Well, I sat in defense of my thesis yesterday and it went pretty well. Many jokes were made about how one should not sleep the night before one's execution, and I'll admit to a high degree of anxiousness, but it wasn't that bad. I was privileged and honoured to not only be evaluated by three smart scholars but by three wise ones as well. They were pretty irenic even in their moments of polemic!
At one point my supervisor said they had not made me sweat enough yet, and I informed him that I'd already wet my pants.
What I wanted to comment on here, however, is one of the positive comments that was made that I was really proud of, and before you click away suspecting I'm going to start boasting, please hear me out.
One of my readers said how thrilled he was to see that I had written this thesis and read Chesterton's novel in community. This was tipped off for him by the numerous footnotes to people I knew from Chesterton classes and conferences as well as from this seminary community. He rightly noted something that I knew all along and wish I could have done more to point out other than a few footnotes and an already lengthy-enough acknowledgments page, and that is that I could not have learned what I learned or wrote what I wrote without friends, family, peers, and supervisors who were willing to talk with me along the way.
In fact, there were far more than I footnoted: My brothers and my Dad whose voices are in my head whenever I throw a new idea around; The guy who pushed me in a debate to consider there was any substance to Chesterton's flare; The people in class who took the risk of sharing a differing perspective, or managed to voice their affirmation of my perspective without sliding into mere flattery; The friends here at seminary who not only were there for me when I needed them most but were not there when I didn't need them most!
Many jokes were made about what I hermit I was in the last weeks leading up to my due date, and I was honoured by the grace of my community to be always there for me and support me so thoroughly. I am grateful for the grace of the community in which I've found myself; friends far and near; debate opponents; and of course my family who made every sacrifice with me.
Anyway, it was an honour to have it said that I practiced reading in community, because I believe in this with all of my heart. Anyone who reads alone, has not yet learned very much. I like it when I read a book and let it bounce around not only my head but my heart and my relationships because by the end I find that the book is also reading me.