The Past Month or so

For the most part, November was simply a continuation of what I have been working on since early in October, but with some added extras thrown in to keep things interesting. As I explained in my update for October, I am currently living in Seattle for ten weeks as part of the process for gathering the data for my doctoral dissertation, which will hopefully end up being published as my first book. By the end of October, I had only spent time at the Shoreline campus and the Downtown campus of Mars Hill Church. Since then, though, I have also visited the University District campus, the campus in Bellevue (where Mark Driscoll now preaches live), and the campus in West Seattle. Tomorrow, I am going to the Ballard campus for the first time. Aside from observing church events (which includes not only Sunday services, but also various training events, social functions, and the like), my dissertation research also involves interviewing pastors, seminary professors, and other Evangelical leaders across the United States. Also like in October, November was characterized by much time doing the "three Rs": reading, writing, and wedding planning. And now, some new things: First, since my last update, I have had the privilege of interviewing a number of pastors and other leaders at Mars Hill Church. This raw interview data will be transcribed (hopefully not by me) and eventually, potentially, end up constituting a good portion of my first book. Second, early in the morning on Friday, November 9th, I flew to Phoenix, Arizona, to present at the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. My presentation was entitled "How Leaders Create Momentum: Rethinking Religious Strength in a Strategic Action Field." It was very well-received, and the audience asked me lots of questions. Thirdly, the following weekend, my future best-man, Justin, happened also to be in Seattle. So Friday night, we met up and enjoyed dinner and drinks in downtown Seattle for a few hours. Fourth, the following weekend, the day after Thanksgiving, my fiancée, Ali, flew from Detroit to Seattle to visit me for five days. Highlights (aside from just being with her, of course) included driving a sweet, black-on-black rental car; a nice dinner at The Ram; an excellent, candle-lit dinner overlooking Seattle at R-View Restaurant; a trip to Pike Place Market; seeing the movie "Lincoln"; a small wine and cheese party; and simply exploring downtown Seattle together. In the end, it is hard to believe that I only have three weeks left in Seattle. In December, I am looking forward to giving a guest lecture (via Skype) at the University of Michigan (my talk is entitled "Current Issues and Future Directions in the Sociology of Religion") as well as being home in Lansing for a few weeks for Christmas and New Years, before I head out to New York City to study another mega-church.

Some photographs that Ali took on Sunday afternoon just before we visited Pike Place Market.
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