Thursday, August 25, 2016

My Thesis in Print

Although I noted it on Facebook, I neglected to post something here.  Given that I chronicled the entire journey of my graduate work from 2010 on, it seems only fitting that the final post (a little after the fact) be given to the day the bound copy of my thesis arrived in the mail.  As the picture shows it is a red hardbound book with the simple title on the spine that reads: "D. Engebretson - STM - 2016.  Inside the cover is the official certification of examination signed by the Rev. Thomas N. Buchan, Ph.D, my thesis director, and Garwood P. Anderson, Ph.D, the second reader. Buchan is noted as an Associate Professor of Church History and Director of Assessment.  Anderson, the only person who was consistent in my journey, is listed as Professor of New Testament and Greek.  The date of the certification is 4/29/2016.  The thesis was given a grade of "pass."  I didn't realize it until I saw this copy that there is a second possible grade, "Pass with distinction."  I'm not sure what I would have had to do to earn that level.  But I am happy to know it is finished.  The copy arrived on August 4.  It will now sit on a shelf at Nashotah House's library awaiting someone to discover it and maybe even read it.  Who knows....

1066 THE YEAR OF THE CONQUEST by David Howarth

In this very readable history David Howard chronicles the fateful and pivotal year 1066 from New
Year's Day to the end of the year.  The book begins with a very descriptive picture of life in a typical town of England at the beginning of the 11th century, and proceeds to describe the various events and personalities that formed the drama of that year.  As an historian Howard is to be commended for balancing his interpretation of events as he examines the available sources of the time.  The history of 1066 is a history with two viewpoints - one Norman and one English.  It is often said that history is written by the conquerors, and to some extent this is true of English history at this juncture.  Howard, however, sifts through the records taking into consideration biases and excesses, looking for the truth between the lines.  This book is a very readable history and helpful for getting a good picture of what happened that year along with the implications for the years to come.  The author also attempts to flesh out the primary characters of the story, seeing them not as legend would, but in true human perspective, emotions, conflicts, doubts and all.  As one reviewer summed it up: "A model of scholarly popular history." My copy is a Barnes and Nobel reprint from 1993.  The original was written in 1977.  I read this book, in part, to give me a better grounding in the history that begins the four book set of historical novels by Thomas Costain, The Conquerors (1949) that I intend to read next.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


In the Wake of the Plague is a quick and easy read for a historical book.  After finishing The Great Mortality by Kelly I was interested in reading more on this fascinating event in history, so I decided to keep reading in this thematic area since I had another book covering the period.  By comparison, however, Kelly's book is far more informative.  Although Cantor was a credentialed historian with a Ph.D in history compared to Kelly's master's, I felt that Kelly spent more time researching and assembling his work.  Although Cantor includes sections of interesting historical information on the medieval era, it has a tendency to seem almost like 'filler' after a while.  In fact, he seems to spend more time on telling the stories of historical figures than he does telling the story of the Plague.  Toward the end of the book he does provide more specific treatment, yet even this has the sense of a light treatment, and I was surprised that he would give any credence to outlandish theories of the Plague's origin such as the theory that it came from outer space.  Like Kelly Cantor also spends a good amount of time expounding on the Jewish pogroms that occurred during the Plague years, and the heavy treatment at times seems out of proportion to the rest of the story - even in Kelly.  If I had to recommend one book over the other I would recommend Kelly's.  Interesting to note is that on Amazon the reviews are not very high for this book. 41% of the reviewers gave it only one star!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

THE GREAT MORTALITY by John Kelly (2005)

