Dissertation Acknowledgements

In the next couple days, I’m wrapping up Draft No. 3, the penultimate version of my dissertation.  Kenda Dean, my advisor, will look it over, and early next week she’ll distribute it to the other three members of my dissertation committee.  How this works is, Kenda tells them which page numbers of the dissertation will most interest them — usually, the sections where I deal directly with their work.  While they, of course, can read the whole thing, professors’ schedules being what they are, they may not get to it.

Kenda will then funnel their observations back to me, later this month, and then I’ve got until March 15 to make those revisions, format the thing to very exacting specifications, and get it in hard copy to the PhD Studies Office at Princeton (Theological Seminary).

Among the finishing touches I’ve had to put on is the acknowledgements section.  While I won’t disclose the entirety just yet, here’s what I wrote about Kenda, [Read more...]

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.

Almost Christian: Final Thoughts and Links

I’m blogging through Kenda Creasy Dean’s new book, Almost Christian, a theological follow up to Christian Smith’s Soul Searching. I hope you’ll join me. Find all the posts here.

To end the series on Kenda’s book, a few links for further reading.  First, CNN posted an article with the title, “Author: More Teens Becoming ‘Fake’ Christians“:

No matter their background, Dean says committed Christian teens share four traits: They have a personal story about God they can share, a deep connection to a faith community, a sense of purpose and a sense of hope about their future.

“There are countless studies that show that religious teenagers do better in school, have better relationships with their parents and engage in less high-risk behavior,” she says. “They do a lot of things that parents pray for.”

Dean, a United Methodist Church minister who says parents are the most important influence on their children’s faith, places the ultimate blame for teens’ religious apathy on adults.

[Read more...]

Almost Christian: Make No Small Plans

I’m blogging through Kenda Creasy Dean’s new book, Almost Christian, a theological follow up to Christian Smith’s Soul Searching. I hope you’ll join me. Find all the posts here.

Kenda’s final chapter and conclusion is called, “Make No Small Plans: A Case for Hope,” and in it she attempts to find the good news in the otherwise rather dreary conclusions of the NSYR and the finding that most American teens practice a version of Christianity called, “Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism.”

She recounts the five years of reflecting on the findings as full of sleepless nights.  And she told CNN that her time on the NSYR interview team was “one of the most depressing summers of her life.”  Five years later, she has drawn two conclusions:

  1. When it comes to vapid Christianity, teenagers are not the problem — the church is.
  2. The church is also the solution.

Kenda is tough on the church in this chapter, and throughout the book, arguing that “the contemporary church has strayed, often badly, from the course set before us by the earliest followers of Jesus…”  But, she hasn’t lost hope, and she round out the book with these five encouragements/challenges:

  1. [Read more...]


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