Friday, 12 September 2008

Latest news

First of all many thanks to those who prayed, because things are now a lot better with young Simeon, our young and somewhat ailing grandson. On Monday the diagnosis of CAH (Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia) was confirmed (although there are various different types). Anyway Simeon will have to be on steroids for the rest of his life, but the specialist is quite encouraged and encouraging and it sounds like he should be able to live a normal life. His parents will however have to do quite a bit of chemical juggling early on and there will be some fairly regular blood tests. At the moment he is still in hospital but merely to see his weight built up. But the outlook is good. Thank you Lord.

What else is news in this part of the world? Well, today was something of a small but significant landmark for me. I taught nothing but geology today in all four 1.5 hour teaching slots. In other words I have enough students who want to do geology that I now have two groups at AS level (year 12) and two at A2 (year 13). In fact my total student numbers are now around 70 which is a college record. Clearly I must be doing something right. This, of course, feeds into the whole issue to do with writing. Yes, I would love to do nothing but full-time writing but teaching provides a regular salary and frankly this year I am probably going to make nothing whatsoever from my fiction books. Not only that: I am apparently quite good at what I do as a teacher. My college is also actually a pretty good place to work; a fact brought out by the kindness and sympathy of my colleagues in the last week. So I really don't know when you're going to get this promised Seventh Ship manuscript. I also seem to be preaching almost every Sunday for the next couple of months as well. I really must learn to say ‘no’!

A good friend and sometime reader of this blog sent me an article from the British newspaper The Guardian pointing out that in a recent survey of nearly a quarter of a million university students geology achieved the highest satisfaction level with 95% of students being happy with the subject. Why this should be the case is not immediately clear but I suspect several factors contribute to it. Geology is very varied and you never stick with one topic too long, we do lots of nice field trips and at the moment there are lots of jobs available at the end of the course. There is one other factor and it is this; geology has resolutely resisted postmodernism and almost all of types of modern philosophical outlook. It is something of – to use an apposite phrase – a dinosaur. Unlike some geography departments (on whom be peace) we do not do such things as ‘Concepts of Lesbian Space’ and ‘Masculinity and Maps’. Geology departments are much more prosaic, and again to use an apposite phrase, are ‘down to earth’. They centre on facts and the training to use those facts in life outside the campus. I suspect there are implications here for Christian ministry but at the end of the first full week of teaching I am too tired to draw them out.

Blessings on you all.