I enjoyed this book.  However, I have to admit that it took me months to finish. Perhaps it was the
time, with other distractions getting in the way such as the defense of my thesis, graduation, etc.  Being a student of the Medieval Era I found the wealth of information about this time period to be fascinating.  Kelly not only explains the technical aspects of the Black Death from the 14th Century, he also weaves into the narrative stories and accounts of events impacted by this great plague.  Some might argue that he spends an inordinate amount of space on some of these issues, such as the antisemitism of the time.  However, historical events should always be considered in the overall context of the period, recognizing that disease impacts many areas of a society, including family, economics, politics, and faith, to name but a few.  Kelly walked away from his extensive study with a mixture of sadness and encouragement.  Sadness over the horrific immensity of the death that transpired throughout the world, from the far east to the shores of Greenland.  Encouragement over the instances of virtue and kindness in the midst of the global tragedy, as well as the developments that rose as a result of the plague.  Although not an expert in any way on this topic, I was impressed by his attention to not only the historical sources, but to the scientific questions alike.  He did his homework.  In fact, this book was several years in the making.  The approach of the book is a tour de force that works its way from Mongolia (its supposed origin), throughout eastern and western Europe, England, and even as far west as Greenland.  More than once I was thankful for the map provided in the very front of the book that shows the progress of the plague as he narrates it in the book.  Given how long I took to finish the book, and the length of the work plus the wealth of information (over 340 pages), I feel like I should re-read it some day.  As a side note: The book is appended with personal information on the author and a brief story of the writing of of the book.  I recommend this volume heartily. P.S. Although I want to move on to another topic, I just might read Norman Cantor's book In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World that Made It (2001).  Kelly makes note of Cantor, and it seems like an equally readable work.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Historical Roots of the Warham Guild Hood

In doing just a little checking on the internet, it's interesting to see how the Warham Guild hood, which I have as part of my STM degree attire, is actually a throwback to the Medieval hood. One article notes "the work of the Warham Guild in its imaginative renderings of medieval hoods" (reference is from here).
Again, here is my hood:
The Medieval hood, which was originally a very practical outer garment to cover a person's head and shoulders, protecting both from the elements, bears striking resemblance to this revived form:

This hood was also a part of the garb of monks in that era.

The Medieval hood, in some cases, also had what is known as a "liripipe," a long tail hanging from the back of a hood.
You can see the modern stylized version of this on my own hood.

From an article on "Academic hood development" we read that "By 1463 the favourite dress of doctors was the hood with round bell-shaped cape, and the liripipe, which was now shortened or entirely removed and replaced by a separate article, the scarf, now represented by the lapel or panel. By 1592 the hood was worn with the lining displayed." See here for the linked article. The article also notes that "By the fifteenth century the hood came to be seen, in England at least, as a token of graduation and was given distinctive colours and lining."

In an article on the evolution of hood patterns, they echo the observation made above that "initially they evolve from the actual medieval headgear used by everyone." The article then notes that "the medieval hood consists of three parts: the cowl (or hood proper), the cape (or shoulder) and the liripipe.  Exactly what shape the medieval academic hood had is open to question, but it doubtless was the same as the hood in everyday use." Then, referencing the Warham Guild style in particular they note that "a reconstructed version of this, known as the Warham Guild shape...from the company that promoted its use in the will be seen that all three parts are present, although the liripipe is possibly much shorter than the medieval one would have been." Eventually the hood evolved from this form, changing shape and function as time passed.  You can read the remainder of the article here.

I noticed that the Warham guild hoods for the lower degrees, such as the Masters in Ministry and the Master of Arts in Theology were mainly black in the cope portion.  Those of the higher degrees, such as M.Div and STM then adopt the maroon color for the cape, with the red lining for theology.  Maroon appears to be the school's color.

One additional picture of a priest wearing a full hood in the Warham Guild style:
The source is from an article here from 1915 in reference to the Warham Guild.  It is captioned: "Doctor's Full Choir Habit. (Surplice, Scarlet Chimere, true Hood, Tippet, and Cap.)" I find it interesting that it notes the "true Hood."  The Warham Guild attempted over a century ago to restore what they believed was the original hood design.

