Thursday, September 13, 2007

ivory tower? hopefully not...

So I decided today that I'm pretty sure I'm destined for academia, for any of you who care! I just feel like I get a lot of life and energy from studying and learning, and making that information available for people in a way they can understand and find useful.

Tonight was our first Wednesday night programming for the fall. We have small groups for adults, some that are committed to meet through the school year, others on various topics. There's children's programming for all ages of kids, and youth group. I organized all the small groups, which wasn't difficult, and I'm teaching one on the Hebrew Testament.

Although I don't consider myself an expert on the Hebrew Testament (which Christians usually refer to as the Old Testament), I have learned a few things in school and in my own research, and it's fun to be able to share them with interested people. Tonight we talked about the canonization process, and I just noticed myself being really excited about the discussion, being able to share what I know, listening to people's thoughts and opinions, and challenging us all to dig deeper on what we mean when we say "The Bible is the written word of God," when we know that it was edited and changed and added to and there were many different versions and the Hebrew didn't even have vowels, etc. etc. etc. So it was a good discussion, and I enjoyed being able to do the academic, scholarly stuff as well as to dig into what this topic means for us spiritually.

Now, although I may be able to find a church somewhere that would pay me to organize and lead small groups and other classes exclusively, something tells me it wouldn't be in a Quaker setting! (Why do none of us have that kind of money?!) So I imagine I'll be headed for Ph.D. and I'll end up teaching at a college or seminary. My hope is to be able to do that, and not just do the academic, heady stuff, but to incorporate spirituality and experience into teaching about our faith history, sacred documents, and theological doctrines. I hope that I can encourage students to not just learn the stuff, but to really live it. I hope I can be a model of that, and do Christian Peacemaker Teams assignments over the summer or that sort of thing.

Hopefully I won't let myself get stuck in the "ivory tower" academics are always being accused of, but I'll be able to immerse myself in the "real" world, and out of that context and experience allow God to inform my theology. So that's what I'm feeling drawn to right now...check back in in a few years and see how the reality turns out!


Nancy A said...

Studying ancient books and relating them to life today is such, such a cool way to spend a life!

I don't think you need to fear the ivory tower. People imprison themselves in that tower--it doesn't happen by itself. Many academics are desperately introverted. They want to be alone, isolated from others not like them.

Meanwhile, many academics are out there, living, teaching, leading, organizing, doing. They want to stay connected, applying what they have learned, shouting it from mountaintops.

You get to choose.

And get a few books published in your name too!

Scot said...

I get a lot of energy from studying and learning, as well. I also got a lot out of our discussion last evening. You may very well be headed toward an academic career.

However, I hope that you become one of those academics that are actively involved (as Nancy stated) with living, teaching, organizing and doing. We need scholars with passion and hearts to serve who can help the rest of us make meaning and take heart in the living words.

Keep working at it, you are well on your way. I look forward to learning along with you.