Monday, December 13, 2010

This holiday season...

I am not going to be able to go home for Christmas; flights are just too expensive. I suppose if I had bought a ticket a few months back it would have been cheaper, but, that didn't happen. Oh well. Anyway, that means I need love from all of you this Christmas! :-D Just a note to say hello or whatever, so that I don't feel quite so alone.

At least I'll be able to have Christmas dinner with some friends from the NOOC (the place where I'm staying). And, I will have plenty of time to read, and focus on my research, which - to be honest - I need to do more of! Speaking of research, here's a little glimpse into what I'm thinking about these days:

I am considering how the concepts of sin and grace are articulated in Bonhoeffer and Kierkegaard. This involves an expansion of the concepts, beyond the definitions implicit in the minds of many Christians, and a re-capturing of the traditional picture of both sin and grace as 'states', that is, categories of being rather than specific actions (though the latter is certainly not excluded).

A quote from Bonhoeffer's Discipleship adds, I think, a particularly poignant dimension to this conceptualization:

"'Sin Boldly'--that could be for Luther only the very last bit of pastoral advice, of consolation for those who along the path of discipleship have come to know that they cannot become sin-free, who out of fear despair of God's grace. For them, 'sin boldly' is not something like a fundamental affirmation of their disobedient lives. Rather, it is the gospel of God's grace, in the presence of which we are sinners always and at every place... to whom could such a thing be said ['sin boldly'] except to those who from their hearts daily reject sin... and who are still unconsoled about their daily unfaithfulness and sin?"

This passage, I suggest, may contain a profound truth: there may come a time when we have to acknowledge the desire of some to follow Christ who nevertheless have despaired of God's grace. In that situation, what is more important--that we make sure they have eliminated their sin, or work to relieve their despair, even if their sin remains? God's grace is surely needed at that point more than ever. This is a vital question for Christian ethics.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Christmas season is upon us...

Well, it's December! We just had our first snow here in Oxford this week, and - for those who care about this sort of thing - I've decided that it's a bit colder here than in Seattle, and that it's a bit cloudier and drizzlier in Seattle. But, overall, the weather is fairly similar.

The term is over already (they are only 8 weeks long!) but that really doesn't affect me at all, since a PhD is pretty much an all-the-time sort of thing that you don't get a break from unless you want to. It's really hard to believe I've only been here two months - it feels like it's been a lot longer! But, when I think about how little I've done so far, that's when I remember that it's only been two months. :-)

Overall, I'm really liking Oxford and I'm slowly getting more involved in my academic community, as well as trying to make friends in general. There are several Americans living at the North Oxford Overseas Centre, where I'm staying. So, that's been nice. But, it's equally nice to have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and talk about their cultures and what they are doing here in Oxford.

I won't be able to go home for the holidays (I'm poor! :-P), but there will be several people around the N.O.O.C., so I'm sure we'll find things to do. They have a Christmas dinner there as well. I have a TON of reading and writing to do, but I am going to try and get out for a couple days and see some sights, etc.

Keep praying for wisdom, financially and academically. I'm wanting to make sure I really am following the right path. But, I am starting to get over my initial fear of 'not being smart enough for Oxford'! :-)

Ok, I guess that's it for now... may each of you have a blessed Advent season.


(And, happy birthday to my late sister, Julianne, who I suppose may be celebrating with angels today.)