Saturday, November 19, 2011

On information and application

In starting to write a new blog post today, I found this one I wrote a few months ago and forgot to post.  So I'll post it now  :)  Better late than never!

A friend of mine made a comparison today that I thought was quite apt. He was visiting another university to look into their religious studies program, but found that there wasn't much being done to implement what was being studied. He likened it to the difference between studying physics and engineering. Physicists learn a lot about how the universe works, but for the most part the focus is on knowing theory. Engineers on the other hand learn how to apply the principles they learn to make something that works. They may not understand all the theory, but that doesn't stop them from attempting to build something useful. My friend made the comparison with regard to Islam, but I see this being just as prevalent within Christianity. We have too many scholars, and not enough do-ers. So many people are eager to debate theology, but the practical application of that in their lives is mysteriously absent.

Many people think that since I've been in school for so long that I like learning things just for the sake of learning things. But that's actually not true. I like learning things that are applicable and relevant to my life. Otherwise, I just get bored. For instance, if you had told me a few years ago to learn about chemical surface modifications of polydimethylsiloxane, I would have fallen asleep after the first sentence. But once I started research, I had a problem to solve and suddenly that information was relevant to me, and I started reading up on it in my spare time. For the information I couldn't find, I ordered some products and conducted some tests to see what would work.

Some people think that the solution to all their difficulties in Christian life is to learn more. If only the Pastor gave more insightful sermons. If only they read that bestselling new book. If only they go to seminary or Bible college. I submit to you that our problem isn't with knowing, it's with doing. We're a culture that's over-educated and under-experienced. Learning more theology isn't going to make you more loving towards that coworker who gets on your nerves. Studying Bible commentaries won't give you the courage to go volunteer with the homeless. Christianity is not a theoretical field, it is applied. Maybe it's time to stop trying to have everything figured out and be responsible for what we know. Once we're willing to act, it's easy for God to correct our misconceptions and adjust our direction. For those who aren't willing to act, no amount of information will ever be enough.

Now the irony of this is that right now it's only a blog post. Just another piece of information floating around on the web. So here is my challenge to you this week: take a piece of theory you know, even if you're not sure if it's 100% correct, and transform it into action. I guarantee that through experience you'll learn far more than studying could ever teach you.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thesis of DOOOOM!

Every so often, I need to stop in and make one of those "I'm still alive" posts, for everyone in blog land that might be wondering (or not wondering, as the case may be) what has happened to me.  The number of half-written blog posts in my drafts keeps increasing, and meanwhile my actual blogginess keep decreasing.  But I do have a very legitimate excuse at the moment!  That excuse happens to be a 40-pages-and-counting behemoth of text and figures known as the fearsome enemy of grad students everywhere: the thesis.  Ok, so it's not actually my enemy.  In fact, there are times when I'm downright chummy with the thing, but after spending the bulk of my days staring into a computer screen typing out words, I need to take my free time elsewhere.  Alas, that means away from you, my friends of the blogosphere, but be consoled by the fact that very soon I shall be graduated, and very soon I shall have all manner of wonderful things to share with you!  And speaking of wonderful things to share, here's a picture I snapped on my street this week (plus a bonus contrast-enhanced version that I'm using as my desktop background right now, so feel free to snag that if you like it).  I love rainbows so much!  I've been sharing this pic with everyone, because some things are meant to be shared  :)