Here is another image from the 1950's:

Going back to our own era, here is a present day example of a hood much like mine, this one borrowed from "Robes of Distinction."
It is posted on a Pinterest site under the designation "Ornaments of the Church," which also includes many examples of ecclesiastical garments, although this one is identified as "University of Hull, BA".  The academic color of the lining corresponds to the school color, which is turquoise.  The University of Hull is in England, and I am not aware of any other institution in the US, save Nashotah, that uses this unique style of academic hood.   In checking the school's website, it does not appear that this style of hood is currently used, so the picture might be from an earlier period.  Their site also notes that "the distinguishing feature of the System to be used in the University of Hull may be termed 'The Single Silk System', i.e. one special silk (turquoise blue taffeta) lines." Note: Where this hood has the lining in the color of the institution, I am now wondering how this works for Nashotah.  Red is, in the American system, at least, the academic color of theology. 

Some additional information from a online discussion board for musicians.  One participant wrote: "By the way IanW, I just purchased, for the fun of it, a Warham Guild-style hood from Wippell of London (I hold a Doctor of Musical Arts from a "Big 10" university). Its design is adapted to the American academic regulation (with the institution colors in the lining and a 4-inch border of the discipline color in velvet around the bottom edge. It actually looks really amazing, and I can't wait for the opportunity, however rare, to wear it with cassock and surplice, as it was designed."  Interesting.  I had wondered how I would wear this hood for an academic occasion outside of the church.  I thought of purchasing a standard master's gown (if needed), but according to this source that would not be entirely correct.  Perhaps that is why the picture above is on a white robe instead of a black one. And according to the source above this hood was originally "promoted its use in the church." So I guess I'll figure out what to do when and if such an occasion arises.

So far the closest thing I have found in academia that resembles a Warham Guild hood are the ones used in Australia, specifically at Deakin University. The one below is for a master's degree by research:

Also, here is some more information on the evolution of the hood from STILIM.AZ:
"Medieval dress consisted of a flowing gown or cappa clausa, with a cape or cloak draped over the top. This often had a cowl-like appendage that could be pulled over the head, much like a hooded cape or capitium. By the second half of the fifteenth century, the fashion had progressed toward an open gown, said to be an expression of the new acceptance of academic learning and the arts. From 1490 onward this gown became standard academic dress, with the hooded cape becoming more ornamental than practical. Most commonly, bachelors and masters scholars wore black gowns made of “princes stuff” or “crape,” with the senior man’s garment having wider sleeves to allow for movement while teaching. The dress hood took the form of a drooping cape, lined with silk or fur to denote the scholar’s faculty or social status. For example, in 1432 Oxford forbade the use of miniver for anyone except Masters of the Arts and those of great wealth or noble birth. Variations in sleeve style and lining continued to mirror fashionable dress, and by the sixteenth century academics followed professionals and the clergy in the wearing of caps.
It is difficult to pinpoint the origins of the academic cap, but it is thought to have evolved as a variation on the ecclesiastic pileus cap and the medieval head scarf. Most contemporary graduates wear the trencher form of the pileus quadratus-or the Oxford mortarboard. This consists of a small skullcap, shaped to fit the head, and a flat, square top, adorned with a silk tassel. This form of headwear became popular with the clergy after the Restoration, when it was thought that emphasizing “squareness” denoted greater dedication. However, the modern academic form was not popularized until the eighteenth century, when wood or card was used to stiffen the square. Some philosophical doctors or secular doctors may wear a variation of the Tudor Bonnet, a softer, fuller hat, or if of Scottish origin, the John Knox cap."  (
Here are some examples from Spain, the only place that seems to use a true cape-style hood:

These people are wearing attire for those with honorary doctorates. The green cape is for education, and I think the blue one on the top is for the sciences. The third one is the president of the European Union.  It appears that these capes do not have a hood, an evolution of the garment in modern time, perhaps.  I am not sure what the gold symbolizes, or the red. They seem to come in a variety of colors.
More searches......Here is a picture of the faculty at Trinity Episcopal School of Ministry.  The gentleman on the second row, far right, appears to be wearing a Warham Guild hood with his doctoral robe.  Far as I can tell he is the Rev. Dr. Henry L. Thompson III, whose doctorate is a D.Min from the same institution.

