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I’ve just returned from a week long class designed to help me finish my dissertation proposal. Having finally finished the proposal and having it pass through the first hoop, I have come to the conclusion that the class was designed to do more than help me finish the proposal.

“What” you may ask? Well I’ll tell you - It was surely designed to break us. Why else would sane men stay up to all hours of the night to make sure periods were in the right place in the bibliography (when compared to the footnotes). Does that superscript go before or after the quotes? Is that a fifth level or a fourth level? Where’s my Turabian 7th edition?!IIII Where’s my Turabian 7TH EDITION! That’s the 6th, THE 7th...7th...there is no God! ARRRGGGHHHH!

Well, in truth there is a God. There must be. For at the end of the week some of us were finished and we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Albeit, a very, very, long tunnel. The other students in the program with me comprise what is known as a ‘cohort.’ Cohort simply means a group. I don’t know why we call it a cohort and not just a ‘group,’ but I have a few guesses. (1) A cohort is a type of military division. Maybe if we don’t finish the dissertation they will put us before a firing squad, which for some of us in the cohort would be a preferable outcome. (2) A more likely reason is that it is a doctoral program. Doctoral programs have the right (ordained since the foundation of the world) to use words that no one knows except other doctoral students.

Well back to the main point. The cohort began this journey together some three years ago and with one year left to finish the elusive dissertation, the end is in sight. It has been a great ride. We went from being strangers to being brothers and sisters. We connected at a level that went beyond the few short classes we were in together. We found unity, love and respect for each other. Who would have thought a bunch of Baptists, an independent guy, and a Presbyterian could find commonality in classes that dug into the dark parts of who we are. Black, white, Taiwanese, young, old, and older (you know who you are) all finding commonality in God’s grace and the bond that working together brings.

You guys have been great. My life is richer because I have known you all. I will see you all at graduation....or firing squad.

Originally posted Saturday, November 15, 2008




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