“Do not be afraid”, the Angels, and well more importantly, Jesus, proclaim over and over. However, I am afraid; I’m afraid of reading too slow, of taking too much time on notes, and writing with an academic voice. I wonder how I have made it this far academically with so many weaknesses. The truth is I didn’t enter into the Doctorate program with an academic mindset. This choice was tethered to a hunger to grow in my abilities to think theologically, because in the past twenty years of ministry I have recognized a regression. I have missed the collegial dialogue that pushes me to think broader and deeper. But the first year of this program revealed my naivete of what would be expected of me as a critical thinker and academic writer. Our weeks readings illuminated my fears like a sole spotlight on a dark theatre stage.
Despite the Goliath sized fears I have I also am tenaciously holding onto the bigger goal of developing more confidence in my reading, writing and thinking. Adler’s book has provided some hand holds/foot holes to begin climbing the reading mountain with purpose. He writes, “Whether you mange to keep awake or fall asleep depends in large part on your goal of reading.” When I read this I connected it to what I have been preaching a lot about lately…what is our goal in our relationship with God? Do we have a goal of deepening our connection with God? I have had a resistant spirit to reading academically. My goal needs to permeate my mindset of reading. Just like I do not want to fall asleep in my relationship with God I must not be so dismissive to what is offered in reading. It will require more thoughtfulness and intention on my part. I surprised myself when I sat with Paul and Elder to hear their offerings in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking. They wrote about Three Types of Character, and my first thought was, “WOW, this is definitely an issue today. It’s clear these characters are in play today for it seems these types of thinking exacerbates the anxiety state that Freidman talks about.” Excitement began. Excitement because I was able to utilize lessons from Adler and put A Failure of Nerve in conversation with the Miniature Guide!
I will attempt to not be afraid…or at least not completely afraid. According to Paul and Elder, I am a “beginner thinker” but I am hungry to grow, not only in my theological process but in my critical thinking. And I am now more aware of the importance of reading to curate that space. Writing academically may be more of a challenge, but I am hoping for grace. The Goliath is still big but I feel I have several good stones in my bag. I hope the stones will help me read faster with purpose, to approach note taking with organization, to practice critical thinking with deftness and fairmindedness, and find my own voice in academic writing