Thursday, October 19, 2006

prolegomena, or, The Question,

Or, "Good card players! But mind you, I wouldn't give them the time of day!"

It used to be that people used to ask me, "What are you going to do with that?" when I told them I studied theology. I used to tell them, "Have babies with it." I enjoyed the irony that went straight over people's heads when I said it. This left me amused, and them undisturbed, which worked for everybody. It annoyed Brent, though, since no one ever got that I was being facetious. And eventually I stopped. But that doesn't happen so much anymore. Nowadays The Question has become, "why are you still Church of Christ?"

I've blogged about this before, done the tag thing, and so on. But I'm never really satisfied with anything that I've written on it. Nothing ever seems to really get at the heart of why I remain where I am, despite, well, you know, not being given the time of day. So to speak. (Name that quote? Anybody? Anybody not related to me, I mean?)

It hit me forcefully this week (again, I blog under the influence of TH 222 and a bit of sleep deprivation; Clare's temporarily abandoned her habit of sleeping through the night) that part of a theologian's responsibility--before they start theologizing--is choosing to whom and for whom they speak. Where to locate themselves. Am I speaking to the church? The academy? In the public square? What issues to address? Whose issues to address. This matter of prolegomena is prior even to considerations of method, the prolegomena that gets discussed in the classroom.

Some of this is determined for you. But it is also, I'm convinced, a matter of careful, deliberate and responsible choosing. Who do I speak to. Who do I speak for. This should not be a casual decision, or a ceding to the inevitable. There's nothing inevitable about it. Sure, I'm a white middle-class chick from Tennessee. But that doesn't lock me into anything.

So, why am I still Church of Christ? Because I choose to be. Because these are the people I choose to speak to. And, in some sense, these are the people I choose to speak for: that is, the people in our short denominational history and in our churches who have been left out and turned aside, who have had to look in from the outside and look on in silence, who have assumed this is how it's supposed to be, or who have chafed under the knowledge that it isn't, for years.

You're responsible for choosing where to be, and for when and to whom you speak, as well as for what you say.


Anonymous said...

As someone who has asked you (and Brent, formerly) The Question more than once, it's strikes me that your reasons for staying and my own reasons for staying away are really quite similar.

As for pursuing a doctorate in order to have babies, I'm hoping that being a stay-at-home dad is a good enough reason to study the sociology of religion.

JTB said...

I like to think that, after all, I did make good on that promise in some sense after all.