Fall Courses at Princeton Seminary

After some adding and dropping – I think I finally have the classes I’ll be sticking with for the rest of the semester. For those who are interested, here is what I’ll be taking:

  • Calvin and the Renewal of the Church with Stacy Johnson
    I’m not all that excited to read Calvin, actually, but I think it will probably be good for me to learn Calvin better, especially as I will be needing to go before my Presbytery in a few months for my Final Assessment. I took a class with Stacy two years ago, and I really enjoyed it. We’re basically reading Calvin’s Institutes and taking an exam. That’s it.
  • Forgiveness and Reconciliation with Bo Karen Lee
    A good topic, and not too much reading. We’re looking at Miroslav Volf’s “Free of Charge” as well as Anselm and Dostoevsky.
  • The Self and the System with Bob Dykstra
    I’m looking forward to this class most. This is a pastoral care class and we’ll be looking a lot at the tension between the individual and the community/system in counseling, clinical pastoral work and in Christian theology. We are reading some really good books, books that Dykstra says have changed lives before. One classic we’re reading is Carl Rogers’ “On Becoming a Person” and we’re also reading some of the only porn we may get to read in seminary. Dykstra has a very laidback (but carefully thought out) style of teaching, and I’m looking forward to that.
  • Poetry and the Care of Souls with Donald Capps
    Apparently, this is my “easy A” course for the semester, which I don’t mind at all. I’ve heard mixed reviews of Capps’ lectures, but we’re reading some good poetry: Billy Collins, Stephen Dunn, Louise Gluck, Jane Kenyon, Yusef Komunyakaa, Stanley Kunitz, Li-Young Lee, Denise Levertov and William Stafford. The thing is, I don’t normally get or enjoy poetry. I just want to be the kind of guy who does get it. So…that’s the goal this semester. Wish me luck.
  • Senior Thesis with Kenda Creasy Dean
    I still need to find a topic, but it’s going to be something with youth ministry, Emergent, Presbymergent…any suggestions? What do you all want to read 30-40+ pages on?

Between that and all of my Cleave Design work, Presbymergent stuff and everything else, it should be a pretty busy semester.

Last “first day of school”?

Classes start today – for returning Princeton Seminary students and the new MDivs, MAs, ThMs and PhDs (pictured above). It was interesting to go through the orientation/convocation festivities last night as a student spouse – instead of when I did these same activities, 3 years ago. The conversation at dinner with Wentzel van Huyssteen was wonderful, the Convocation Address by new professor John Bowlin was challenging and the music was great. But I did seem to take both myself and the activities a little less seriously now – perhaps it’s cynicism after years at Princeton Seminary, who knows.

But this could be my last first day of school. Sure there could be continuing education events, perhaps a D.Min, but unless something dramatic happens in my life, I don’t see a PhD in my future. So this could be my last first day of school. I’m sure I’ll miss it when I’m again out of school for a few years, but it is a nice feeling to know that this is most likely the last “first day” of school for me.

The First Day of School

Today is the first day of school for the spring semester. Sarah made our lunches for us, since both of us are going to be up on campus from 11am to 6pm on Mondays. As our class started, and the professor started taking Roll, I got all ready for my name to be called. And then it happened. He passed me. Went straight from the Ch-s to the Co-s. What happened to Cleaveland? And then I realized what had happened. I’m not a “C” anymore. I’m a “W.” I’m a Walker Cleaveland – not a Cleaveland. Now, obviously I knew that, but today was my first day of having my name called at the bottom of the list. Way down there. Oh well. I’m glad to be a Walker Cleaveland.

As for classes, I am hopeful that they will be much better than last semester. This semester I’m taking:

  • Presbyterian History & Polity: Well, I’m not too excited about this course. Perhaps it will allow me to become a little more familiar with the Book of Order so that I know what I can get away with, but…not excited.
  • Pastoral Care of Couples & Families: I’m really excited about this course, which is taught by my favorite Columbia Seminary professor, Bill Harkins. The readings look great and pastoral care is still something I’m very interested in.
  • Youth & Young Adult Ministry: Taught by Rodger Nishioka, this should be a good overview of these ministries and another good chance to think about them theologically.
  • Paradigms in the Practice of Evangelism: This course is taught by Steve Hayner, who used to be the President of InterVarsity. Emergent folks tend to get a bad rap when it comes to evangelism, and I think that’s unfair. I’m looking forward to being able to think about evangelism and what it might look like for the Emergent conversation.