Each semester, Wednesday—in particular—stands above the rest. By that, I mean, my week anticipates and builds towards Wednesday. At Southern Seminary, PhD students gather together around a common vision and a common place for at least four hours.
The 1892 Club is part of the life and fabric of the PhD program at Southern Seminary. It dedicates both time and space to develop friendships and relationships with mentor-professors. Our afternoon is both a formal time to gather around a large table to hear from different scholars in different academic areas. It is also an informal time where conversations blossom and range from day-to-day research, to book projects, to discussions about Modern Family.
On a personal level, the 1892 Club has been a time for personal development in multiple ways. I build my class time, research time, and work time around the 1892 Club hours: Wednesday 1pm – 5pm. This routine has become somewhat sacred in that it is an untouchable time from the outside world.
Thus, I offer 9 reasons why Southern Seminary PhD students should find ways to attend the 1892 Club.
- Craft Coffee and Fine Cheese: During each session, we provide good pour-over coffee—either through a V60 or a Chemex. Added to this, fine cheeses are cut into squares to accent good coffee. My taste for coffee has only grown with the types of coffee beans that are supplied from Sunergos Coffee or the freshly roasted beans from other students. Craft coffee has really become a sub-culture of the PhD community life.
- A Theological and Research Community: Building upon making good coffee, these times deepen relationships with others in the PhD program. You quickly realize that you are not the sole individual on the lost island of research. You find camaraderie around common goals and struggles. This is a safe community to talk about research and life struggles.
- Multi-Disciplinary Conversations: My discipline is New Testament and Early Christianity. So, I am am frequently reading books on historical critical methodologies, learning new ancient languages, or reading the primary literature from Ancient Christianity (Jewish Literature, NT, and Patristic). What I forget is, there are systematicians who are thinking with a wholly different worldview, there are Christian counselors who are asking anthropological and practical questions, there are OT students who remind me there is another part of the Bible I need to read. All to say, these conversations have a tremendous impact upon you because you are able to glean from others and their research—even from another discipline.
- Shapes you as a Person: The topics that have been discussed in the DCR, the relationships that are built, and the ideas that are entertained have helped shape my person. Moreover, Jonathan Pennington, NT SBTS Professor and Director of Research Doctoral Studies, continually lays before us the vision of a flourishing life—see his vision for PhD studies. All of these combined items have helped shape my person.
- Garner a Vision for ETS and SBL Involvement: Involvement in societies is an integral component of developing as a scholar. Pennington and others continually call students to be involved in societies that are pertinent for their discipline. For me, they include SBL, NAPS, and ETS. The amount of people and different types of people that I have met at these society meetings have a transformative effect on my research and writing abilities. Contact and be genuinely interested in people that are in your discipline—Jr. and Sr. scholar alike. Often, students live within an institutional bubble whereby they only compare themselves to their peers, fellow classmates, and how well their paper matched up in a given class. If students can begin thinking beyond the institution when research and writing, these societies will create far more and far broader categories to shape your research.
- Develop a Vision for Scholared Contributions: Building upon societal involvement, the 1892 Club has helped contribute to a larger vision to shape my personal discipline. Classroom papers sometimes stay only as that, classroom papers. The 1892 Club helps you to find ways to contribute to and shape your discipline. Begin by contributing book reviews to journals (NT and Early Christian Journals), set a goal to publish 1–2 journal articles during your residence, and set a goal to publish your dissertation as a first of many monographs.
- Hear from a Variety of Authors and Scholars: Each week we host a number of scholars, either in person or via Skype. In past years, we have heard from David Crump, Greg Hillis, Dru Johnson, and Ben Mast. In the forthcoming semester (FA15), we will look forward to hearing from Michael Kruger and Bryan Litfin (also a CACS Pre-Conference).
- Housh Talks: Near the end of each semester, the formal time of our 1892 Club meeting is transformed. It becomes modeled after TED Talks and affords students the opportunity to give a 7 minute presentation with 5 minutes of rapid-fire Q&A from the audience. “Housh” comes from the name of one of the first Th.D. graduates from Southern Seminary in 1894. Housh Talks afford students the opportunity to shape an idea and hear immediate feedback from fellow students and professors. These times also help give confidence to stand before peers too. With the three Housh Talks I have presented, each presentation produced greater clarity on my end—even though it may not have been clear during my presentation.
- A Form of Liturgy: Because the 1892 Club meets on a weekly basis, a pattern and routine is expected. Moreover, these times allow students to have a brief reprieve from deadlines and pressing weekly projects.
I’m sure others could add more to this list. If you are able to think of others, please leave them in the comments section below.