Visions of research danced in my head…

I was rustled from a sound sleep by the raucous characters I am researching for my master’s thesis. Friday I read more than 2,000 headlines and several hundred newspaper articles dating, between 1926 and 1960, about my theological antagonist. The situations depicted in the articles were unbelievable, and in many ways theatrical, so it is no wonder these words formed images that manifested in my dreams. But what made me sit up in the bed and grab my iPhone was the idea of how to organize all of what I read Friday and what I will read over the next several months, even years.

People who know me as a journalist and writer know I have to have organization. Most don’t understand it because journalists have the unfortunate reputation of being a highly unorganized lot, with notebooks and notes tucked hither, there and yonder. But that was never my approach. I need notes in an orderly form, notebooks with tabs and labels. And that is what cam to me shortly after 7a this cool Saturday morning, big binders with lots of tabs and sticky notes.

My subject, who I will reveal soon, is a slippery sort — in life and death and in research — because much of the information on him is second-hand, meaning he didn’t leave a heave paper trail, but a lot of people talked about him. I’m deconstructing the stories and accounts of others to get at who this man might have been.  But what that means is I’m reading twice as much material because I need to be able to see the biases in one writer’s description over and above another writer’s description.

So looks like I’ll be hitting up Amazon for a lot of paper, printer ink, binders and sticky notes and spending my Saturday mornings just like this, at the keyboard by 8a.

Good morning, world!


This going to be fun. And by fun I mean interesting. And by interesting I mean…

Last night I tried to finish a reading/writing assignment, but the words just weren’t there. I meant there were words there, but not the right words. The assignment was clear but I just could not seem to type the words or adequately dictate my thoughts into my dictation app. Realizing I’d hit a wall, so to speak, I went to bed.

I’d been reading and writing since about 10a Sunday morning, so when I hit the bed around 11p, I was sufficiently tired. I fell asleep in no time, but as I slept, the words came. I dreamed about my readings and had conversations with James Cone, Fredrick Ware and others during the night. Where was my dictation app when I needed it?!?

I woke up this morning about 8a, remembering I’d spoken to these theologians, but the conversation wasn’t clear in my head anymore. Drat! I could see us sitting at a table, talking about methods of doing black theology — which was the reading in question last night — but I couldn’t hear their voices anymore. But I could still hear MY voice. I remember what I said to them, and I had clear and coherent ideas in my head, at 8a on a holiday. Maaaaaaan!

So I got up, made my way downstairs to my designated work spot and got to writing, at 8a on a holiday. And here I am, at 10:45a, on a holiday, finished with two assignments and working on a third. Happy Labor Day, indeed.

Yeah, this is going to be fun.


Challenging times and prayerful responses

The ITC campus has been abuzz since last week after the news of civil allegations against a well-known Atlanta preacher hit the media. The buzz has been two- if not three-fold. One fold is because the preacher in question is an alum of ITC and is well known to many of the faculty and staff. A second fold is the question of preachers and boundaries and the third fold is how the church and the Church are being affected.

In nearly every class we’ve talked about everything EXCEPT the allegations against this preacher, which I think is a good thing. Most of the conversations have been centered on the response, or what the response should be, or should have been — from the people and from fellow clergy.

It has been an intriguing dialogue. And what I took away from it was this: pray before, during and after you speak and act. If you do, you will have a better shot at saying or doing the right thing.

This brings me to my next train of thought… me digesting the idea that I will preach in the coming weeks. This is a serious challenge for me. I’ve not yet embraced the idea of “Michelle the preacher” yet because I’m most comfortable with “Michelle the writer.” I’ve been praying on this preaching thing and not sure I’m really listening for my answer. Maybe I’m afraid of the answer. The introduction to my sermon is due Thursday. The conclusion is due the following week and the body is due the week after that.

While this is an assignment for class, it is a real sermon and the Word is not to be played with. I will need the support of all of my friends in ministry and those who are traveling this journey with me. Will you pray with me and for me?

To comment or not to comment

So I hope I’ve made it easier for the readers of my blog to comment on the blog. You don’t have to register, you only enter your name and an email address. Is that too much to ask? Seriously, let me know! I really want (and in some cases NEED) your feedback. 🙂

On a seminary note… I’m waiting to get grades back from my first two papers. I will post the grades and the papers as I get them.

Preaching through parables

This entry serves two purposes. One to make sure my posts are showing up on my Facebook page. And two, to see what you all think about the idea of storytelling in preaching.

In my preaching class, the assignment this week was to write a one-page reflection paper on the elements of storytelling. We’re reading a book called “The Preacher as Storyteller,” by Austin B. Tucker. In the first chapters he talks a lot about preachers who don’t like the idea of storytelling while preaching.

What do you think? Are there times with you think using a story in a sermon is inappropriate? Are there stories you’ve heard in sermons that you will never forget? Please share!


P.S. I’ll tell you what I got on my paper when I get the grade back.

Reisha, this is for you….

So a friend of mine suggested I start a blog chronicling my journey through seminary. After about five minutes of thought, I figured it was a genius idea and could even serve as a stress reliever from time to time. In a weird kind of  way I also thought I could keep up with assignments and things like that, all while soliciting thoughts from you, my interested family and friends. 🙂

So this first entry is just to confirm that I am in fact starting a blog and will commit to updating it several times a week… or at least after class on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

By the way, here is my class schedule, for those of you who are interested:

Monday — 6:30p-8:20p United Methodist History (Dr. Carol Helton)

Tuesday — 6p-8:40p Intro to Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (Dr. Randall Bailey)

Thursday — 6p-8:40p Intro to Preaching (Dr. Mark Lomax)

Saturday — 9a-11:40a Intro to Missiology (Dr. Tumani Nyajeka)

— Noon-2:40p Intro to Philosophy of Religion and Theology (Dr. Edward Smith)