This last weekend seemed an opportune time to make The Big Move for a number of reasons. It would give me a week before the beginning of orientation to get myself settled in and adjusted to and familiar with my new surroundings. It so happened, too, that my family was planning to go to North Bend, OR that weekend to celebrate my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary; I figured as long as I was heading south anyway, I might as well keep going. So, I packed up the car with the bare essentials (e.g. a tub of licorice, my laptop, and my five-volume copy of the Summa Theologiae... maybe a few other things, too), and headed out. After a pleasant pit stop in Manzanita, a scenic drive down the foggy Coast Highway, an enjoyable weekend topped off by eating grilled steaks and shooting out old Christmas lights with a BB gun (what better way to celebrate an anniversary?), and a pleasant pit stop in Eugene that also served to get me onto the main vein through Oregon, I hit I-5 and set my sights on Cali-for-nigh-ay.
I don't believe I'd seen southern Oregon past Roseburg before, and I must say it was quite nice in its own earth tone, rolling hill-y sort of way. It actually reminded me quite a bit of parts of Colorado, especially as I passed through the Siskiyou Mountains. Very pretty area. Mt. Shasta was breath-taking. I crossed the border, and continued through the peaks and valleys and slopes until I passed through Redding, when the terrain suddenly changed to flat, barren, sandy-colored nothingness. Again, much like Colorado: descending from the majesty of the mountains to the dullness of the desert. That went on for far too long, like driving across the state of Nebraska. I eventually made my way over the Carquinez Strait and coasted in to the idyllic-sounding town of Pleasant Hill, California.
The rest of Sunday evening was spent unpacking just enough to be able to sleep and get myself properly attired for my morning meeting with my academic adviser, Fr. Augustine Thompson, OP. (That "OP" stands for "Order of Preachers," the official name of the Dominicans.) The meeting went well, full of good tips for a graduate student ("Challenge out of any courses you can," "German is very hard, don't take it in a summer session," "In this program, take most of your philosophy before your theology"), and we settled on my course schedule for this first semester:
Aristotelian Logic: This would certainly be Spock's favorite class. From the syllabus: "The goal [is] for the students to become familiar with forms of argument, be able to analyze them for validity, and detect fallacies. And once they have mastered this, to be able to use this knowledge in their own argumentation and writing." An important first step in thinking clearly.
Philosophy of Nature: How should we think about the world around us? Do things really change? What is the true nature of things? From atomists to Zeno's paradoxes to substance and accident and more, we'll look at different people's ideas of just what stuff is.
History of Ancient Philosophy: I imagine we'll tackle that group of philosophers who so distinguished themselves that they're named after someone else (i.e. the Pre-Socratics), as well as Ancient Greece's Big Three--Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. (Don't believe Mr. Vizzini--they were not morons.) This is especially useful for someone learning theology, especially someone studying the early church, because any halfway educated person would have been reading these guys, and it shows in the writings of the Church Fathers: you can see the fingerprints of Plato and Aristotle all over the place.
Introduction to the New Testament: The New Testament and I have been introduced before on a number of occasions, but not formally. From the syllabus: "The course is intended to introduce the student to a critical reading and study of the New Testament. It is divided into three parts. The first part deals with general issues related to the study of the Bible. The second deals with methodological concerns. The third with the texts and theology of the New Testament." So, yeah.
Should be fun!
I spent the rest of that day running all over creation (or at least the Pleasant Hill/Walnut Creek bit of it) buying this and that to get myself situated: desk chair, toothpaste, groceries, etc. That evening I did something which will either bring me great joy or ruin my life: I signed up for Netflix. I promptly, within the space of a few days, watched the first seasons of both Downton Abbey and Mad Men. (Greatly enjoyed both: great acting, great characters, good plots--pun intended.) Hey, I'd had a busy few days, and was going to be very busy soon enough: I deserved to relax a little, didn't I? Right? Maybe? I did also take a nice stroll down one of the main roads of town here, to see the sights, get some fresh air and some sun, stretch my legs, and alleviate my guilt for watching twenty 45-minute TV episodes in the space of two and a half days... well, twenty-three if you count those couple of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, too. Hey, my roommates are never around and I don't know anyone yet. Don't judge me!
I have also been accomplishing little tasks here and there, as well, so don't worry. I'll be ready to hit the ground running on Monday when new student orientation starts. Should be fun.