Thursday, January 3, 2008
According to the Association of Theological Schools, "Sabbatical leave should be conceived of by the teacher and the administration as a time for deeper study, research, or writing. Where possible, location in another center of learning will add breadth to the point of view."
As of yesterday, January 2, 2008, I am officially on a sabbatical, my first. For the next semester, I will spend my time doing one of the two aspects of my academic ministry that I enjoy most: research and writing (the other is teaching in a classroom). The eternal dilemma for the academic is that the two activities (research and teaching) are eternally wedded but sometimes work against each other. Hmmmm....marriage seems to be an appropriate metaphor! I suppose the theory is that we research/write for several years and then spend years teaching what we learned, and then the cycle repeats itself. Unfortunately, one is expected to write and publish all along the way, not just every few years. Beyond the guild's expectation is my own. And even beyond that is my heart and desire. When one is called and gifted for a task, it is frustrating not to be able to do so. I can honestly say that the crunch of PhD research, though sometimes overwhelming, was absolutely fulfilling. I love reading the thoughts of theologians, analyzing, interpreting and constructing. I hope these words will encourage my former students, now colleagues, who are beginning this process. Pace yourself, enjoy yourself and see it as your "spiritual worship".
The third element which vies for the attention of the Academic is the committee/shared governance aspect of the Institution. This varies from school to school, I would imagine. Some seem to find their gift and calling here. For those with administrative gifts, committee work is quite fulfilling. For me, to use the marriage analogy again, the committee work is the "budgets, housework, home repair, etc." of my academic life. It's necessary, it supports the other, but it is not THE thing.
I am blessed to work with good colleagues, good administrators and good students. As a result of their support, I plan to have a productive and rewarding semester!
My plans, specifically, are to continue working on my research into early Pentecostal experiences of Spirit Baptism. I began this work over a year ago with a one-hour research seminar and followed-up on that work in a chapter for the Gause festschrift. That piece is titled "O Boundless Love Divine". In addition, I want to "write-up" the research I've done on post-WW2 Healing Evangelists interpretations of the longer ending of Mark. I also plan to work on a couple of ideas I have for lay-level curriculum.
I'll try to remember to come out of the ivory tower from time to time and report on my musings and findings.