On Being a Doctor

So yesterday, in front of a gallery of a couple dozen friends, a committee of five professors from Princeton Theological Seminary questioned me about my dissertation for just over 90 minutes.  Then they dismissed all of us from the room, voted, and awarded me with the degree, Doctor of Philosophy.

Dissertation Moment (by Courtney Perry)

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Dear readers, thanks for your ongoing interest in my writing here on the blog.  Today, a non-descript Monday in a liminal part of the year, seemed like a good time for me to do a little housekeeping here on the blog.  Here are some notes and answers to a few questions that seem to linger out there among readers and commenters:

Dissertation: My committee has approved my dissertation for a public defense on April 25 at 4pm on the Princeton Theological Seminary campus.  It’s open, so you’re all invited.  That committee has also suggested many more revisions, which I’m now in the process of making.  I need to have two hard copies of the revised dissertation to campus two weeks before the defense, so that it can be read by those attending my defense.  At the defense, I’ll be encouraged to make more changes, and that version will be due at Princeton the first week of May.  Then PTS will send it to a dissertation editor who will check all the formatting and tell me what changes to make.  Then, sometime this summer, I’ll mail three copies of the final-final-final version — on linen paper no less — to Princeton for binding and placement in the library.

Rob Bell: My post on Monday, February 28 on the Rob Bell-John Piper tête à tête amoureux was the most-read post in the history of my blog.  By a long shot.  I attribute that to two things: 1) Sarah Bailey added a paragraph from my post to her much-read online article about the controversy; 2) lots of people were retweeting my post with comments like, “This is the best thing I’ve read on the #robbell controversy.”

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On Finishing a Dissertation

My sojourn to Philadelphia last week took me close enough to the gravitational center of my doctoral studies that could not help but be sucked into the tractor beam of Princeton Theological Seminary.  While there, I had a wonderful lunch with my primary advisor, Kenda Dean, during which we mapped out a schedule by which I can complete my dissertation during this academic year.

What that means, in short, is that I have to revise my first four chapters and write the fifth and final chapter by the time that she boards a plane for South Africa on January 2, 2011.  Thereby, she can read my tome on the flight (what better way to kill 20 hours?!?) and return it to me for more revisions upon her return.  Thereafter, the dissertation will be distributed to the other three members of my dissertation committee, and I will subsequently make the changes that they suggest.

Then I will take on the tedious and arduous task of formatting the dissertation, about which Princeton will truck no deviance.  To wit:

The main body is to be consecutive Arabic numbering from “1.” The page containing a chapter heading is to have the page number centered and greater than or equal to ¾in from bottom of page. The remaining pages in a chapter have the page number at the top right corner at least ½in from any edge.

On or before March 15, the dissertation must be printed and presented to the PhD Studies Office at Princeton, at which time an oral defense will be scheduled, to take place no later than the last day of April.  After the oral defense takes place, two more copies of the dissertation, printed on “high-quality, non-erasable, acid-free paper” must be submitted to the PhD Studies Office, whereupon I will be awarded the degree of philosophiae doctoris.

I write all of this for the sole purpose of informing the readers of this blog that, holy shit, I have a lot of work to do by January 2!

Thanks for your ongoing support.

On Beginning a Dissertation

So, yesterday, I actually began work, in earnest, on my dissertation.  I really haven’t touched it, and haven’t even thought about it much, since my proposal was approved and I passed my comps a couple years ago.  Well, actually, I’ve thought about it pretty much every day since about that often I hear, “So, how’s the dissertation coming?”

I’ve finished all of my research, although I’m going to have to do a bunch of reading to remind myself of everything I learned while at PTS.  I’m using Scrivener — at least for the 30-day trial — and so far I really like it.  I tend to think about writing in a fairly linear fashion, but Scriverner will help a lot as I find stuff that applies to different parts of the diss.

I dug out the brief notes I took on a phone call with my advisor, Kenda Dean, about a year ago.  So this is what I’ve got to go on:

1. Problem (and solution)
Lit review
Define terms (social movement)

2. Method
detailed descriptions of movement and specific churches

3. What did I find out?
Explicate data
Core practices

4. Moltmann – trinitarian relational ecclesiology

5. pragmatic responses

Since a literature review seems profoundly boring to work on, I’ve jumped right to the social movement work.  I’m familiarizing myself with theory on New Social Movements, since several sociologists with whom I’ve spoken have said that the emerging church movement is clearly an NSM.  The first book to tackle is Frontiers in Social Movement Theory, plus a journal article criticizing NSM theory, in which I read this:

“The ideological hegemony of the state requires counter-hegemonic actions by social movements to dismantle the dominant social views that reinforce the legitimacy of the capitalist system.”

Gotta love it!  It sounds like a quote from David Fitch’s blog!