In the next few weeks, I am hoping to submit my thesis. I'm not at the summit of my academic career (at least, I hope I'm not!) but I am approaching a significant waypoint that I've been working towards for three years. I don't really know what I expected to feel as I approached the final incline: victory, perhaps? I certainly don't feel that. I do feel wondrous awe and gratitude, though: at this natural pausing place in my academic (and life) journey, God has pulled me aside, turned me around, and shown me where I am and where I've come. It's a beautiful view.
Thinking Faith blogs
Delighted that the Baptist Times has published my article on how a French teacher can serve God. This is an introduction to the issues of dualism, worldviews, consumerism and serving God outside the sphere of the local church.
Looking outside as I write this, I see that the nights are drawing in and there’s the beginnings of a chill in the air, which can mean only one thing: autumn term is nearly upon us. Inevitably, then, the minds of many academics will fast be turning away from ongoing research projects or thoughts of a holiday (or a kind of tug-of-war between both these things, as Georgina described so well in July), and towards the returning students and the task of teaching.
I'm drawing closer to the end of my doctoral work, and that means a lot of my work at the moment is revising drafts. In the last couple of weeks I have been redrafting the introduction to my thesis. This is slow, bitty work: fixing various details, doing small pieces of further reading and research, tightening up or clarifying expression on sentence level.
I am writing a short booklet which aims to help people to talk creatively about Jesus. This is my first chapter. Love feedback if you have a moment.
Chapter 1 From Food to Jesus
A lot of people enjoy talking about food, recipes and celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsey and Nigella Lawson. Imagine you are cutting up some garlic with a non-Christian friend, Derek, in your kitchen. Try out this possible spiel:
It's vacation season once more and everyone seems to be posting pictures of themselves lounging by the river, sipping G&Ts. No better time, then, to consider the role of rest in our work. Academia seems to offer lots of ‘time off’: Easter breaks, Christmas breaks, and summer breaks can dwarf the terms they punctuate. But we all know that breaks are not really breaks for researchers. When undergrads are away, academics rejoice: now we can really start getting some work done!
Christian thinkers have proposed a range of ideas about what science is, ranging from reading the book of God's works and "thinking God's thoughts after Him" to studying how the Universe runs itself if God doesn't intervene. Views like these were expressed by early modern scientists (Galileo, Bacon, Newton and others) who were Christians of one sort or another, but they needn't be the last word for a theistic perspective on science.
The recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is, of course, tragic. Many heroic doctors, nurses and medics are struggling to contain the virus but did you know that some hardened secularists would welcome this outbreak?
Consider the following story.
In the final year of his life, the atheist novelist Somerset Maugham (1874 – 1965) became terrified of dying and the possibility of judgment by a just and holy God loomed alarmingly. He had led a sordid, decadent and intensely selfish life and he craved secular comfort and consolation. In this state of fevered anguish he summoned the famous atheist philosopher Alfred Ayer to his deathbed in the south of France and pleaded: "Freddie I have led a debauched and depraved life.
In this post I’d like to reflect on a tension that I consider to be quite widespread within academia. ‘Critical thinking’ is often extolled as one of the core virtues necessary for the intellectual life: much university-level teaching is geared towards developing this skill, and it is viewed as foundational for effective research.