My Sabbatical from the Academy So Far

I have decided given the recent circumstances the past six months or so, that it is in my best interest to take at least a year off from the Academy, i.e., no PhD applications or what not.  Along the way, I have learned a few things about myself.

1. I have once again become a fan of Science fiction, both novels and television, thanks in large part to the now defunct series, Caprica. I honestly had once lost my faith in Science fiction genre, starting all the way back to Star Trek Enterprise and Star Trek Voyager. But now, I find myself trying to catch up with Battle Star Galactica (starting from the late 1970s) as well as the Green Lantern story with the help of Optimistic Chad.

2. I have discovered that, at this time, I am becoming less and less generous with thinkers that I disagree with. Thus, my multiple posts criticizing John Milbank (even though I was civil) as well as my comments concerning the Father of Super-Orthodoxy Karl Barth elsewhere in the theoblogosphere as well as on Twitter a few times this week.

3. Lastly, I think to find where I am theologically and politically, I see myself as “sipping the Kool-Aid” of post-colonial theory which some Super-Orthodox Christians consider to be poisonous.  It’s definitely a time to discover who I do not agree with, who I am not, and why. Sadly, I have fallen behind on my reading of the Church Fathers and Mothers, but that can wait as I try to read up more on Science Fiction and Black literary works.  A working theological  paradigm I see being constructed is a more Wesleyan/Arminian/Free Will, liberationist Christian worldview with sympathies to the Holiness and Baptist Free church traditions, with a non-violent,  anti-imperial and libertarian politics. I see this not only as some of the ideas that I adhere to, but also an appropriate counter-narratival response to what I see in theological studies which is currently the dominion of so-called “high-Church,” communitarians, Anabaptists and Calvinists who focus on hegemony, I mean uh, unity and the sacrament of  the Eucharist as the answer to all social problems. I realize that as both an African-American as well as principled libertarian, I remain on the margins of the academy (both liberal/mainline and conservative/evangelical).

And I would have it no other way.

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0 thoughts on “My Sabbatical from the Academy So Far

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  2. myles

    Rod, I took two years off between seminary and PhD work, and as you’re finding, it can be a very clarifying time. But a question: are we talking about the same academy? Where do you find the “hegemony” of high church folks in the AAR?

    At the recent AAR, I didn’t see hardly anything that came close to this kind of “dominion” you’re wanting to avoid. If anything, I find what you’re putting forth vis-a-vis liberation to be the new mainline position of the AAR, with folks who want to talk about the Eucharist very much on the side. Now, if we’re talking about church life, there’s a different majority which is neither Eucharistic or liberation, but that’s a different story.

    Reply
    1. Rod of Alexandria Post author

      I am not necessarily talking about the AAR, since I was not able to be there this year, but much of the material that I read, for example whether it is Hauerwas or progressives that want to promote “unity” on one side of the spectrum, and on the more moderate evangelical side, I notice the term “anglo-catholic” and/or anabaptist dropped a lot. I see a common strand where everyone is very quick to be self-loathing Protestants (self-criticism is great) but I feel that theological and doctrinal differences are being downplayed in order to form a more dishonest and hegemonic unity among Christians.

      Another trend I see on the rise (this is just me personally), is the study of ritual among biblical scholars, practical and constructive theologians. In terms of sacraments, it is primarily the Eucharist that gets the most attention, while Baptism is neglected.

      As for liberation being part of the AAR, I would say that it has been my experience that everyone in some manner or another likes to claim they are pro-liberation theology, or that their theology encompasses the concerns of liberation, but I would not say they are doing liberation theology. LT has its weaknesses and I will gladly admit to them, but not everyone that uses the term liberation is an LT. LTs are not considered to be theological authorities at the head of the game, more like appendages as something of a sideshow. Really, the attitude is among theologians is that LT has been discredited since it has supposedly “failed.” Like I mentioned in my post, and to include Moltmann as well, Barth, Bonhoeffer, Tillich, the Niebuhrs are considered to be larger than life and one of them in particular gets off scot free from critique as followers adore him.

      The reason why I love the AAR way more than SBL is because everyone is welcome; there are evangelical, reformed, pentecostal, liberal, secular, and other perspectives that are given space. AAR is primarily liberal/mainline in its approach to religious studies. Many good-willed liberal/mainline Christians consider themselves to be for social justice, and so therefore, they are for liberation; I think this is not necessarily true. LTs have an excellent critique of liberals as well as conservatives.

      Politically, I think I would be at odds officially with many LT that promote social democracy, but there is nothing in the LT rule book that says you have to become part of some hegemonic political cult in order to be a part of LT. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Bridget

    Battlestar Galactica is without question some of the best television in years. Maybe ever.

    I’m fond of Caprica, but BSG… genius.

    (Clearly, this was an in-depth theological comment that required much thought.)

    Reply
  4. Bobby Grow

    Rod,

    I would like to apologize, once again, for my responses to you. Especially for the “post-colonialist” comment. Please forgive me for that?

    I also want to be clear about something else; I have never challenged or even questioned your “salvation.” Just because I disagree with plenty of your views, does not mean at the same time that I have ever had an inkling that you don’t love Jesus . . . I know you do!

    Also, I just want to be clear about something else (and it’s pertinent to your post here); I am not a Barthian (I know Barthians at PTS, but I’m no Barthian). I’ve barely read any of his CD, I’ve read a couple of his other books (and commentary) and then more secondary stuff on him. In many ways, I reject much of what Barth had to say. Also, I find him hard to follow, etc. And with Torrance, I do like him; but at the same time, I’m not un-critical of him either (esp. his view of Scripture, in some ways). Calvin, I study him (primarily) because I’m working on a book project that involves him. In the main, I reject his view of election, etc.

    If we had crossed paths just 3 years ago, I would’ve been right there with you; I didn’t like Barth then, barely heard of Torrance, and was troubled by many things that Calvin had to offer. I’ve always considered myself a “Bible” guy — and still do — unfortunately what stands out through my blog life right now is the “Evangelical Calvinist” stuff (which I definitely hold to). Once the book is finished, I plan on discontinuing that blog; and hopefully that “identity” in some ways.

    Anyway, I think you’re a smart thoughtful guy, Rod; and I just can’t leave things the way I left them with you. Sorry brother!

    pax.

    Reply
    1. Rod of Alexandria Post author

      I appreciate your apology Bobby.

      But save the flattery, please? I need no one’s affirmation, and compliments after an apology come off as disingenuous, and are really not necessary. Sorry.

      Reply
  5. Bobby Grow

    Peace, before the Lord, then, Rod.

    And I meant the compliments. I’m not trying to affirm you, I’m trying to let you know that I’m sorry about this whole thing; I’m trying to act like a Christian at the moment, to be a man in the Lord. The only reason I came back over here, to do this, once again (and I’m referring to past times that I’ve had to do this with you 🙁 ), is because I have been convicted about it! Your response is between you and the Lord, then.

    Have a good life, and enjoy your sabbatical.

    pax.

    Reply
  6. Celucien Joseph

    Keep up the good work, bro! I wish that I had taken a break before moving It is too exhausting, especially having a family (in my case).

    Reply
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