Jonathan Esterman ("Yoni") and I, Terry Rankin, are friends and cohort colleagues in Portland Seminary's Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program at Portland Seminary of George Fox University, (Len Sweet, Lead Mentor). Our dissertations include an 'artifact,' in our case, the collaborative SemioBytes podblog. This is my (Terry's) blog post for our first "Introduction" episode.
'Semiotics' is a recurring theme on SemioBytes, as Yoni and I seek to build bridges of shalom between Judaism and Christianity. Please don't be put off or intimidated by that arcane term, 'semiotics.' It simply refers to theories of signs where a sign is something that stands for something (else). As an interfaith ministry, SemioBytes seeks to identify signs of what might qualify as a 'semiotic theology' placing Judaism and Christianity in resonant harmony despite their unique and distinctive differences.
I began studying semiotics specifically during my MA program at the University of Kentucky in 1975-78, pursued further with IBM 1983-93, and University of Georgia (UGA) 1984-86 while on educational leave from IBM (returning to full-time work there in summer 1986). It continues to be a primary field of intellectual inquiry and practical application, which led me to join the DMin program in Semiotics and Future Studies at Portland Seminary in September 2015 (the program was recently re-named 'Semiotics, Church, and Culture').
My credentials thus far: BA/BS double major in philosophy and maths, MA in formal logic and philosophy of science, and a completed course of PhD studies at UGA in the philosophy and logic of Artificial Intelligence (AI), but no degree. I am retired from IBM, from Wycliffe Bible Translators, and from World Vision USA, with related positions at Oracle, American Cancer Society, and solo consulting services, which I still provide on a selective basis. Yoni and I are in the final stage of our DMin program, with only our dissertations remaining after this summer term.
Becoming a Christian along the way, mid-life in 1992, is an essential part of my story, but I'll save it for future podcasts on SemioBytes and blog posts here in Semio City. To become part of the story with us, Yoni and I invite you to follow us online and to pose questions, propose topics, recommend guests on the podblog, and so on. To do so, please fill out this form.