Saturday, January 17, 2009

Advice for theological students: ten steps to a brilliant career


Ever fancied yourself a theologian? Ever wondered if you should pursue a degree in theology?

The quite brilliant Ben Myers, over at the "Faith and Theology" blog has this advice for those seeking to be excellent theological students...just absolutely beautifully funny and irreverent (and wise!)

Check out an excerpt below, or read it all HERE.

~ The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Advice for theological students: ten steps to a brilliant career
by Ben Myers, at "Faith and Theology" blog

1. As a theological student, your aim is to accumulate opinions – as many as you can, and as fast as possible. (Exceptional students may acquire all their opinions within the first few weeks; others require an entire semester.) One of the best ways to collect opinions is to choose your theological group (“I shall be progressive,” or “I will be evangelical,” or “I am a Barthian”), then sign up to all the opinions usually associated with that social group. If at first you don’t feel much conviction for these new opinions, just be patient: within twelve months you will be a staunch advocate, and you’ll even be able to help new students acquire the same opinions.

2. At the earliest possible opportunity you should also form an opinion about your favourite theological discipline: that is, you should choose your specialisation. To communicate this choice to others, you should dismiss as trivial or irrelevant all other disciplines: the systematic theologian should teach herself to utter humorous remarks about the worth of “practical” theology, while the New Testament student should learn to hold forth emphatically on the dangers of systematic theology; and so on.

3. As far as possible, you should try to avoid all non-theological interests or pursuits. All your time and energy should be invested in reading important books and discussing important ideas. (Novels in particular should be avoided, as they are a notorious time-waster, and they furnish you with no new opinions.)

4. Every successful theological student must master the proper vocabulary. All theological conversations should be peppered with these termini technici (e.g. “Only a demythologised Barthian ontology can subvert the différance of postmodern theory and re-construe the analogia entis in terms of temporal mediation”). The less comprehensible and more sibylline the sentence uttered, the better. There are some stock-in-trade terms that are de rigueur (e.g. perichoresis, imago Dei, Heilsgeschichte, Bullsgeschichte), but the really outstanding student should find creative ways to deploy a wide range of foreign polysyllabic words. Phrases of Latin, Greek or German derivation are particularly prized. (Those of Hebrew of Syriac extraction should be used more sparingly – they are usually greeted with some puzzlement, or with cries of “Gesundheit!”)

5. Now that you’re a theological student, you will discover that the world is filled with people who don’t share your new opinions. Every conversation should thus be viewed as an opportunity to persuade others of their simple-mindedness and to convert them to a better understanding. If you’re feeling shy about this, you should start by practising on your family and closest friends. And it’s not always necessary to engage in a full-blown discussion; at times a single Latin term or a knowing smirk is all that’s required to demolish another person’s argument.

Read the other five steps HERE

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