I'm finally home from the three weeks at Drew. It was a mixed time. Living in a dorm wasn't great and having constant problems trying to get through to people on my cellphone was very frustrating. The class times were generally interesting but much too long.
I enjoyed learning the Christian Futuring skills a lot and found Cassidy Dale an interesting teacher. His discussions in class and out on science fiction books, movies, and TV shows were great, his analysis of comic books (including the difference between Marvel and DC heroes) and how that plays into whether one has a knight or gardener view of the world was captivating, and his explanations for how to pick out cultural trends was very helpful. And I'm glad to have the skills to pick out cultural drivers and to know how to create and write scenarios of possible futures for any given question. I'm glad I chose to take that course instead of the preaching one.
My afternoon class on theological methods was also a good, if less exciting, one. It gave me the basic underpinnings for doing my D.Min. project by teaching about various approaches and research methods that we could choose to use, helping us define our narratives of concern, and giving us the basic skeleton for the next two years of work we'll be starting in August. Given the area my project is going to be in, Chris Hammon was a real asset, recommending various books that would have good theological background and asking me some key questions to think about.
But the best part of the three weeks was getting to spend time with the other six people who are part of my ongoing cohort for the next two years. Since my high school and college days I haven't had such a chance to spend such an extended intense period of time with a small group of people like I did these three weeks. Most of us went out to dinner together almost every night (sometimes joined by Cassidy and Chris) and the faces that I'd seen on a computer screen, the names I'd written to regularly, and the people I'd only talked with in structured classroom settings before have become not only real people, but friends. They serve different kinds of parishes-- one pastors a good sized Methodist Church in Las Vegas, one is moving from two United Church of Canada congregations in the Quebec area to a congregation near Toronto, one has a Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania, one is a Methodist minister a little outside of Seoul Korea, one has a AME congregation in South Carolina, and one is a new church planter in Nevada -- and all seem to be interested in finding new ways to engage their congregations in the 21st century. On the next to last day of class, a photographer who works for the university taking pictures for their various events came to our class to take pictures for the new D.Min. brochure. After she'd been there for a little while, she said that she'd never been with a group who were so engaged with each other and seemed to enjoy each other's company so much. I think she was right. My cohort is a great one with which to be traveling on this doctoral journey. I'm glad to be home, but I miss them already and look forward to our online discussions over the next two years and our next face-to-face time together in October.