This is an adapted progress report I submitted to my mentor. Adapted because it skips a lot of the detail and provides a general overview of where I stand. The report outlines my academic progress after returning to SAIACS back from McGill, Canada, particularly the months from July to December.

July to August, 2009

From the time my family and I returned to SAIACS, Bangalore, things were busy. This was especially because apart from the general reintegration issues to SAIACS, included stabilizing family health, I taught Theological Method to the MTh in Theology students. I enjoyed that thoroughly, and found to be helpful for the students as well. That July teaching month was also a consolidation of some of the things I had been thinking of in the past year (especially after the Method in Theology course I did at Concordia University).

At this time I also implemented the corrections and additions that were suggested by my mentor for my first chapter. There were a few areas that still remain to be clarified, however, I felt it was be best to move on to the subsequent chapters and return to polish it when I am ready to with my first full draft.

September – October, 2009

In September and October, I began going regularly to the UTC, Bangalore, to read all the published material of Chenchiah, sources that were available as Microfilms. This was an exciting phase of my study, where my cursory knowledge of Chenchiah became an expertise. Not all that I read was relevant to his theology of religion (though there was a lot more than I thought there would be). However the exercise was exciting and even beneficial for my work, in that I felt more confident in having opinions about Chenchiah.

The problem was that because I wasn’t able to go to UTC as often as I would have liked. In effect, in those two months I wasn’t able to complete reading all his work. I’ve got about 15 more articles to go, which is about than 1/5 of all his work.  I hope to get this done just before I begin writing on Chenchiah.

November – December, 2009

By November I was nervous that I hadn’t even started writing anything (I had only taken thorough notes of Chenchiah’s articles). So I began reading for and writing the general background to Chenchiah, hoping that by the time I get to Chenchiah, I would have been able to finish my reading of Chenchiah as well.

It was at this time I that I found myself a little confused. Through my reading of Chenchiah, it became apparent that the historical context played an important role in shaping his theology, and it would help my work to highlight the connections with the historical movements and Chenchiah’s theological choices.  Earlier I had thought I would do Chapter 2 as a general background to Chenchiah and then discuss his theology of religion. Chapter 3, then, would be a specific background to Chenchiah, were I would relate his theology to certain historical precedents.

However, I was unsure whether to split my dealings with Chenchiah in these two chapters or let it be one long chapter. My main concern was that looking at the Background to Chenchiah was not a preface to his work, as my chapter 2 brief interaction with background would have suggested, but rather history was very much part of Chenchiah’s context to understand, appreciate and even critique his theological choices (even about religion).

By the middle of November I finally decided to integrate both chapter 2 and 3 as one long chapter, arguing that they were part of one argument in the larger dissertation anyway.  Thus, instead of dividing into a general and specific context, in chapter 2 I would first deal with the historical context in relevant detail, with a particular intention to provide an a summary and appreciation of his theology. Then, in my Chapter 3, I would provide a more critical evaluation of Chenchiah, particularly in response to contemporary research on religion.

Currently, in my chapter 2, I am writing on the nationalist movement.  Next, I will have to give a brief overview of the specific history of of the concept of religion during Chenchiah’s time (before in non-Christian and theological perspectives). After this, I will directly move towards Chenchiah, an overview of his theology and then a statement of his theology of religion.

Also this time I worked on editing an article I presented at the Graduate Studies Conference at McGill, on Ritual. And it was published in Arc, the McGill Religious Studies Journal. For PhD students, that’s actually a big deal!

Finally/Overall…

I must admit that while I am not happy with the speed of my progress, I continue to be fascinated by my subject and have found many new and interesting things. I am confident that something good is coming out.

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