The Proposal

I wanted to get in one last blog post for this year, so here it is.  This one concerns my studies.

I'm working toward a deadline next May.  At that point I have to submit my doctoral proposal to the University of Wales for approval.  Before that, however, my proposal has to be approved by the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS).  Sound confusing?  The UK system is different from the US, and it may be that OCMS is unique in the UK.  Here is how I understand the process.

I am not yet admitted to a doctoral program.  As I understand it, everyone in the UK has to go through probationary stages in order to get into a doctoral program.  My program may be more complicated than most.  First, in the UK, there are educational institutions which are not authorized to grant degrees but which are affiliated and accredited by universities which do grant degrees.  That is the case for OCMS.  While it is a top-notch Christian educational institution, it is not authorized to grant degrees.  It isn't even affiliated with Oxford University, although we are allowed to use the Oxford University library.  Instead, it is accredited with the University of Wales, and it is that university which grants the final degree.

Now, while I am enrolled in the program at OCMS, I am not yet registered at the University of Wales.  To do that I have to submit a 2,500-word research proposal (that's not a lot of words, by the way) accompanied by a 5,000-word essay and an extensive bibliography  (That's not long, either when you consider that the final dissertation will be 80,000-100,000 words long).  The deadline for submission is in May.  Before that, however, OCMS has to also approve the proposal.  The OCMS committee will meet in March to approve dissertation proposals.  So, I have to have all my work done by the end of February.  My OCMS advisor, however, wants to see a workable proposal by the end of January.  Yikes, that's one month away.

I have completed a first draft of both the proposal and the essay and sent them to my adviser.  While the research proposal seems to be mostly okay, I have some extensive revisions to make on the essay.  If you want to know more about the proposal or essay, write me.  I'm not going to reveal the title on the Internet because I want to be careful what I say and where, but if you want to know more, let me know.  

Once OCMS approves the proposal in March it will be sent to the University for approval in May.  From that point I will be registered at the University of Wales, but I will only be at a master's level.  It's kind of probationary period to see if you can cut it at the doctoral level.  After two years of research and writing, I will be reevaluated, and then I will apply for an upgrade to a doctoral level.   Up until then I can make adjustments to my proposal and my research.  After I get upgraded to the doctoral level, the real fun begins as I work on my dissertation in earnest.  I expect it will take about three years to finish my studies after the upgrade to the doctoral level.  Remember I'm only working on it 'half-time'.  That will make it around 2016 before I finish!    'And miles to go before I sleep....' 


Thanksgiving Day Traditions

Thanksgiving has always been the holiday that my family got together, even more so than Christmas.  Ever since I went away to college, my parents have lived in Manchester, CT, and we have gathered there for a family reunion and meal on Thanksgiving Day. This was the first Thanksgiving that my dad was not with us, and it hit me harder than I thought it would.  But, for the first time, we also had two special guests, Kelly Hammond (Daniel's girlfriend) and Theophilus Hines (Suzanne's boyfriend).  It was great to be together as a family and make some memories.  Here are photos of Suzanne and Theophilus:

and Daniel and Kelly:

One of the traditions on Thanksgiving Day in Manchester is the Road Race.  It has been held on Thanksgiving for the past 74 years (the second oldest race in New England next to the Boston Marathon).  It's not a long race (just 4.78 miles), but it's one of the most fun races I've ever run.  I didn't run in it this year (although I have run it in the past), but it's always a great community and social event, bringing people closer together.  Some of the top runners in the world compete, and there are so many who want to run, they have had to  limit the number of runners to 15,000! In past years, my brother twice came in 11th in the race.  Here are some of the leaders near the beginning of the race.

Many people run in costumes, and there is a contest to see who is wearing the best costume.  This year there were some dazzling costumes.  Of course, there were the many who ran in turkey costumes.  One person ran as a Christmas tree.  

Three young men jogged by dressed only in Speedos painted from head to toe in red, white, and blue and carrying an American flag.  

Another family ran by dressed as Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings.

What makes the race great, though, is not just the runners, but the spectators.  Rain, sun, or snow, there are at least as many spectators as there are runners, and they line up along the entire route.   This year there were around 20,000 spectators, including us.  They are there cheering on the runners.  I have never been in a race like that where so many people are cheering me on.  The following two pictures give you a small glimpse of the thousands of cheering spectators, some on roofs of buildings:

It makes me think of the cloud of witnesses cheering us on as we run our race.  Dad is now part of that crowd of spectators.  He's run his race and finished the course.  Now he's up there cheering us on, cheering me on, as I struggle up 'Heartbreak Hill' and stumble down the other side.  He will be there as I approach the finish line waiting to greet me as I finish my race.  Most important, Christ will be there to give me my prize.

The Thanksgiving Day Road Race has a special place in my heart.  Some of my extended family members ran the race this year.  A Moroccan man won it.  I can't remember his name.  It doesn't really matter.  It was enough to be there again and take in the spectacle.  Take a look at the runners coming in to the finish down Main Street, though.

Even though I was only a spectator this year, cheering others on, I'm still in the race of life, and I push on toward the goal for the prize.  Bravo!  Keep up the pace.  Let's keep our eyes on the goal and on Jesus.