A few months ago I passed a milestone in my own post-PhD academic life, by starting a full-time academic contract. For several years I'd been juggling two part-time contracts at neighbouring universities, adding up to roughly full-time hours and with a higher than usual concentration of teaching, so in terms of raw time commitment the move to a full-time job didn't seem particularly daunting.
Finishing a doctorate is glorious and wonderfully freeing (see previous post). But it's amazing how quickly reality sets in after a brief moment of victory. One set of goals is replaced by another and the challenge of navigating along the unmarked, foggy road of a DPhil is followed by the equally challenging task of locating the next road to take. I am a newbie to the post-viva life and very far from mastering it, but I thought I’d share a few thoughts I’ve had as I get used to this new part of the postgraduate journey.
Of all the discipleship opportunities open to Christian PhD students in the UK, perhaps the Cambridge Scholars Network offers evangelical thinkers the most sustained and intense mentoring experience you could easily apply for. This year's event runs from 12 to 18 July, and I'd like to encourage eligible readers of this blog to apply.
Recently I wrote about my impression of a predominance of religious worldviews and practices among the most celebrated mathematicians. I concluded by indicating that I wouldn't be surprised if religious worldviews were more conducive to great advances in maths and other disciplines, because of the way that faith and imagination are involved in discovery. Today I'd like to explore some slightly more specific ideas about how that might work. This is very tentative, largely because I'm clearly not one of those mathematical geniuses myself! But I wan
As 2019 has come to a close, and a new decade is beginning, I have been thinking about a poem by Emily Dickinson - one of my favourites, for its enigmatic imagery and its expression of longing: 'I did not reach Thee'. Here is the first stanza (you can read the whole thing here):
I did not reach Thee
But my feet slip nearer every day
Three Rivers and a Hill to cross
One Desert and a Sea
I shall not count the journey one
When I am telling thee.
I've always felt sad at the passing of Christmas Day: at how quickly the world moves on to Boxing-Day sales, extinguished fairy lights, discarded fir trees and raucous New-Year revelries. Perhaps it's partly nostalgia, but I yearn for those past times when the twelve days of Christmas were celebrated in full. For me, Christmas is worth lingering on, because it's a sign of the world to come.
One of my favourite pieces of Christmas music is ‘For unto us a Child is born’ from Georg Friderich Händel’s Messiah. I have loved it since I was a child, touched by its bouncing joy and the intricacy of its polyphonic choral writing, with lines appearing and disappearing like needles through the musical fabric, aligning with each other for a few ‘stitches in time’ before one vanishes to reappear a moment later in a different hue. As a music historian, I am enchanted by the majesty of Händel’s choral setting, but its glorious lyrics are what I love most.
[Portraits of (L-R) Euler, Gauss, Cantor, Ramanujan, Noether, Hilbert and Gödel from the public domain]
In teaching elementary probability and statistics to undergraduates, I've been reading about some of the great mathematicians who are commemorated in the names of functions and constants. This has led me to ponder the role of religious worldviews in mathematical genius, and it's on that topic that I'd like to share a few thoughts today. I hope that some readers here may have further knowledge and ideas to share.
One of the figures in the Bible who I'm most fond of is the prophet Daniel: mainly because, like me, he was a literature student.
Image: 'Jesus Washing Peter's Feet' by Ford Madox Brown (1821–1893). Image freely available at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jesus_washing_Peter%27s_feet.jpg. Image slightly cropped.
‘Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”’ (Mark 9:35)