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Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

2014-08-24 16.14.23

Thanking God for a good day yesterday. Here are the notes so far:

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MTC Dec 13 a

Thanks to all those who were praying last week over the ministry training. Perhaps you were even following the Twitter-esque updates on Facebook. Praise God that we had a really good time together, noses in the Bible, chewing on some very meaty theology, wonderful singing (Salama Rohoni is new favourite for me), and a good atmosphere of fun and fellowship.

As promised to the apprentices, here are the notes and links:

And from the 2nd years programme:

And from the closing carol service:

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Writing

Even in the hitech corporate world, companies like Amazon are realising the value of writing – long hand, pen and ink and dead trees – particularly in getting your thinking clear.

“There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking.”

You could delude yourself into imagining you understood Chaucer or organic chemistry until the exact moment you tried to sit down and write a paper on the topic.

(see article here)

That’s partly why writing a research paper on a theological or biblical or pastoral issue is part of the iServe Africa apprenticeship year. Below is something we shared recently with the apprentices on “Research as discipleship” – or to put it in other words: writing a research paper is (or should be) an expression of the fruit of the Spirit…

  1. Humility 
    • Research should be a humbling exercise in itself as we start to glimpse how much we do not know or understand.  Realise that these questions may have been discussed for thousands of years and thousands have spent lifetimes researching them.
    • Once you’ve done a fair bit of work it requires a lot of humility to accept direction and criticism and to cut stuff out (‘kill your babies’).
  2. Love
    • When interviewing or interacting with people don’t manipulate; get permission to use names, quotes, responses.
    • When writing about other people or arguing with an author you disagree with, imagine they are sitting there beside you and love them.
    • When writing, think about your reader – how can you make it as easy and clear as possible – i.e. clear structure, explaining technical terms, proof reading, not just getting it all out of your head but communicating clearly to someone else for their benefit.
  3. Peace
    • Respect those you engage with – ‘Honour everyone’ (1 Pet. 2:17), ‘bless those who persecute you… so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all’ (Rom. 12:16-18), write with generosity.
    • But ‘have no fear of them’ (1 Pet. 3:14) – ‘do not fear what they fear’ (Isa. 8:12) – don’t agree with a big name because he is a big name or with the ‘scholarly consensus’ just because it is the scholarly consensus.
  4. Patience and perseverance
    • Haraka haraka haina baraka.  Data collection, reading and writing can’t be rushed.  “The real task is much harder than to be intelligent. It is to unlearn all that, to relax and to slow down.”[1]
    • Better is the end of a thing than its beginning (Ecc. 7:8) – write down anything, keep writing, revise, revise, keep going, finish.
  5. Faithfulness and honesty
    • Don’t use fallacious arguments e.g. a ‘straw man’ or a false dichotomy.
    • Don’t make an assertion without evidence.
    • Don’t cut corners or pretend to have more evidence than you have.
    • Don’t just look for evidence that supports your argument – look just as diligently for counter-evidence and be willing to change to fit the truth.
    • Don’t steal words (Jer. 23:30) – When using sources (whether books, internet or spoken) reference properly with the author, the title, date of publication and the page number whether you are paraphrasing or quoting their words with speech marks.
  6. Joy – Research as enjoying Jesus. Never divorce mind and heart, doctrine and praise. It’s normal to use the third person rather than the first person and there must be evidence for what you say but never forget what and who you are writing about.
There’s some more on research papers to download here (especially for the current apprentices but may be of help to others).

[1] George Watson, Writing a Thesis: a guide to long essays and dissertations, Harlow: 1987, p. 11.

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