Anti-intellectualism in the church has been well documented (Noll 1995) and is still a problem for Christian academics today. It may appear in many guises, but one is what Don Carson calls “blue-collar arrogance”. This is the idea that if you can’t do something practical – so that others can see the direct benefit or fruit of it, your job is fairly pointless. I encountered this recently when I was asked, “don’t you want to become a lawyer, teacher or vicar? In those jobs you can help people, serve the Church financially or serve the Church theologically and pastorally.”
A simple and effective way to talk about the Christian faith is to craft speech acts about heroes and villains. For example, I was talking recently to a financial adviser about investing money in a variety of portfolios and my wife, Anne and I became bothered about the dodgy nature of some of the schemes. We're talking about our money being invested in weapons, tobacco and pornography companies. This is how the conversation went with 'Brian'.
This week, I’m taking a look at another initiative concerned with Christian scholarship.
Grad Resources has a unique model for engaging with the university. Based in the USA, it has a telephone helpline dedicated to PhD students in moments of crisis, or who feel a need for anonymous support. The National Grad Crisis Line (freephone
1.800.GRAD.HLP) receives hundreds of calls a month, apparently helping many postgraduate students avoid despair, self-harm and even suicide.
Recently I took time out of a holiday to finish preparing a conference paper. At the same time I could see a colleague becoming more stressed with the pressure of their work load, and read an article by the Vice Chancellor of a large British university, in which he admitted that university staff could not be expected to absorb any more work.
In this course we look at the things celebrities do and say and then we invite young adults (18-21 years of age) to respond. What is an intelligent Christian response? Each session has the following structure:
At one of our postgrads’ discussions, a friend doing a PhD in literature was sharing how difficult it is to attribute special authority to the Bible in the English faculty, where a first principal is that all texts are treated equally. Must we just make a special exception for this book, and take the ridicule on the (other) cheek?
A guest post by George Parsons
To do a PhD is to experience a unique form of chronic suffering. Thus, a description of the subtle downward drag of depression (to which working on a PhD, especially in the final stages, with its elements of exertion, isolation, uncertainty and anxiety, all over a long period, seems often to lead) resonates with me as I battle on with my thesis: ‘Depression says, “Surrender.” The message is relentless, and many comply, because even when you know that there is a purpose to your suffering, the battle seems too long.’