Not sure if this was the original hood that he was awarded, though.

Addition (October 5, 2016): I discovered that court dress in England and Wales also utilizes a style of hood similar to the Warham Guild.  In the picture below are circuit judges, I believe from Wales. You will note the distinctive cape style of hood. This style is also utilized by others in the legal profession on very ceremonial occasions, such as the Opening of the Legal Year at Westminster Abbey.



Graduation from Nashotah - At Last!

It took six years in total for me to finally make it across the finish line, and twenty years from the time I took my first graduate course.  However, as of April 29 the thesis was successfully defended, and as of this past Thursday, May 26, I was officially awarded the Master of Sacred Theology degree.  I have chronicled my journey over the years through this blog, and it's nice to finally write about the completion of this process.  My first post in 2010 describes the beginning, and subsequent posts along the way fill out the journey (If anyone reading this is truly interested in the remaining posts, simply type "Nashotah" in the search box in the upper left corner). It's hard to believe that I initially registered for the thesis hours in the summer of 2012, nearly four years ago!! At my defense I had actually not been on campus since January 2014 when I spent an entire weekend researching the thesis in the library. It's been a long, interesting journey, to say the least.

Overall I am very pleased with the graduate program at Nashotah.  True, they went through more than a few transitions during my tenure, including multiple changes in deans, registrars, readers, and heads of the graduate department.  Then there were the two proposals I wrote in order to get to a manageable topic on which to write.  That was no less than forty pages of writing alone.  At times the process was maddeningly frustrating.  I don't think I ever seriously entertained the possibility of quitting.  Too much was invested, both time and effort.  Still, remaining optimistic did pose a challenge over the years.

All said, however, I gained much from the rigors of graduate work.  I added to my knowledge, and I learned valuable lessons in the academic process of research.  It was interesting to begin the research process believing that I would be supporting the original thesis idea, only to get to the end and discover that I could not.  However, that, too, is part of graduate studies.  I learned to be a more mature scholar who could critique and analyze information.  Too often writers - and even credentialed scholars - put forward ideas without adequate support and documentation.  At this level of study you have to find the courage to believe you can examine their ideas and offer reasonable criticism.  Based on the defense of my thesis it appears that I did just that.

It was also interesting to do graduate work in a theological context different than my own.  Many Lutheran scholars have done this as well, some receiving their graduate degrees from such places as Marquette University, Notre Dame University (both Roman Catholic), Princeton, Harvard, and various institutions representing the Baptists, Evangelicals, and others. Working with Episcopalians, especially of the Anglo-Catholic variety, was a fascinating experience.  They have a very high view of the liturgy, which for me was a true plus.  Nashotah also felt like a connection with the Church of England and its storied and historic past.

At the graduation at Noble Victory Memorial Chapel (at St. John's Northwestern Military Academy), the conferring of degrees was done in Latin.
I knew this ahead of time, but to be honest it was a bit intimidating.  Something as simple as instructions to sit and stand were challenging to discern.  However, it all had a very historic feel to it, and coupled with the beauty of the older, stone chapel, I again felt transported back to another time and place. As you can see in the picture, my diploma was also entirely in Latin.  I am particularly pleased with one Latin phrase: cum laude ("with honor").  I had hoped to end my formal academic work on a high note.

