Since we left you all in August, things have been very hectic, and I think we are only now really starting to settle in.
Arum started right away with a full teaching load and a round of teaching and research and service projects;
I started part-time at the University, where I taught two classes and will teach two more in the Spring, but also took three classes from CDSP (Intro to the Old Testament; Christian History 1; Post-Modern Christian Education) and an independent study here at the University of Arizona (Biblical Hebrew 1).
Desmond and Wallace both started in daycare/preschool at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, but next year Desmond will start Kindergarten so we will move Wallace to somewhere much closer to our work (the JCC is a 15-20 minute drive each way!).
We also began attending the nearest Episcopal Church here (St. Michael’s and All Angels), which is decidedly more “High Church” than St. Mary’s, though they have a family service we usually go to that is pretty simple.
We definitely miss St. Mary’s though, not just the perfect blending of liturgical styles, but also the lovely family-like community you all offered us: we are still a long way off from feeling like we are “at home” at any other church, I think.
I have also begun attending the campus services offered by the University of Arizona Episcopal Campus Ministry, and led by the Chaplain Fr. Ben Garren, who, as it turns out, overlapped with me and Arum at UNC-Chapel Hill by a year or two. It is a small world, indeed!
After two terms of formal seminary, I think I can now safely say that I love it, although I will reduce my course load a bit next semester, since I found three courses and part-time teaching a little too much.
I am learning so much from all of my classes, though, that it is very difficult for me not to sign up for everything I can all at once! In my Christian Education class, the larger projects really helped me think more about, and become more confident about, my own leadership in a Christian context and community.
I was put in contact with some writings, and given many exercises to do, that have really helped me expand my thinking about Christianity generally, and more specifically about how we form and are formed for Christian discipleship.
In my Old Testament class, it was really wonderful to learn more about the historical context of and the scholarly approaches to the Hebrew Bible; I am finding more and more that when I read and reflect on the lessons for daily prayer or Sunday Eucharist, I am able to contextualize what I am reading in a much richer way.
My Church History class, though it overlapped more than the others with my pre-existing knowledge, also introduced some new ideas and interesting approaches to me, and I am excited to take the second half of Church History soon, since I know far less about Christianity after the Reformation (with the exception of the Anglican Communion, about which I have taken two classes now, at the Utah Ministry Formation Program and Church Divinity School of the Pacific).
My Hebrew class at the University of Arizona, finally, will pick up where we left off in January: we are most of the way through our introductory textbook, and will likely begin reading directly from a biblical text early next year; we had already begun to read unmodified selections from the book of Ruth with some grammatical and lexical assistance. My hope is that, by the time I leave seminary, my knowledge of Hebrew will be, if not as solid as my knowledge of Greek, at least good enough to be able to muddle my way through the Psalms in the original and to appreciate something of their poetry.
In January I will return to the Church Divinity School of the Pacific for another intensive. This one is only a week, and we earn 3 credits rather than 6, but the schedule is just as packed as it was in June: we are in class all morning for Pastoral Theology I, and then after lunch until late afternoon for an elective. I opted for “Life and Death in Biology and Theology,” which is part of CDSP’s Center for Theology and Natural Sciences initiative, because it sounded absolutely fascinating.
Those classes run from January 11-15, but the professional association for mine and Arum’s scholarly discipline (formerly the American Philological Association, but now the Society for Classical Studies) is having its annual conference in San Francisco this year from January 6-9, so our whole family will travel to the Bay Area for the conference and then I will remain behind for another week. We are all very excited for the trip, but I will be missing my first two days of teaching, so I have to be very careful to prepare as much as possible before hand so that I will not start next semester already behind.
When I return to Tucson mid-January, I will start my next round of online classes. As I mentioned earlier, I have decided to reduce my course load a bit, so I will only take two classes in the Spring: an exegetical Methods class on the synoptic Gospels, and Introduction to Worship. I don’t know much about either apart from their subjects, so I will refrain from saying more until my next letter.
We continue to hope that we will have a chance to see you all soon, but we also want to thank all of you for your continued support of us, whether financial, spiritual, or emotional, even as we are far off from Provo; when we think of you all and reflect on the blessing of your presence there in our old home town, and your prayers in what is still, in our hearts, our home church, we remember that we are doing all of this in community, with the support and love of our friends in Utah, and that helps us more than you can imagine.
Thank you, and blessings on you this Christmas season and New Year!
David (and Arum, Desmond, and Wallace)
David Carlisle is a member of St. Mary's Church who moved with his family to Tucson, Arizona, last spring. He is a aspirant for ordination from the Diocese of Utah, and is participating in the extension program from the Church Divinity School of the pacific in Berkeley, California.