Five great questions of life: Life * Love * Learning * Labor * Leadership
Russian Roulette at NCBCBy Evan Nehring
I walked into the bathroom under the stairs at the back of the North Central chapel on the morning of Monday, December 19, 1988. It was my third year into this 4.0 pursuit. I hadn't slept more than an hour each of the past three nights, studying, and I was on my way to take my Church History I exam. I stopped in front of the mirror and looked at myself, considering this risk I had just taken.
Dr. Gordon Anderson was famously tough and the semester had been challenging. With A’s on my first two exams and a C on my third exam, I had chosen to do the optional research paper for extra credit. Now I needed a strong grade on the final and the pool of material to study was immense.
The final exam covered the first seventeen sections of Bettenson’s Documents of the Christian Church. Each section contained multiple chapters; each chapter contained multiple historical documents. Of the seventeen sections, Dr. Anderson would choose the three sections he deemed most important. Those would be revealed at the time of the final exam and each student would choose one of the three sections to write an outline with reference to Bettenson’s primary sources.
I realized in the middle of my triple all-nighter (I had done about twenty all-nighters this semester) that I would have to gamble. There was no way to memorize that level of detail for multiple sections in the time I had. I chose one: the relationship of Church and State between A.D. 962 and 1216. Fifteen tightly handwritten 3x5 cards with dates, names, events and document references. I memorized it cold, and didn't look at another section.
|Russian Roulette at NCBC|
Breaking my mirror gaze, I scaled the steps to our second floor exam room. There was a map or screen pulled down to cover the brown chalkboard as we all took our seats. I sat against the back wall to isolate. My heart pounded as my roll of the dice was about to be revealed. The hour arrived and Dr. Anderson revealed the three questions he had chosen as the most important.
My heart sunk as I realized “the relationship of Church and State 962-1216” was not on the board. For a few minutes I checked out, my mind swirling with disappointment that my A was gone, my 4.0 was gone, and my massive study weekend had failed.
Unconsoled, I looked to the board to decide which topic I would use for my pathetic attempt at an outline. I can still feel how my heart jumped when I realized…it was there! Dr. Anderson had crafted the questions in such a way that I didn't recognize my section at first, but there it was! Salvation!
My entire memorized outline came spilling out and my posted score was no surprise: 100%. My extra credit writing pulled my final cumulative points to 701/750. I had gotten the A and my 4.0 GPA survived the most serious threat my five years at NCBC would provide.