I've written before on FiSch, as well as elsewhere, about my research on prayer. Today I want to look at a particular idea which jumped out at me recently, speaking to my own life and practice as well as to the medieval recluses it was meant for. This is the simple statement in Ancrene Wisse, a guide for women recluses, that 'Reading is a good way to pray'.
ideas for academics
As 2019 has come to a close, and a new decade is beginning, I have been thinking about a poem by Emily Dickinson - one of my favourites, for its enigmatic imagery and its expression of longing: 'I did not reach Thee'. Here is the first stanza (you can read the whole thing here):
I did not reach Thee
But my feet slip nearer every day
Three Rivers and a Hill to cross
One Desert and a Sea
I shall not count the journey one
When I am telling thee.
One of the figures in the Bible who I'm most fond of is the prophet Daniel: mainly because, like me, he was a literature student.
Image: 'Jesus Washing Peter's Feet' by Ford Madox Brown (1821–1893). Image freely available at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jesus_washing_Peter%27s_feet.jpg. Image slightly cropped.
‘Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”’ (Mark 9:35)
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.
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.
Is gentleness something academics should aspire to? If a colleague or a peer described you as gentle, would you be pleased, or a little worried?
There's something special about conversations where you can be on the same page with both faith and work.
In his recent post ‘Forays into finance’, Richard reflected on the challenges of institutional sin in his new context of the financial sector: an industry governed by forces which seem to tend towards exploitation of others, manifesting sin beyond the personal to the societal level.
But, of course, you don’t need to be in finance to recognise the way human institutions can be a force for evil. This concept of sin is easily recognisable to those in academia, too.
I've spent much of the last two weeks at academic conferences. Now, while I take a few days off to recover (!), I'm reflecting on some of the challenges of the scholarly environment that can be exposed with particular clarity at this kind of event.