Posts by Anthony Smith

It’s hard to predict how I will feel at the end of the Christmas break. Will I be refreshed and eager to get back to work? Or will the thought fill me with dread? Or both?

It can be especially difficult when your day-to-day work is somewhat mind numbing. Every PhD has these phases. (If yours doesn’t, I want to know your secret!) How can you go from pondering the birth of Jesus Christ one week, to spend the next week wrestling with your data, poring over arcane ancient texts, fighting with test tubes, dredging through reams of articles, or debugging your spaghetti-like code?

13-14 February 2015 will see the 3rd Christian Postgraduate Leaders’ Conference take place in Leeds.

One of our goals at Faith-in-Scholarship is to support leaders of local groups for Christian postgraduates. This kind of group exists at a good number of universities, but the groups are often small in number, fragile, and struggle to find resources or to make an impact. And there are far too many universities where no such group exists at all.

Are you involved in leading one of those groups? Are you keen to start one at your university? If so, then this conference is for you!

One of the things we are aiming to do through Faith-in-Scholarship is to direct Christian postgraduates (and others) to helpful resources and initiatives. We’re planning to ‘spotlight’ a few of these over the coming months.

First up is C-A-N-: the Christian Academic Network.

C-A-N- was launched in 2003, with support from Agapé and UCCF, to support the Christian academic community in the UK. Its two aims are

It has been said that a specialist is one who knows more and more about less and less … until he knows everything about nothing!

When working towards a PhD it is very tempting to try to become that sort of a specialist. Your aim is to become the world’s expert in that very specific area of knowledge which is the subject matter of your thesis. It may seem obvious that, in order to achieve that aim, you will need to focus almost exclusively on that narrow topic, to the exclusion of all others (as long as you both shall live). And, if you are anything like me, you may well have grown up having just a small number of intense interests anyway. But there are good reasons to resist the temptation to over-specialise.

One of the motivations for Faith in Scholarship is the conviction that Christian faith makes a difference to all areas of life. It’s not just the ‘religious’ areas of our lives that are affected, but, in the famous words of Abraham Kuyper, ‘There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!’

But what does that mean for my own discipline: astronomy?

Is there a Christian way of thinking about your discipline? I think most of us would answer, ‘Yes,’ but spelling out what that means is usually a difficult task!

The Bible gives us a narrative of a good creation, spoilt by sin, and being put right through the redemptive work of Christ. To put it succinctly, ‘God the Father has reconciled His created but fallen world through the death of His Son, and renews it into a Kingdom of God by His Spirit.’1 From this, we can pick out three themes that can help us to think Christianly about our disciplines: creation, fall and redemption. In this series of blog posts we’ll look at each in turn.

So far in this series we’ve looked at the why and the what of Christian postgraduate groups. Some of our readers will already be involved in such groups. But there are plenty of universities in the UK where no such group exists at all. The cpgrad.org.uk site has been around for years, and has a list of Christian postgraduate groups. There may be some gaps (do leave a comment here if you notice any), but most of the established groups are probably there, and it’s not a long list!

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