know about it and have something intelligent to say.
      3. Check out the academic/ministry balance. Every evangelical school worth its salt has to deal with the balance it wants to strike between academics and ministry. Some will lean more toward one or the other, but most try to develop what they think is the best synthesis of the two. You want to identify that mix for two reasons. First, you’ll want to know if you resonate with that approach and will be a good fit for the school. Second, you’ll want to make that the way you present yourself is consistent with that perspective. Again, the best way to do this is to ask around. But, you can also get some good hints by reading between the lines on their website and in the catalog. Pay particular attention to what they’re not saying.

      And, of course, the single best way to apply for a teaching position is to have the inside track from the very beginning. Name recognition works in academics every bit as well as it does in politics. The more people you know, the better positioned you’ll be when the time comes. Take advantage of every opportunity to meet people and get your name out there.

      Ignatius, The Ultimate Youth Pastor

      Okay, as a former youth pastor, this one just hurts. I think I met this guy at a youth retreat once. You don’t need to watch the whole thing, but it does do a nice job highlighting where youth ministry can (and often does) go terribly, horribly wrong.