Low-Cost Tip #2 Toward More and Better Theologians
Low-cost tip #2 toward more and better theologians for the church:
Have your parish and diocesan newsletters regularly run a brief profile of a living theologian and her/his current work. Make at least some of these about theologians currently doing or recently having finished their Ph.D. With their permission, include an email address or somesuch where people can, if they are so moved, send an encouraging word and/or a small PayPal donation or Amazon.com gift card. This would not only provide encouragement to current theologians, but would raise awareness that theology is a valued field in the church. Parishioners may as a result deepen their theological reading and conversation -- and some who are being called by God to serve the church as a vocational theologian will become aware for the first time that there IS such a thing as a vocational theologian!
Cost to your seminary/diocese: $0. Cost to seminaries: $0.
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I think this is a great idea, but as one of the privileged few with a full-time job in parish ministry, my first thought is, who will I find to research and write such profiles? I know I don't have time for it; I don't know who does. If one happened to be blessed with the right motivated lay volunteer who wanted to take on the task, that would be great... but having that volunteer can't be counted on.
I think this practical problem is symptomatic of the same larger issue you're pointing to - an institutional church that is so caught up in day-to-day this-and-that that the great task of reflecting on God and our relationship with God (and listening to the scholars called deeply into that work) is not receiving the attention it should... But that doesn't help me with a solution.
If such profiles were available to borrow & reprint somewhere, that would be a different story...
Posted by: Miranda Hassett | Jan 7, 2010 1:07:52 PM
Miranda -- great question!
I could in about five minutes toss up a page on SarahLaughed.net to which working TEC theologians could post a photo and a little profile introducing themselves and their work. I'd administer the page as a volunteer (appreciating donations to support this and other things I do for the church, of course), and would do the bit of fact-checking necessary to make sure the profiles are legit and are posted by the ostensible author.
Before I went to that much trouble, though, I'd want to know that there are a bunch of clergy and diocesan staff who would make use of it. So, are there enough people out there who would take it upon themselves to tell their colleagues at the parish and diocesan level about this, such that I get requests from them to set up the page? I'd be happy to get the word out among theologians if that's the case.
Posted by: Sarah Dylan Breuer | Jan 8, 2010 2:30:26 PM