"I think extravagance in your life takes energy from the possible extravagances of your mind."

- Kay Ryan, in an interview with The Paris Review
September song

And so ends my first week of grad school. I have a little better understanding of what my work load will be, and I think I can handle it. Of course I'm only taking three credits this semester. The plan is to take six per semester starting next spring.

And there are the imponderables. Will my professors hate me because I'm a conservative? Will my fellow students hate me for the same reason? Would I do better to sound off on my opinions, or try to keep my head down? Will I live long enough to finish this thing?

Ah well. If you want to give me moral support, and are in the area, I'll be with the Vikings at the Nordic Music Festival in Chanhassen, MN tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be hot.

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Comments on "September song":
1. Brendan - 09/07/2013 8:24 am EDT

It's great to hear that you're starting graduate school, Lars! I hope it will be a great experience.

Most academics, like most people, are genuine and good. They don't *hate* easily, and like any community, if you join in wholeheartedly and companionably, there's no reason to think they'll dislike you, even if you have fundamental disagreements about some issues.

That said, if you wear your conservatism openly as a challenge, you will probably get some push back from people who disagree. Academics love hashing through ideas, and our religious and political ideas are the most closely held ones.

But unless you're taking classes on politics or religion, I don't see why it would be an issue. I try not to bring politics into the classroom unless it's directly relevant, and I try to remain opaque to my students so as to foster a good learning environment. I'd urge you to do the same -- there's no need to hide who you are, but there's no need to make loud pronouncements about your political beliefs outside the context of a discussion of said beliefs, at least in class.

My two cents.

2. Eric - 09/09/2013 5:17 pm EDT

Current grad student here. Just came from being lectured, so my apologies in advance for soapboxing.

I both agree and disagree with Brendan. True, Academicians are (mostly) ordinary people, but I figure that means they do hate people whose beliefs contradict their own, just like everyone else living without the grace of God. Their academic culture just means they express it differently than most people. Seems to be a difference of opinion about people in general though. I trust very little in common grace and more in He that is in me being greater than he that is in the world. Both are true though.

I'd suggest you decide early on which battles you are willing to fight and which you are going to let go. I'm willing to offend the room and make enemies for the name of the one who redeemed me. Not going to do that over some politician who is probably lying to me anyways.

Your values should be somewhat different from mine, but I do advise you to decide what's really important to you ahead of time. It's very easy to misjudge importance when you're angry or afraid and you don't want to walk away having offended someone for something unimportant or having let them demean something truly important.

Finally, on sounding off, I'd suggest keeping your head down for the first quarter to a third of the program. Once you have a feel for the culture, you'll be able to sound off more wisely.

Praying you have a great experience, keep us posted.

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