Today was a much more engaging class, with a powerpoint presentation to boot! And contra to yesterday’s problem, today I have too many notes, which I have to simplify.

Let me start with what Dr. Joshva Raja, Head of Communication Department at UTC, qualifies as ‘Christian’ communications (ie. what makes communication christian).

To Dr. Raja, communication is Christian “only when it embodies Christian values.” And what Christian values? To be Christian, communication must be prophetic, creating community, nourishing culture, liberative and participatory. Communication must aid/nurture contact between God and humans and between humans and fellowhumans… (the elipse suggests that communication can do more than this, but for now, this is enough).

Using Christian Communication as an example, this class, like the Christian Education class, provided a good analogy to research methodology for any discipline.

There will obviously be some repetition, but let me list important methodological issues, especially helpful for ‘research proposals’ (something I have been thinking about a lot).

In research, you must identify AIMS, PURPOSES, and METHODS of research in your proposal.

1. PROBLEM: You must identify the Research Problem. The research problem can be on multiple levels, but must mostly be singular. Christian Communication can be seen to have four distinct problem areas out of which one must be chosen.
i) Process/Practice of Communication (ie. preaching etc)
ii) Theological positions and theoretical issues (ie. issues concerning methodology, norms etc)
iii) Perspectives, attitudes and worldviews (ie. certain models employed, issues concerning methods)
iv) Reception, interpretation (ie. I think audience research, and hermeneutical issues).

Usually, there will some problem within these. In any other discipline, let’s assume Theology, there could be similar (few) problem issues.

2. SCOPE. It is important to identify the SCOPE of your paper. “You cannot solve all the problems, identify one issue and deal with it.”

3. DEFINE TERMS. You can’t take any meaning, learned or discovered, for granted.

4a. PROVIDE LITERARY REVIEW, within discipline and outside discipline.

4b. IDENTIFY THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES (within the field of study). Something more than the first point, where the displine has many facets. In this case, Communication has certain methodological starting points (frameworks) to choose from. Usually, historically, there are some methodologies that are discarded for some newer method, and some latest method.

4c. IDENTIFY THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES (outside the field of study). UTC is strong in its emphasis of some interdisciplinary aspect within the research, here, we not only are aware about our own discipline, but we also are aware of methodological issues in other disciplines, especially in those aspects that relate to our field of study.

5. CHOOSE PERSPECTIVE, TELLING WHY AND WHY NOT. Here, the researched must explain why she is using one perspective and not using another. Doesn’t need to be that long.

6. LIST CERTAIN METHODS to be employed. Like research tools, interviews etc.

7. yet HYPOTHESIS is most important. Issues of method, like the above are important, but “method only serves you to arrive at your conclusion… to prove your hypothesis. This hypothesis can be tested within the universe that you have constructed.”

***

OK. Most of the above could be old stuff that we have covered, I guess it was interested to see it applied through another perspective. Also, Dr. Raja’s purpose was larger, he was promoting a kind of alternative communication, and also an alternative for communication. Hence, while the above looks simplistic, it was part of a larger programme. Dr. Raja, it must be also said, is seeking to employ communication (dialogue) within grassroot level (ie. away from the urban context within which communication is usually discussed).

Below I’m listing certain points and quotes that, while part of the larger scheme of things, are interesting in themselves.

“(Your main job in your DTh (PhD) programme is to meet the minimum requirements. You may excel, but you need to meet the minimum requirements)”

“Definition of methodology? Simply, it is the logic beyind the method.”

“While driving a car, we look at the road, not the windshield. Studying Christian communication is like looking at the windshield.” (interesting for me, partly because we usually use the “glasses we are wearing” illustration which suggests conceptual understanding. However, it is important to remember that we are in ‘motion’ (driving); which puts our theoretical activity into perspective, especially since we continue to drive while looking at the windshield.)

“It is very difficult to go to churches with different principles that we have learned here (UTC).”

“Theology is liek a Rs. 500/- not. If you give it to a 500 member congregation, there will be a riot/stampede. Instead, you must break it down, and give it Rs. 1 at a time. Moral: Simplify your theology!”

Tomorrow is Theology from a woman’s perspective. That should be interesting.

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