As I may have mentioned on the blog already, I am on academic leave this entire year. Most places call that a sabbatical, but in North Carolina sabbatical is a four-letter word. The idea here is that since we are state-employees and, well, other state-employees don’t get time off from their day job to do their research – so why should professors? Interesting point.
But of course for professors at research universities, it is all about the research.
When I was in my PhD program, my plan was to teach in a Christian seminary or divinity school, hopefully one like Princeton Theological Seminary, where in addition to training future ministers, faculty have a chance to train PhD students – who will themselves go out to teach and train future ministers. I got into the Bible business as a seventeen-year old eager to learn all I could about the Bible since I believed it was the word of God (more about that, possibly, in a future post); I eventually changed my views about the Bible (as, well, most of you may have noticed….). But I still was a Christian and all of my training had been in Christian contexts. And so I imagined myself teaching in a Christian context. And the highest level teaching in a Christian context is a seminary or divinity school that has a PhD program (in case you have wondered: the difference between a seminary and a divinity school is that a seminary is a free-standing institution not connected with a larger university, and a divinity school is a professional school within a university – comparable to a medical school or a law school. And so it is Princeton Seminary, since it is not connected with Princeton University, but it is Harvard Divinity School, since it is a part of Harvard University).
If I were not able to land a job at a seminary, then my next choice was to teach in a Christian liberal arts college, where I could teach courses in Biblical studies still within a Christian context, but to undergraduates rather than to graduate students training for ministry.
My third and final choice was to teach in a non-Christian college or university. At the time, I didn’t think that would be very interesting.
I ended up getting my third choice, and boy am I glad I did.
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