PeaceBang wrote an indignant and largely correct comment to reply to an earlier comment in Philocrites’s posting, “A religion still seeking definition” (which itself pointed to something I wrote, thus coming full circle.)
In a nutshell, she says if you want ministers trained for advanced theological reflection and production, the common fellowship is going to have to pony up the funds to make this happen. Not to be a cynic, we know that’s not going to happen for any number of reasons including the petty jealousies of who get the funds and the ever present appeal of sexier projects.
But the problem, I believe, is much deeper. After all, I already got a pretty good theological education; why get another degree when the proof of theological reflection is in the doing? The problem is in the parish, with its various demands — some fair and others foul — that have little or nothing to do with deeper thought. One particular Christmas Day — grr — memory I have is slopping out the snowy slush from a backed up drain in a former pastorate.
While I’m not making great fancies of mental flight on this blog, the irony is that I read deeper works, pray more, and write as much as ever as when I was in the parish. That congregational polity provides few options for scholars to do their thing (and most of those are in the seminaries, which are hurting) is more fundamental a problem to a very scholarly ministry than what increased funding can fix.