Recently I took time out of a holiday to finish preparing a conference paper. At the same time I could see a colleague becoming more stressed with the pressure of their work load, and read an article by the Vice Chancellor of a large British university, in which he admitted that university staff could not be expected to absorb any more work.
At one of our postgrads’ discussions, a friend doing a PhD in literature was sharing how difficult it is to attribute special authority to the Bible in the English faculty, where a first principal is that all texts are treated equally. Must we just make a special exception for this book, and take the ridicule on the (other) cheek?
A guest post by George Parsons
To do a PhD is to experience a unique form of chronic suffering. Thus, a description of the subtle downward drag of depression (to which working on a PhD, especially in the final stages, with its elements of exertion, isolation, uncertainty and anxiety, all over a long period, seems often to lead) resonates with me as I battle on with my thesis: ‘Depression says, “Surrender.” The message is relentless, and many comply, because even when you know that there is a purpose to your suffering, the battle seems too long.’
For many of us, Easter has strong associations with studying. The Easter holiday is the one you won’t really get if you’re coming up to big exams, because Easter term is exam term. Easter also comes when preparations for end-of-year performances and summer sporting events step up a gear. In some of the most intense years of our lives, Easter can seem to be brushed aside by ambition.
So far in this series we’ve looked at the why and the what of Christian postgraduate groups. Some of our readers will already be involved in such groups. But there are plenty of universities in the UK where no such group exists at all. The cpgrad.org.uk site has been around for years, and has a list of Christian postgraduate groups. There may be some gaps (do leave a comment here if you notice any), but most of the established groups are probably there, and it’s not a long list!
In the last blog post Eline wrote that the main aim of Christian postgraduate groups is “to help each other to live out our calling as Christian postgraduates,” explaining that “As a Christian postgraduate, you are called to carry out your research in a way that is faithful – filled with faith, and faithful to God’s purposes.”
You’re a postgraduate with a busy research schedule, spending long hours in the lab or poring over books. You’re also a Christian, involved in a local church. You attend a church Bible study or house group, and maybe you are active in a particular ministry within the church. Why would you want to fill your precious free time with attending another group?
Bruce Wearne presented this paper at the Faith-in-Scholarship Postgraduate Leaders’ Conference in Leeds, February 2014
For it is not the one commending himself who is accepted, but the one whom the Lord commends.
2 Corinthians 10:18
Let’s engage our imaginations for a minute with respect to the event at the end of your search for academic qualifications. What is to happen? What has been the purpose of all this striving?
This is the title of a book by George Marsden – and it’s also the title that David Hanson took for his talk at the recent FiSch leaders’ conference. In this and the next few posts, we’ll share some of the things we heard at this conference, which took place in Leeds on 31 Jan – 1 Feb.