My dissertation and the start of my book are now live online. YOU CAN READ AND DOWNLOAD IT HERE. This means that I am officially “The Reverend Doctor Jordan Rimmer.” I am not too formal, however. You can call me Rev-Doc. Here is my story of this journey.
I looked at PHD programs after getting my Masters of Divinity, but decided I did not feel called to the academic world. But as I continued in ministry, I decided that I wanted to study under someone to challenge me and push me. I made a list of authors that I was reading, and started checking to see if and where they taught. Leonard Sweet was on the top of my list. I found out that he taught a very unique program out of a school I have never heard of called George Fox University at what is now Portland Seminary.
It was in a field called semiotics, which I had also never heard of. I found out that Semiotics is based on the Greek word for “sign.” It is a combination of linguistics and philosophy that helps you see how people and cultures express themselves in symbols, metaphors, and stories. By reading the times we live in and the Bible and Christian through this lens, we were taught to both predict and shape the future.
The program met in Washington DC, Cambridge UK, and Orcas Island WA. My personal study along the way also took me to Toronto, New York City, and Nashville. I became a national and world traveler in this program–flying more in these 3 years then I had my whole life. I was exposed to cultures and foods that I had never seen before.
Yet my biggest growth was in learning to love Jesus more deeply by being myself. I learned that I was already into semiotics and it was drawn to this kind of thinking, I just didn’t have He language and discipline. Len Sweet would teach, and I would find myself knowing that I would have figured that point out or come to that conclusion on my own eventually, even if it was 100 years from now. I learned to be who I am in this program.I also have never felt so much that I was in the perfect place and that God was so clearly directing my steps as I felt while getting my Doctor of Ministry. It has been exactly what I needed. I felt God’s pleasure and presence as I worked and grew in a way that only marriage and parenting have ever been comparable.
I was surprised to discover the deep and eternal friendships that I have made here, even without very much face-to-face interaction. To have gone through this life-view shaping experience together has been a bond that is hard to describe to people outside of the experience. I can honestly say that my biggest laughs and best aha moments have come on this journey.
I wrote a 200 page dissertation that finished up at Christmas time about The Story Pastor. Part of it was an academic paper about the principles of story could become a paradigm or identity for pastors that might be faithful to the tradition and fruitful today. Part of it was the start of a popular book on how to think in story for pastors. I am still trying to finish that book. I learned how to write in this process, but I also fell in love with and called to writing in this process.
I got a diploma and a bigger academic hood, but those are only symbols of what I received and how I was changed along the way.