The graduation service was in the context of what high church Anglicans call a "Solemn Mass."  It was presided over by the bishop from the Springfield, Illinois dioceses, the Rt. Rev. Daniel H. Martins, who is also the chairman of the Board of Directors at Nashotah.  Earned degrees were awarded by the Very Rev. Steven A. Peay, dean of Nashotah.  When your named was called you would go forward toward the altar and keel before the dean.  After the invocation you would remove your tippet (an ecclesiastical scarf that is the sign of ordained status; usually worn as part of "choir dress" at non-Eucharistic services), then the hood was placed over your head.  In the picture above you see that I am wearing a different kind of academic hood than you might be accustomed to seeing.  It is in a "Warham Guild" style of hood, which is a kind of revival of the pre-Reformation form.  The red satin collar and lining is for theology, and the maroon exterior of the cape, I believe, is the color of Nashotah (which is also reflected in their doctoral robes).  I had a choice between this and a more "Oxford" style, but I wanted something different and uniquely Nashotah.  In looking at the internet I do not really other institutions using this style, with the notable exception, perhaps of the Spanish universities.
In the picture you will notice the bishop in the gold chasuble and miter, flanked by Nashotah's dean on one side and the commencement preacher on the other.  I am in the first full row above them. A little later in the afternoon we took a second picture on Nashotah's campus in front of the "cloister," right by the room where I defended my thesis.
I am in the second row right behind the dean who is in the center, front row. Dr. Garwood Anderson, one of the readers of my thesis and also my primary professor for Biblical studies, is to his left.  Well, here is a summary of the journey:

  • February 2010 - I decided to apply for the STM program at Nashotah.
  • May 2010 - I am accepted into the program and register for my first classes.
  • Summer 2010 - I took my first two classes: The New Perspective on Paul: A Critical Engagement with Recent Trends in Pauline Scholarship with Dr. Garwood Anderson, and Liturgical Change in the Church of England, 1928-2008: Controversy, Conflict, and Comprehension with Canon Jeremy Haselock of the Norwich Cathedral.
  • January 2011 - I took one class with Anderson on the Book of Romans.
  • Summer 2011 - I took two more classes:  The History of the English Hymnal with Dr. David Herman, and The History and Function of the Liturgical Year with the Rev. Dr. Philip Pfatteicher.
  • Fall 2011 - The paper I wrote for Anderson in my 2010 summer intensive is published in the Reformation issue of LOGIA. 
  • Summer 2012 - I enrolled for my thesis hours. 
  • April 2013 - The final proposal for the thesis is ready to submit to the committee.  (I wrote two proposals. One ended up being too broad.)
  • January 2014 - I spent an entire weekend researching in the library at Nashotah. 
  • August 2015 - The first complete draft of the thesis is completed and ready for proofreading and review. 
  • December 2015 - A reviewed copy is sent to the readers.  I am hoping this one can be ready for the defense. 
  • January - April 2016 - Additional review and further editing.  
  • April 2016 - The thesis is defended. 
  • May 2016 - Graduation!!!!!

Saturday, March 19, 2016


Although a very readable book, finishing the nearly 300 pages took me longer than desired.  Part of this was due, in part, to the final revisions on my thesis and the ongoing labor of pastoral tasks.  Normally I don't have the opportunity to read and review such a new book (Yale University Press, 2015), but my wife, who works at the local library, saw it as a new acquisition and brought it home, aware of my interest.  Hendrix produces a fresh and somewhat original biography, choosing to see Luther not as a larger-than-life saint, but as a man given to a very human combination of strengths and weaknesses.  Although it might seem as if such a biography could turn into an attempt to downgrade the great reformer from the usual accolades of those who admire him, Hendrix instead reveals his flaws while clarifying misunderstandings of Luther, placing everything into the historical context of the times.  Seeing this human side of Luther is actually refreshing since our heroes too often seem super-human and thus practically unreal and intangible.  Hendrix does recognize Luther's passion and commitment to the Gospel and to Christ, even as he exposes his sometimes human foibles.  Many historical details gave vivid context to the story, helping the reader to feel far closer to the events than many more academic accounts.  I would actually like to purchase this book and reread it in the near future as it seems impossible to soak up all that you read over a period of many weeks.  Hendrix also does a wonderful job of describing the various personalities that surrounded Luther, helping the reader to appreciate their true value in the reformation, which like most endeavors in life, is seldom the work of just one man. I highly recommend this biography to anyone interested in the life and times of Martin Luther, especially as we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.