Seeking God’s Wisdom in Strange Places

The author guidelines for Scholar’s Compass posts advise beginning with “a quotation from Scripture or a Christian writer”. The first quotation above is neither. It is an extract from the Instruction of Amenemope (variously named Amenophis, Amenemopet, or Amen-em-apt), an ancient Egyptian work of uncertain date giving advice of a practical and ethical kind from a father to a son. Read more…

Gates and “Keys” (Scholar’s Compass)

Most days, on my way to the library, I have to pick my way through a narrow passageway between Senate House (the ceremonial headquarters of Cambridge University where degrees are conferred) and Gonville and Caius College, dodging speeding cyclists, tourists stopping to take photos, and long crocodiles of schoolchildren. Read more…

Wisdom: Cosmic, Practical and Playful (Scholar’s Compass)

In the first post in this series, I introduced the mysterious figure of Lady Wisdom, a key character in the nine chapters that introduce the book of Proverbs. This figure, gendered as female, stands in the streets and calls the passers-by to feast at her house, eating her bread, drinking her wine, and learning from her to “walk in the way of insight” (Proverbs 9:1-6). Read more…

Navigating the Rapids, Part 3 (Scholar’s Compass)

Of course there have been other “tragedies” in my life since the one described in the first entry of this series. Through a more recent trial, God convicted me of the need for accountability in my life, something I’ve avoided in the past because of pride and independence. I thought, “I’m not doing anything wrong and I don’t want people in my business.”Read more…

Pilgrimage: Life of a Pilgrim on Campus (Scholar’s Compass)

As we near the end of this series of devotions on pilgrimage, let’s return to where we began, on that highway to Jerusalem in Psalm 84. On that highway travelers have their hearts set on arriving in Jerusalem and worshipping in God’s holy temple. With their focus set on this story, the path they walk becomes one of refreshing springs even in the desert. When we encounter Paul in Athens, he is also following a story, a story that begins on a road to Damascus. Read more…

On Submitting Academic Work (Scholar’s Compass)

I have a love-hate relationship with deadlines. I am a procrastinator. I’m sure many of you can relate. I don’t procrastinate because I’m lazy or because I don’t want to work hard. It’s a crutch directly related to perfectionism. My work will never be as good in reality as it remains in my head. So I avoid the inevitable disappointment that comes when the writing exists.Read more…

Pilgrimage: Communitas in the Academy (Scholar’s Compass)

As we muddle our way through liminal spaces on the path to a sacred center, especially with others who also see themselves on pilgrimage, not only do we change, but so do our relationships. A unique community arises that focuses on reaching that goal more than remaining within the usual boundaries and edges of social interactions. The lure of such a community often draws people to the academy.Read more…

Grading as a Spiritual Practice (Scholar’s Compass)

It’s that time of year again: grading time. I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying “I teach for free, but I get paid to grade.” You may be procrastinating right now, avoiding those last 27 papers you have to grade. Maybe you’re enjoying the clever memes posted by colleagues about student complaints, entertaining typos, or plagiarism. . . .Read more…

Pilgrimage: Liminality in the Academy (Scholar’s Compass)

On a journey to a sacred center, pilgrims often leave behind known and familiar lives to step into an unfamiliar time and place. Even if they have a good image of their destination, they cannot predict what will occur along the way. In this respect, pilgrimage is essentially a time of liminality.Read more…

Navigating Justice: Followup to Defender of the Accused (Scholar’s Compass)

Drawing on her experience as lecturer and head of the Mission department at West Africa Theological Seminary in Lagos, Nigeria, Chinyere Priest contributed to our Lent series with a reflection on pursuing justice for those falsely accused of witchcraft within Nigerian society. . . . Here she provides more detail on the theological grounding of her post. Read more…

Giving Thanks: A Christian Approach to Vocation (Scholar’s Compass)

The man standing at the podium swipes his hair back again and continues with is presentation. He has a new theory, challenging the one that has become the status quo, which has staved off competing explanations for decades. He drops numerous names and somehow in the mix mentions the deficiencies of his father. I begin to suspect that this proud, brilliant, and yet surprisingly insecure scholar is no longer filling just a lacunae in the field but a hole in his heart.Read more…

Pilgrimage: Sacred Center of the Academy (Scholar’s Compass)

Towards what story are you traveling? That’s the big question of any pilgrimage. When going to Jerusalem or Santiago de Compostela the story seems clear. Pilgrims long to walk in the footsteps of Jesus or stand at the tomb of St. James, following the paths that millions have taken before to come closer to God. For centuries these and many other pilgrimage centers have held the promise of miracles because heaven and earth have met there before – the transcendent God became immanent. However, as Paul reminded the Ephesians it is not necessary to travel to a specific location for the transcendent to become immanent. Read more…

How Can the Church Care for Academics? (Scholar’s Compass)

On Tuesday I wrote about how academics can support the church. Today I’d like to spend a little time reflecting on how the church can care for believers whose vocation is to study, research, and teach. Academics are part of Christ’s body, with a role to play, even as they celebrate the roles of others with very different vocations. Read more…

Serving the Church through Scholarly Ambition (Scholar’s Compass)

Today I’m thinking about how academics can use their gifts to serve the church, encouraged by Bruce Huber’s essay in Faithful is Successful. As Huber wrestles with the thorny question of ambition, one of his conclusions is that ambition can be pursued rightly in the context of service to the body of Christ. This has me thinking about the many faithful scholars I know through ESN and elsewhere. I thought I’d make a partial list of some ways I see the fruit of faithful scholarly ambitions supporting the church, universal or local.Read more…