Saturday, November 15, 2008

Faith Irony

I wrote a paper for phd school this week. The assignment was to read a book assigned by the prof, pick and audience that might benefit from reading that book, and write a review of the book to encourage them to read it. I found it to be an interesting assignment, especially because I am somewhat obsessed with writing.

I decided to write the review for DCEs working with young adults. I began the review by talking about how researchers can sometimes overgeneralize their findings because they do not spend time in the field observing and working long term with the young adults about which they theorize. I explained how that creates a gap between theory and practice. I knew my intended audience would understand that those in academia often just don’t “get it” when it comes to what teachers and youth workers deal with on a daily basis. I wanted to point out how and why this particular book was different.

My professor sent my paper back with a comment saying he didn’t understand the point of my introduction.

Let’s chalk it up to my first experience with academic irony.

Okay, I will go back and rework the paper. I am grateful that my prof gives this option. I will do what I should have done in the first place, and write the paper with the prof as the intended audience. Besides, for me to clearly explain my introduction would take a good 5000 words and neither he, nor I, have time for that.

I am reminded about a characteristic of 5-6-7 year old children that I always found rather endearing. They were like little police officers, lawyers and judges; they knew all the rules and how to apply them to every one but themselves. If I was talking to the class about a particular behavior I could invariably predict the response. (It is easy to know what young children are thinking because they have the habit of thinking out loud.) They were each sure I didn’t mean them. They would usually even glare at the person they were sure I did intend to talk to. This of course created a situation of students all looking at each other. Covert finger-pointing was usually involved.

I guess they didn’t get the point, either.

So, what is God trying to explain to me? Am I the rare, but, beloved child who knows the rules and actually follows them; or am I the one casting the undeserved glare at someone else? Do I “get it”?

The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers,

the exalted of the earth languish. The earth is defiled by its people;

they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant.

Isaiah 24:4-5

Hmmmm, I wonder if He means me? I wonder if I am a little rankled by my professor’s assertion that “religions think they have invented morality”? Perhaps that is what is behind my obscure introduction. Maybe I wanted to make him squirm a bit. It’s probably a good thing my writing was not very clear. Yeah, I better go back and rewrite.

Each morning before I read my Bible, my prayer is the following verse:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

From scripture to God’s ears to my heart; let it be so.

He is good. His love endures forever. II Chron. 7:3

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