Change: An Update on my PhD Journey

All good things
need to come to end,
or a pause,
or simply a resting place.

As a brief reminder,
Bird & Babe's editorials
will resume in September
after enjoying rest in August.

Also, some news:
I will not be attending my PhD program
(if you have followed this blog for a while,
you'll know that I ended up deferring a year.)

With love, gratitude, and change,
Jessica

Today, I informed the University that I would not be attending my PhD program.  I simply could not find the funds to support my research between 'dance' and the 'Divine' or more specifically, about how we come to knowledge through our bodies (via movement) and why this is so important in knowing more about who we are, and further, what this all says about who we are in our unique relationship with God.  I was slated to originally enroll fall of 2014, but deferred in hopes of hitting up the scholarship window.   (I ended up postponing a year because I learned that this window is oddly before any actual university deadlines for PhD applications!  Hence, I missed it the first time around.)

I still believe this kind of epistemology is worth pursuing and researching as it essentially informs not just our identities or our narrow understanding of a Divine Energy that is all-encompassing and incredibly generous and wondrous, but this way of coming to knowledge also broadens our minds of what it means to be a person (not just a human) in a technological milieu that, I believe, seeks to narrow it.

I have been stimulated by many things.  First off, much of my framework for understanding and seeking such an integrated one originated out of my Master's comprehensive essay while at Regent College Vancouver.  Here I was studying Christian theology and culture with an interest in modern art.  I stumbled upon the conclusion that modern art promises personhood but its framework fails to deliver such a promise.  Secondly, around this time, I then found myself in San Francisco, in the mecca of the tech pulse, inspired to finally dance.  I grew up as as athlete, but never as the dancer my heart always knew that I was.  And so, in this rather monastic season, I have had the time and space to move, to be, to read, to pray, to think, and ultimately, to be changed in deeper ways, truly more integrative ways.  I learned (not just with my mind but with my body) that memories are harbored in the body.  I discovered that we assimulate knowledge through our skin, not just our minds--and that this locus is different than when learning happens strictly via the mind.  And of course, all of this, gets at the heart.  And so dancing was not just an activity that coursed blood through my veins, it pumped spirituality into my heart.  Thirdly, during this quiet season, I have appreciated so many thinkers such as Jim Houston, Albert Borgmann, Iain McGilchrist, Loren Wilkinson, Matthew B. Crawford, Charles Taylor, Walter Brueggemann, Eugene Peterson, and many more.  I was excited to formalize my learning in my PhD program at St. Andrews in Scotland!  (And as a trained educator, I was excited to eventually help influence pedagogy--perhaps helping us to return back to a more traditional perspective that views education as human flourishing rather than human-equipping.)

And thankfully, in all of this, I know where my true identity lies.  It does not lie in the need to have a PhD to (a) continue my work, (b) have an increased sense of worth, or (c) know that there is something worthwhile to unpack here.  I know there is and I can continue my research in other areas and mediums (not least, simply by living it!).  Furthermore, I have always truly committed this process to the god of my understanding and trust him.

A special thanks to my husband Jonathan Lipps for believing in me and to my friend and fellow dancer Benjie Lasseau for inspiring me to do a campaign video (!) way back when, that I otherwise would have not had the courage to do.