Friday, November 09, 2012

From Philosophical to Practical; From Academic to Application

I recently attended and presented at a conference, The Christian Evasion of Popular Culture, and my mind was stretched by listening to philosophers and theologians.  Overall, it was a very academic conference (though my presentation was not so much).  As I have been processing some of my thoughts ("this is way over my head"; "how great to meet these people in person", "I am hanging out with who?  Is this real?") one thought kept returning to my mind:  "so what?"

The "so what?" comes from a long-ago conversation I had with a pastor who was telling me about the first sermon assignment he had in seminary.  The professor returned it with the words "so what?" written on it.  In other words, "why is any of what you said important?"

When it comes to the realm of the deep thoughts of the theological and philosophical, I am out of practice.  I have been out of college for 12 years and the last seminary class I took was 7 years ago.  Since then, I have had two kids, become a stay-at-home-mom, and it's not too common to have conversations with a 5 and 2 1/2 year old about atonement theories or what really happens during communion.

I have read many books on my own, but it is rare to have the time, energy, and opportunity to discuss the ideas in those books.  Yet, I still love to learn.  Church sermons often just do not cut it, and often, when background information is given, I simply nod my head in agreement because I know the information is correct.  Sermons are tricky; some are more academic (which I love) and some are more application-oriented (which I am ok with as long as it's not 'this is what you specifically have to do'; I'd rather try to figure it out myself how to apply it).

All of this is to say that I wonder what is the "so what?" of academia, and what is the bridge between the philosophical and the practical?

The philosophical is necessary to help us to learn to love God with our minds, but we cannot love God only with our minds.  Likewise, the practical application of sermons is helpful in order to show us how to love God with our hearts, but we should not love God only with our hearts.

We need philosophers and theologians just as we need people to be able to give practical teaching, and we need people in-between who can be a bridge between the two worlds.  I kind of feel as if I may be falling into place as that type of person, although I am not ever sure what it means nor what it will entail.

What are your thoughts?  Do you tend to be primarily in one of these categories over the other?  Do you have a hard time relating to the category you are not in?  In what ways have you seen the philosophical and the practical come together?


Caris Adel said...

You presented???? That is awesome. The title of it sounds fascinating. Any chance there are recordings of it somewhere?

"I have read many books on my own, but it is rare to have the time, energy, and opportunity to discuss the ideas in those books. Yet, I still love to learn. Church sermons often just do not cut it," - oh a bazillion times YES

I see myself in the middle of the two also, but my major lack is I don't have a college degree, let alone seminary, so I sometimes feel like, who am I to be reading this or thinking about this or talking about it. And then of course I rarely engage on theological blogs because I feel very under-educated when talking about that kind of stuff, so I just lurk and learn.

I would love to have people in real life to talk about some of that stuff with though. I love thinking about and analyzing all of that stuff.

Kelly J Youngblood said...

I don't think there are any recordings of any of the sessions. I have broken mine (Fashion & Christian Identity) up into six parts and will be posting them on my blog but I am still deciding how to schedule them. I did just find out that there is a possibility that all of the "papers" presented may be compiled into a publication so if that happens I'll try to remember to let you know.

I do have a BA, but completed nothing further (I did a few seminary classes but quit), and I feel that it is limiting at times so I know how you feel. On the more theological blogs I also just lurk and learn!

The two nights of the conference I went out with people from the conference and had conversations with them was so great; it was like some kind of geeky theological high ;)