Friday, July 18, 2014

Sabbatical Week #2

One forgets how international the student body is until the World Cup final is on TV. Watching the match with a bunch of Scottish Presbyterian clergy reminds me of my Edinburgh schooldays.  Every restaurant and bar with a TV is packed. Even the ice cream shop has a video set-up.  I'm grateful, as there are few places duller than a university town on a Sunday night.  Well, maybe Toledo, Ohio on New Year's Eve.

A muggy walk down Nassau Street to the Sociology Dept. to speak with one of their religion scholars.  They're well-known for tracking changes in culture and religion and for the depth and quantity of their publications.  While I don't expect to learn anything new, it's valuable to visit the source and, at the very least, see if there is anything on the horizon to be discovered.  It's always heartening to know that there are still some people at a university willing to study and even provoke serious consideration of religion's role in our society.

The remainder of the day is spent reading two books about millennial religious sensibility, which convince me that the biggest barrier to understanding generational spiritual change is that the meaning of words is far more protean than ever before; mainly, I think, due to increasingly sloppy primary and secondary educational standards.

More reading and organization, plus the invitation to preach and celebrate in the chapel.  They have some beautiful vestments, which I had ample time to admire, along with the beauty of the chapel's interior design, as no one attended the liturgy.  Still, a quiet reading of the Office of Evening Prayer all by myself in such surroundings is peaceful.

Travel day, as I'm conducting three interviews in Massachusetts with former teenage, now adult, members of the focus groups I used in the research for my dissertation.

Interviews continue....

The trickiest part is to take the initial interviews and see if a framework is emerging that would inform the direction of the subsequent interview questions.  While there are standard questions that are asked at every interview, if there does emerge a common theme it's always interesting to see if that continues to be something expressed in the subsequent interviews.  This means I listen to the recorded interviews again and take a lot of notes.  I think I'm getting a headache from this.