You can write for the academic guild, publish your heavily footnoted monographs and get your tenure. But you can also write passionate theology in language that people understand. You can write theology without footnotes.
There’s not a lot that I agree on with Patheos blogger and author Tony Jones, but I have to give credit where it’s due on this one, for the tremendous impact he’s made on me by reminding me that no one’s heard of Paul Ricoeur.
As a PhD student in an English department, this is often a hard-won reminder. I spend most of my time around people who are either interested in what I’m doing or in competition with it, or getting mad at people who don’t. This includes my wife, among others.
I’ve never been quite sure what to do about that.
So, when you write for real people, disabuse yourself of everything that the academy has taught you about writing.
Also: start a blog.
In that case, this blog is my attempt to “disabuse myself of everything that the academy has taught me about writing.” This is my walk through the comprehensive exams and dissertation stages of my doctorate, making a concerted effort to write that process, for other people. This is my chance to come out of textual solipsism and rediscover what I want from my work: socially, culturally, theologically.I’ll try to keep up with it.
Oh, and one more thing: pace Jones, I’m not actually going to write “without footnotes.”
On the contrary: these are all my footnotes.