Another semester under the bridge…

December 16, 2008 § 3 Comments

Once again, with exams safely behind me, I’ve been musing over my semester and all the new experiences it brought. My schedule changed radically from what it has been for the past four years: now I am working full-time and studying part-time. Many of my closest friends graduated and moved on with their lives. As some of you may or may not know, I turned down a great job opportunity at the beginning of the semester to stay with my current job, which gives me a different perspective on the entire semester as well. I may have never had these experiences if I had decided differently. Who knows?

Some highlights of the semester…in no particular order of  course:

Reading Peter Geach for the first time. This guy is incredible – my final philosophy paper of the semester examined his belief that “God” is a description and not a name. It is fascinating how Geach investigates everything against the background of his Catholic faith.

Learning about Possible Worlds. Whoa. Don’t expect to be able to think straight after studying this for an entire semester. Here is the primary question in regards to possible worlds’ theory that I wrestled with throughout the class: could chlorine BE chlorine in another possible world if it were, say, missing a neutron? Sigh.

Michael Phelps’ celebration. Celeste and I have been loving every moment of volunteering with the Fort McHenry Guard since we started in September. The living history is fun, yes, but the people are even more incredible. Jim, Vince, Wendy, Celia, Chris, Aaron…and the list continues. You are all amazing. With the “citizen exam” under my belt, I look forward to making memories in the coming year with the Guard.

Time with family. I spent weekends visiting with Papa and Grandma (with a side visit to see a Civil War park), newly-married cousins Sarah and Dave, as well as several weekends with the Walker cousins. It was a blast every single time, and I must say I am enjoying not having quite so much studying to do on Saturdays and Sundays. :)

Reading two lovely Marian books. A Woman Wrapped in Silence and Reed of God. Sorry, I just had to plug for them one more time. If you haven’t read them, please get your hands on copies.

Starting 1/2 hour of Adoration per day. I can’t remember where I got the idea, but at the beginning of the semester I started making a 1/2 hour of prayer per day in front of the tabernacle at the Shrine. I am utterly floored by the amount of graces that have flooded into my life from the very small sacrifice of 1/48th of my day.

Teaching RCIA. It is truly humbling to work with the catechumens in the RCIA class this year. Their dedication to asking questions and seeking the Truth is inspiring, and I am honored to be a part of their journey. And this was one of many wonderful opportunities this semester to share my faith with fellow Christians as well as non-Christians. Praise God!

Meeting the Dean of A&S. After four and half years of school, I finally got to meet the Dean of Arts & Sciences here. The Associate Dean came up to me at the Christmas party and, vigorously pointing at the man I was sitting next to for dinner, said that *he* was the Dean and I owed him a huge debt of gratitude for letting me have my dual degree. Anyway, he was not half so formidable as I had always imagined, and we had a delightful conversation about world travel, the separation between arts and sciences, and British history.

Seeing Robert George speak. Father Joe (Thank you!!!) took me to the Catholic Medical Association convention this year in Baltimore, MD. The keynote speaker was Professor Robert George of Princeton University, whom I have heard give statements at Bioethics Council meetings and met once or twice. But I had never heard him give a lecture, and in Baltimore he gave the finest lecture against embryonic stem cell research that I have ever heard. After hearing him speak, I went ahead and got a copy of his new book embryo (a less condensed version of the same lecture). It reads like poetry!

My defense of Francis Bacon in Dr. Mack’s class. As the only science major in the Renaissance humanities class this semester, I found myself called upon to defend Francis Bacon. Several times. Why is is that students in the humanities are so hostile to the sciences? At least Dr. Mack gave me a chance to speak up…

Lunches with Father Mark! These hour-long lunches were like oases in the Sahara. Normal, delightful conversation with a wonderful human being. Thank you Father Mark!!! :) And awesome blog, by the way.

Exploration. This was definitely an exploratory semester for me. I have looked into and prayed about pursuing everything from wedding planning and becoming a personal shopping assistant to freelance science editing, and have learned a ton in the process both about the world and about myself. Whatever I do, I have decided which hobbies I am going to keep my hands in, and which were just passing interests.

(In)famous D. concussion. One of the best parts of the semester, my dear friend D. literally tumbled into my life when he got a concussion in the early weeks of the school year. My family and I jumped in to take care of him, with the result that three months later I have been blessed with an awesome friendship, have learned how to make bread, can find Jupiter and Venus on a clear night, and have done roughly 75 hours of walking.

Applying for my diplomas. Yesterday I had the pleasure of manually applying for my two degrees…normally one applies online, but the system can’t accept two applications for one person. My hand was shaking as I filled out my name and degree for which I was applying. It is really surreal, and I can’t believe that this part of my life is nearly over. There are only two classes and one comprehensive exam (we received the study packets for it this past week!) between myself and graduation!!!!

Love to everyone and I hope you all have a delightful, blessed last few days of Advent. <3

§ 3 Responses to Another semester under the bridge…

  • phamilton says:

    “Learning about Possible Worlds. Whoa. Don’t expect to be able to think straight after studying this for an entire semester. Here is the primary question in regards to possible worlds’ theory that I wrestled with throughout the class: could chlorine BE chlorine in another possible world if it were, say, missing a neutron? Sigh.”

    Have you ever read any James Ross? Aside from a few situations in which the language is useful, Ross is critical of possible worlds philosophy. Although Ross is as confusing a writer as they come, he’s brilliant (and more importantly, I think, he’s right!).

  • phamilton says:

    BTW, The answer to the question whether chlorine would be chlorine without a neutron in another possible world, the answer is no. Possiblility is grounded in real things, not in conceptual analysis and thought experiments. The nature of this new type of “chlorine” does not exist unless there is an instantiation of this “chlorine”, at least if you follow Aristotle or Thomas. And since there is no actual range of mere possibles existing prior to instantiation (you’ll get caught in some very unChristian results if you do, such as a set of quasi-existing things not identical to God and yet uncreated), and because there is no reliable way to infer real possibility from conceptual analysis, we can only accurately infer the possibility of this “chlorine” if this “chlorine” is instantiated.

    My question is that if this “chlorine” were found, how much would that require us to change our current theories about molecules? The existence of such a thing would seem to indicate that a certain number of neutrons is not a necessary condition of being chlorine, and by extension not a necessary condition for being any other element.

  • frmarkdwhite says:

    Dear Genna, the pleasure of our lunches was all mine. You are a great human being, and you have a pretty cool blog, too.

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