Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A title: "Thanatologist"

As I was leaving my "Graduate School prep" lecture two weeks ago, lovingly planned by the programme to allow us the freedom in using Oxford's resources--my heart was pounding. Realistically, I was watching the rest of my housemates attempt to put together a year plan: GRE tests, reccomedations, applications, internships, fellowships....and it suddenly became apparent that I no longer had the time to gingerly consider each of my options! Graduation this May could not seem more implausible--I mean, I worked so hard to get to Oxford that I neglected to consider: "What Now?" 

Most of you who've spent any length of time with me have watched me develop a budding interest in both ministry and dying individuals. If you've been truly blessed, you've probably patiently sat through "Tuesday's With Morrie" for the 15th time, heard my analysis of the importance of "Charlotte's Web" as a lesson about the brevity of life,  listened to me discuss my inspiration with my Grandmother's death in 2001, got a chance to read my "Living Will" when I decided to take a "Death and Dying" class last year--and even watched me do mental cartwheels at the discovery of Margaret Edson's play "Wit".

...How does this tie in? 
Well, I'd like to explain it to you all individually, but for the purposes of the blog--I will use this medium for now. 
I left that lecture entirely confused, and went home ready to Google my future to the extremes. 
I never in my wildest dreams imagined I'd find it--the Lord's faithfulness is near to me.

In the next few years, I plan to save money and prepare for continuing graduate studies for a Masters in "Thanatology". (I encourage you to Wikipedia the discipline that finally, upon finding, brought teardrops to my eyes!) 
The goal of the narrow field is largely a ministry goal--pallative care for dying individuals and death education.

SO, as a Christian Ed Ministry major, I was given the opportunity to be featured in this semester's newsletter and to write about my experience at Biola and with the program, etc. 
In case you are interested--the following was my response.

"When I entered Biola as a na├»ve freshman, my intention was remarkably narrow and surprisingly simple: I wanted to learn how to “do” ministry. Several years later, I am convinced that of all the adages Christian Education Ministries has taught me, it began with this truth: at its core, my life already was a ministry.
It has taken me the past few years to learn and relearn this truth (as it should with any pearl of wisdom), and with each approach comes the coy temptation to experience new freedom.

As I attempt to encapsulate all that I’ve gleaned through the CEM program, I realize it would take much more than a few hearty paragraphs. I pray my words can convey much with the little space in which they dwell.
The obvious place to start with is all that I have learned and continue to learn through CEM. I’ve researched the philosophy behind Christian Education and why it is so valuable to equip the body of Christ. I’ve learned the importance of ministering and administering, and how to best utilize the specific resources God provides.
I’ve harnessed and treasured my creativity, however strange it may seem to employ multi-colored and eclectic illustrations for the goal of scriptural truth! I’ve successfully suffered through my internship (much to my chagrin), and have seen the essential need to prepare and contextualize in teaching. I’ve tested the need for evangelism anywhere and at any time, learning to never compromise the truth of the Gospel for cultural relativity. And perhaps the most essential piece for my own journey: I’ve learned the necessity of knowing and assessing my own soul, before I minister to anyone else.

Combining my passions into something God could best use has proved to be a daunting task, a bit more like a feverish search for Waldo than a pursuit by Holy Spirit’s divine leading. I decided the best way to learn where I needed to be was to experience every possible opportunity. I’ve been involved with a youth ministry for three years, dabbled in areas of campus leadership as both an SOS leader and a Resident Assistant, and joined more outside ministries and missions trips than any one person should properly handle! Exhausted and a little discouraged, I will admit I started to run exclusively on all the energy I could muster up.
Yet as my definition of ministry began to broaden, I discovered other joys God had given me, and started to use them! An avid lover of a novel’s role in exposing deeper realities, I took on a minor in English Literature. Now approaching my last semester at Biola, I am finishing up coursework in the English discipline at Oxford University. Through pursuit of a more intensive academia, the Lord has allowed me to redefine my life’s ministry.

With the help of much research and affirmation, I’ve uncovered a fascination with the human condition approaching death. I’m currently researching a thesis concerning literature that illuminates issues surrounding death. Be it a loss of personhood or stunted grief, the more I’ve uncovered these issues—the more I’ve been drawn towards a field I sensed existed but knew nothing about!

I now plan to continue on to do graduate work in Thanatology, a field that studies death and the grieving process of those left behind. Looking back, I cannot imagine better preparation for a career that will ultimately prove to be: holistic ministry.

The journey towards “doing” ministry involved much knowledge and experience. I then learned to broaden my perspective and allow the pieces of several specific interests to fall into place. For rich preparation, sincerely involved faculty, and an intimate community of students—I thank the CEM program."


Samantha said...

It's so cool that you've figured that out. I wish I could actually talk to you about it because it sounds really interesting. Plus I just miss talking to you. :)

Anonymous said...

i know how exciting that feeling is to find something you find a connect towards. especially if it is what you picture yourself doing it. we can do anything and place definition into anything. we don't need wikipedia at all because we knew all along

Anonymous said...


thanks for good reads during finals week aubrie. hehe

Michael said...

So this is the first time I have seen your blog and the picture in the background is of your desk...which is now completely cleared. It was sad...

Anonymous said...

death in greek is thanatos