Reasons

March 24, 2008 at 1:32 pm (Education, Personal, The Floppy Hat™)

I think I figured out why I’m a little nervous about this scholarship thing. It’s because of my reasons for wanting to “be a scholar.” I want to be a scholar so that I can take what my field is doing and make it useful for laypeople. No, more than just useful – I want it to make a difference to the way they interpret the Bible, and thus to their beliefs, faith, and ultimately their lives.

Maybe that seems like a high and lofty goal, and I know I’m only one person, but I want to be one small bridge between the ivory towers and everyone else. I don’t have to be well known, or known at all, but if a well known scholar was to read something I wrote, or hear me speak, I’d want to know that I could be considered respectable, i.e. a “real scholar.” Right now, I see that the layperson has very few people to look to whom they can trust for good scholarship. The result is a lot of popular theological rubbish that most scholars scoff at – but the layperson never even knows there’s another way of looking at it, because the same scholars that scoff really aren’t interested in enlightening anyone – most certainly not Christians!

This all stems from my faith – I care about laypeople because I care about the Church. I guess I feel like that makes me a bit of a weirdo in the scholarly world. But, as Calvin reminded me, for every person who writes books and articles and yaks about this or that, there are who knows how many who are just out there teaching, maybe writing an article here or there, but they just care about the students. I go a little further than that – I care about the students, but I also care about the people they will affect with what they learn. (At a Bible college, I could be teaching future pastors, for instance.) So maybe I’m not as much of a weirdo as I think; there are most certainly others with similar passions out there. I guess I just feel a lot of pressure to “perform” correctly.

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3 Comments

  1. wezlo said,

    Yup, I had profs like that at Eastern – they “didn’t publish enough” according to typical scholarly understanding, but boy did they love their students. The thing is, the things they DID publish were great, and built up reputations anyway. Heck, one was just on The Daily Show!

  2. Denise Malagari said,

    I think your goals and reasons are excellent. At seminary I ran into too many people who wanted to be scholars and didn’t care about the church. Thanks for continuing to care and study.

  3. Doug Mangum said,

    Mandy,

    I’m a grad student in Hebrew Bible at Wisconsin. My reasons for seeking a PhD here were very similar to what you’ve described. I want to make what I’ve learned relevant for laypeople, help them read the Bible better, and grow spiritually because of it. So I don’t think you’re a “weirdo” in the scholarly world at all. If you’re still thinking about Wisconsin, I’d be glad to tell you more about the program.

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