Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"Hey!, Ma!, I'm on TV!!!" or "Immigration Red Tape"

Carolina and I had a unique experience yesterday. About 10:00am, Jennifer Akers, a Fox 16 news reporter, called my house. She said she was trying to find the Mark Adams who had sent an e-mail to the station a few weeks ago. She had found the right guy.

I sent the news station an e-mail when they did a story about a camera man they had who had been interning with them, but was about to run out of time on his visa to keep working legally. He is an international student from Europe, and since he doesn't have a sponsor, his only choice is either to mary an American or to return home to Europe. It shed some light on how complicated it is to immigrate to the US, and I had thanked them for airing a story about it.

Most people assume that immigration is a piece of cake for someone who marries an American. When I've told people about going to Memphis for appointments at the immigration/national security headquarters, they always respond, "But yall have your marriage license; what else do they want?" I then laugh to keep myself from crying.

My main beef with the government over immigration is this: If you are going to make things easier for illegal immigrants, then make them at least that easy for me. We are already 2 years into the process of filing for one permit after another, having to renew some while waiting for others to come in. One little mistake can send a person into limbo, where it is nearly impossible to ever solve anything. I know some people who are more than 8 years into this, with no light at the end of the tunnel.

I really don't mind the idea of a worker permit for aliens, because I am sympathetic to the reasons why they come here looking for work. It just irritates me that they will be able to show up and get an easy pass while I have to hire a lawyer, spend thousands of dollars, and wait years for this, when I've done nothing wrong or illegal. In fact, if I hadn't hired a lawyer, I don't think we'd stand a chance of getting through all of this.

So Jennifer called and asked if she could come interview us. We were especially credible for this issue since I am a minister, my wife works at a Christian college, and both of us have degrees from a local Christian university. If you won't allow legal immigration for a preacher's wife, who will you allow it for?

I checked with Carolina, who agreed to do it, so Jennifer Akers and a camera man came to our house around noon and interviewed us. It was pretty cool having a big "Fox 16 News" SUV in our driveway. A lot of the clips are kind of staged, with Carolina watering a plant, and me tying a tie. They had us spend a lot of time looking through immigration papers that we spread all over our coffee table to add to the effect.

I was concerned that they might twist our words out of context or something, but I care a lot about this issue, and my desire to have my voice heard outweighed my concern for being misquoted.

If you saw the news, the little intro bits leading up to our story were horrendous, and I was terrified. "A woman from Mexico wants to stay with her husband in the United States, but immigration red tape threatens to rip this family apart!" Another was, "A woman from Mexico married to an American wants to remain here, but could she still be deported?!" We were both absolutely sick, ready to call and yell at someone, because in the interview nothing of the sort was talked about or even hinted at.

Fortunately, the story itself was very fair and accurate. They didn't twist any details or misrepresent anything we said. We requested that they didn't mention that Carolina works at Harding and that they didn't specifically mention where I preach. They respected all of our requests. I guess they use those intro clips to build up hype. We didn't care for those, but we were really happy with the main part of it.

I felt pretty special getting to be on the news; especially featured in a story about something that I care a lot about. Lots of our friends called right after the clip aired to either congratulate or make fun of us. I figure they can say whatever they want. I'm the one who got to be on TV. ;-)

This was a neat experience. As to whether or not I will do it again, I'm not sure.

To see our story, click here.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Natural Theology in the Old Testament

Finally. I have finished my big whopper of a paper for Dr. Fortner. I think it turned out pretty well. I basically have not spent any time with my wife in two weeks, and went to bed at 4:00 this morning, then got back up to finish it around 8:00. I just turned it in about 3:00pm. I'm happy to have it done, but now I have about a month's worth of chores needing to be done around the house.

If you've ever wondered whether natural theology played an integral part in Old Testament theology, or whether God expects you to learn some stuff about him from his creation, this is your big chance to find out. My paper is here.

If any of you do flatter me by reading this, I'd like to know what you think about it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Karl Barth and Natural Theology

One of my papers is done for the semester. It's about Karl Barth's opposition to Natural Theology. Anyone who wants to read it can see it here. I don't promise it's good, but it is what I turned in.

Monday, May 01, 2006

"How To Write A Term Paper", or "Why I've Been A Recluse For The Last Week-And-A-Half", or "Why I Wish I Could Be Justin McCreary Right Now"

These last couple of weeks I've been finishing my assignments for the semester, which involves two beastly term papers. The top picture is what I still need to read for one of them, the middle picture is what I've read so far, divided by source, and the bottom picture is for illustrative purposes.

I have written a lot of papers over the last few years, and I'm convinced that I'm getting better at it--gradually.

For anyone reading this who wrestles a lot with term papers, I wanted to make a post and describe my tried-and-tested-and-often-revised method for writing papers. It's a lot of organization up front, but it has made the actual writing part a lot less painful for me.

Up front, a person should gather the appropriate resources. I'm going to give some directions for what someone should do once they have their resources ready to go.

1. Read your resources. As you do this, take notes on small note cards. Make one note card per source with all the publication information you will need for your bibliography. Be liberal in the quantity of note cards you take. Try to keep no more than two major ideas per card. At the top of each card, be sure to note the Author and the sequence number of the note card. (For instance, For a book by James Barr, your first card would say at the top "Barr 1", followed by "Barr 2", etc. Down in the body of the card, note the page number from where you took the note. This will all be important later.

I used to write on legal pads, but when it's time to write the paper, you can't organize legal pad notes without rewriting them somewhere else, and you spend half of your time hunting through your legal pads.

2. After you've finished reading and making note cards, you will want to categorize them into an index. This is what is on the near side of my bed in picture #2. Make a big stack of the note cards, open up a new Word document, then go through them one at a time. Analyze each card for possible categories of your paper it could relate to. I'm writing a paper on Karl Barth, so I made an index of cards that could relate to his biography, his doctrine, his influence, people opposed to his views, etc. On your word document, in bold, write the category, then under each category list the cards that relate to the category. This is why you will want to sequentially number your note cards. You might have:

Barth Biography
Barr 1
Barr 3
Miller 4
Wisnefske 13

3. After you've categorized your note cards (many of them might fit into more than one category) you will start off by making a huge bibliography. If you made a separate note card with all the bibliographic information of your sources, you can just work through the stack and enter them one at a time.

Bibliographies are all about formatting, and it is easier later if you do the work up front to find out the correct way to list all your entries. I make one huge bibliography with a detail below on the correct formatting of a footnote on the same item. (See picture #3). Now when you're typing your paper, all you have to do for footnotes and the end bibliography is copy and paste.

4. Now you take the stack of note cards which you have sorted through, and put them into small stacks on a large flat surface (like a guest bed) based on the source. (All Barr note cards in one stack, all Wisnefske's in the next, etc.)

5. Now you're ready to type! After deciding the order of your paper, choose the first topic you are addressing, then look at your index. The index will have a list of all note cards relevant to this topic, so gather them together, go over to the computer, and start typing. This is really nice because you don't have to sort through all 150 note cards over and over and over. When you go through them well once and index them, you can trust your own index to show you which ones you need for each thing.

6. Continue going through your categories, then gathering, using, and restacking the notecards until your paper is done.

I don't honestly know why I went to the trouble of writing all that out. I guess it's like the book of Proverbs. When a generation has spent their whole life learning a lesson, they desire to pass it on to younger generations so that others don't have to learn everything the hard way. I've written a lot of papers in long, dragged-out, disorganized ways. This is at least one way to do it better. Posted by Picasa