DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Turabian for a bit of fun: the pain and anguish

Written by: on October 8, 2018

Where to start? Having arrived home from Shanghai, sleep is elusive and the need to work through a painful moment at the 2018 Advance in Hong Kong is preying on my mind. It needs to be exercised by writing.

The anguish began on the second day as I sat with someone I did not yet know. All was well until A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations [1] got a mention and she opened her bag and seductively withdrew a beautiful new copy of the book. Immediately I noticed it was different from mine. Hers was blue; mine was red – my heart dropped. Then the full truth was laid bare, she had the 9th edition while mine was the 8th. At that moment I would be forever on the back foot; behind the eight ball; a student living in the past. My citations and bibliographic referencing would always be in the shadows. Had Loren set me up? Was there some disingenuity when the book list was sent out to the New Zealander?  What to do? How would I recover from the shame of being an academic ‘has been’? Even Mario sensed it, claiming he could only trust 20 per cent of anything I said. He didn’t know the truth: I’m only an unreliable 8th edition student. It explained everything. But then my inner grey-faced pragmatist screamed at me, ‘just buy the latest version, you idiot’. But it didn’t understand; you can’t just buy a new self. You can’t just erase the past as if it didn’t happen. My old 8th edition persona had been fixed. I should have seen Mary Pandiani.

In the silent suffering, I needed an exegesis for the feelings that kept exploding, but none was forthcoming. Even then, however, understanding the ‘why’ would still require a subtle but appropriate hermeneutic to get through the rest of the programme. But after nine days in Hong Kong, there was no obvious path ahead.

Then came Shanghai and the Amanyangyun resort. In that quiet (and frighteningly expensive) luxury resort I found answers. I was thrust back to the 7th century Tang Dynasty and the power of numbers. There the epiphany unfolded, everything became clear – 9 was the emperor’s number. It was the highest of all single digits – 9 is arrival, and I was an 8. I was a ‘nearly made it’. I was an ‘almost,’ but not an ‘entirety’. The full force of my inferiority became apparent, and I finally understood. I had my exegesis. But what now?

I thought about the words of Jesus, ‘The first shall be last, and the last first’,  but that was no comfort, I wasn’t either of them – so close but so far. Then I thought about the poor saps stuck with the 7th edition, but they were better off being in the ‘middle of the pack’; unseen, ordinary folk whose footnotes won’t ever be read by Jason.

Hope came, however, in a sleepless moment at 50,000 feet over the Pacific ocean while watching the Matrix. Morpheus said to Neo, ‘you must go back to the source’, and that’s when it hit me, yes, I need to get the 9th edition, but, to be complete, I also need the 1st edition – the Alpha and the Omega. So while waiting in Auckland, I searche Ebay and found a genuine second-hand 1st ed of Turabian for $1.99, which I have ordered. Now I know where my own edition comes from – a sense of who I am in the academic order of things, a kind of bibliographgeschicte.

So, as a review, never has a book had such a torturous emotional impact on my academic life. So, if you do choose to purchase a copy, get the 9th Edition and save yourself the anguish. With any luck, the publishers will cease torturing budding academics, and if they do continue the practice, hopefully, my account will inspire the need to, ‘check before you buy’.

[1] Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations : Chicago Style for Students and Researchers. 8th ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2013.

(Note the inferior 8th edition formatting)

About the Author

Digby Wilkinson

I am currently the Vicar of the Tawa Anglican Church in Wellington, New Zealand. I have only been in this role since February 2018. Prior to this appointment, I was the Dean of the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, which made me the senior priest of the diocese working alongside the Bishop. I guess from an American perspective this makes me look decidedly Episcopalian, however my ministry background and training was among the Baptists. Consequently, I have been serving as pastor/priest for nearly thirty years. My wife Jane also trained for ministry, and has spent the last decade spiritually directing and supervising church leaders from different denominations. We have three grown children.

8 responses to “Turabian for a bit of fun: the pain and anguish”

  1. I like that Digby, I managed to get the kiddle version of the book and I guess I am all set for the course.

  2. mm Karen Rouggly says:

    You’re welcome for this anguish. You didn’t name names, but I know it was me. You’re. Welcome.

  3. mm Jenn Burnett says:

    How did I wait so long to read this! (Besides the obvious necessity of finishing my own required blogging.) However I am questioning where in time this event occurred. The encounter in question is said to have occurred at the 2019 advance, though you confirm it was in Hong Kong. I must conclude therefore that this has all transpired in the elusive time that is lost and gained when one travels across timelines and may thus find the space-time continuum disrupted.

    • Digby Wilkinson says:

      I’m not surprised by your confusion. I did write this in a Jet Lagged stupor. However, what escapes people from your part of the world is the we NZ’ers do everything ahead of time. So, doing an advance in advance of you is not entirely without possibility. If you and I do something at exactly the same moment in reality, I still did it ahead of you. Amazing. However, I have corrected the time error for the benefit of those left behind.

  4. mm Mary Mims says:

    Is this your attempt at extra credit Digby? I think you forgot how lucky of a number 8 is to those in Hong Kong. You would have know this if you had went shopping with me.

  5. mm Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Well Digby, I just arrived in another hotel after two flights, tired and needing to engage some books only to read this and find myself laughing out loud! Thank you for the much needed levity.

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