In the fall of 2012, I assisted Concordia University in Montreal in order to complete two classes in Religious Studies, since I needed at least 6 credits to apply to McGill University. I took both “History of Christianity: Mystics, Heretics, and the Reformers,” under Josée Campion, and “History of Satan,” under Prof. Lorenzo DiTommaso. I received an A- in both classes. I had started on a bad foot in both of them: my first research papers were graded B or B- and I was not please! I remember meeting with both Josée and Prof. DiTommaso to find out the reasons I was given those grades since I really thought I had performed much better. I really wanted to succeed. I did not want to pay my tuition to fail and not be able to apply to McGill University. That was the entire endeavor while I was still working my full-time job. I had no life that entire fall semester in 2012. I worked 40 hours a week and studied at night and weekends. I had no time to go to church on Sundays because I still had to write research papers for the following Mondays. Josée and Lorenzo were both helpful, but it only showed later towards the middle of the fall, when I showed the strong desire that I wanted to succeed, and they both rated my subsequent research papers with B+, A, and A- until the final research paper submissions. I completed the semester and I earned a final grade of A- in both classes. This gave me 6 credits and I was going to be able to apply to McGill for Religious Studies—Biblical Studies. I applied to McGill in early 2013 and I was admitted in summer 2013 for the 2013 Fall Semester. However, due to work complications, financial difficulties, and other personal obstacles, I cancelled my admission that summer and I continued working at my full-time job. In the fall of 2013, I contacted Mike Heiser and I asked him if he could write a Letter of Reference so that I may be admitted to a Master of Arts program at Concordia University. He did so, which I still have in my possession, and it is dated October 2013. I met Dr. Marie-France Dion—who was Graduate Program Director of the Department of Theological Studies at the time—during the fall of 2013 to find out if I could have skipped a B.A. and enter a M.A. program with the Letter of Reference by Mike Heiser. She lightly agreed that I was competent enough, but she could not allow such situation since there were too many applications waiting in line and I had to get a B.A. like everyone else; she could not privilege anyone. In 2014, I reconsidered going through a B.A., but I abandoned the idea.
I wrote about this situation in my 2015 book review of Mike Heiser’s The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (Lexham Press, 2015). However, I just noticed while writing this blog post that my chronological retelling of my application (and subsequent cancellation) to McGill and my meeting with Dr. Marie-France Dion is inaccurate in that 2015 review—in case you wonder why I seem to contradict myself with my present retelling of those events. I remain as an IT Technician, but I am wondering if I could not possibly reconsider getting a B.A. and M.A. in Religious Studies, eventually concentrating in Old Testament studies. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the whole world to better adapt distance learning for remote students, I am seriously revisiting the possibility of becoming an accredited researcher and, eventually, a scholar. If this endeavor becomes reality, I would then consider a Ph.D. I am unsure if at that point I would concentrate in the OT or in the NT. I do not think I would concentrate in Second Temple Judaism nor in the Patristic Fathers, and certainly not in Gnosticism and Coptic.
All of this means that I would possibly change career in the next five years. Last week, I was thinking of obtaining a certificate in Biblical Studies from a university in Montreal or Laval, or from a theological institute. I am not aware of any seminary around here. However, I have never seen a recognized biblical scholar or researcher who only have a certificate in Biblical Studies as credentials. I think that a certificate would not give me much credibility as a researcher. Since I would like to become a genuine researcher and writer (not a pastor, teacher or counselor), I do not think it would be valuable or worthwhile for me to obtain a certificate. One advantage with earning a certificate is that I could more easily do so while I still remain in my full-time job. The challenges with getting a Master of Arts, and then maybe a Doctorate, would be financial and family-related—I would have to abandon my full-time job; otherwise, I will have no life for years.
In the end, I might not do anything and simply continue as I am. Maybe the end of the world will arrive before I can even make a decision in the coming years. I am joking. Seriously, I am really scratching my head at this point as to what I will do with my near future.