Vocation

  • The professor's freedom

    At first I was somewhat unhappy with the system—tenure, for all its faults, sounds awfully nice—but I've grown more fond of it over the past year. For someone like me, who publishes at a somewhat frenetic pace, but never (so far) in academic journals, it is conducive to the sort of life I lead. I teach writing, and will be teaching cultural criticism and intellectual history next year, and while there are certainly scholarly venues for those who work in these areas, I'm still a better practitioner than scholar. Not being tenured means I (and my colleagues) are encouraged to publish as much or more in the popular press as in scholarly, peer reviewed work. And as a bonus, magazines tend to pay: nothing to scoff at when you're living in New York City on an entry-level professor's salary.

    I've just signed a two-year contract for my full-time position on the faculty at The King's College, where all of our professors are non-tenured. There is, of course, an implicit assumption that—barring professional misconduct, major academic offering chang...

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  • Hard work and flowering

    Bridget DePape's now (in)famous hissy fit in the upper chambers of our country's parliament did everything that such acts normally do: it got lots of media coverage, made her into a household name (at least among the geeks who follow politics), and landed her the admiration of that scion of thoughtful and incisive cultural criticism, Michael Moore.

    Well, at least it got her a new job.

    Bridget DePape's now (in)famous hissy fit in the upper chambers of our country's parliament did everything that such acts normally do: it got lots of media coverage, made her into a household name (at least among ...

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  • Hope comes to work

    If the only measure were this blog, it would seem the Cardus team has been in a collective mood of pessimism of late. One might even conclude that we are in a collective funk about the future of our own business.

    Working as they do for a think tank, Cardus staffers are paid to observe and critically reflect on the goings-on in the world around them. We offer commentary and propose answers to the questions that ei...

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  • Intern Nation

    It's the season of interns, and with it the debasing hazing rituals (Cardus' is doing the President's expense reports). Those undergrads who haven't retreated to dignified manual labour to pay tuition bills for the summer, are working to pad their résumé and bolster their experience with now-legion internship opportunities.

     

    It's the seas...

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  • Humility and the Public Intellectual

        The very term "public intellectual" loudly proclaims a proclivity for pride and arrogance. Knowing something that you believe others do not know is fertile soil for a sordid array of grandiose delusions. The perennial critic is keenly tuned to every variance of error in current plans, systems and people.

    Reposted from the Cardus After Hours blog (RIP).

      ...

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  • A liberal arts trade school?

    One of the most important resources that a garden makes available for use, is the gardener's own body. A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support. It is a way of rejoining the human race.   

    I hate to begin a blog post with a quote from Wendell Berry—lest I disturb the fragile peace at the Cardus dinner table—but I'm going to do it anyway. Berry offers this nugget:

    One of the mos...

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  • How to Change the World

    1. Notice what you care about 2. Get started 3. Learn as you go along 4. Stay together "Simple, but not easy," she warned us.

     recently learned that there are four simple steps to change the world:

    1. Notice what you care about 2. Get started 3. Learn as you go along 4. Stay together

    In November I joined some 460 people on th...

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  • A Good Word for Stanley

    Jesus directs our attention to the kingdom, but the early followers rightly recognized that to see what the kingdom entailed they must attend to his life, death, and resurrection, for his life reveals to us how God would be sovereign. [PK 83]

    With an implied smile, my feminist clergy wife inscribed "You know this a gift of love" as she gave me Stanley Hauerwas' Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir...

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  • Ceasing to woolgather

    "I have to know what my thing is and talk about it in very clever ways and be different than everybody else who does my thing or else I will starve /never matter / and be alone for the rest of my life, shut out from the brightness and goodness of life.”

    The other day author Nina Killham typed in the words "fear and writing." It was one of those days and among her findings was a post by blogger Jennifer Louden who nails a dai...

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  • Falling in Love (with Institutions)

    Paul Mills, on capital markets and a breathtaking Biblical critique of modern interest practice Jonathan Wellum, on debt ridden overconsumption and the hypocrisy of academia's moral assault on the modern corporation< Father Raymond DeSouza and lots of JP2, "by virtue of being a person a person is owed a certain something" Steve Long, toward a Christological economics Ray Pennings and Emile VanVelsen on "whereto for international labour?" Iain Provan and Mark Polet, loving all creation and—my favourite question—would you shoot a bear or a human being? (the answer was the bear, btw) Paul Oslington and Gideon Strauss, a trade talk that turned into a "big government" throw down Because this piece is intended as a polemic, and in order to get something on the radar screens of Christian postmoderns, let me get my central beef off my chest right away: many Christians who have been understandably, and often rightly, drawn to postmodern ways of thinking (there may be one or two among the readership of TOJ—and I'd welcome their responses) need to learn to love institutions again, and they won't get very far in transforming society unless they do.

    Freshly back from God and the Global Economy, the mind is abuzz with economics, politics and ways of integral living. A few takeaways:

    Paul Mills, on capital markets and a breat...

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  • Eucharist and Democracy

    Throughout the study I could not separate Miles' feeding the hungry as a natural Christian response to the Eucharist from thinking about what Eucharist and such feeding mean for living a calling in public service. Living out of the biblical stories and Christian practices of Eucharist and baptism can say something about how Christians practice public life.

    During this past season of Lent I found myself in an engaging group study of Sara Miles' ...

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  • Ten rules for writing

    "Inspired by the British paperback publication of Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing, the Guardian newspaper asked a selection of fiction writers for their rules, and got a surprisingly wide range of responses." Roddy Doyle: Do keep a thesaurus, but in the shed at the back of the garden or behind the fridge, somewhere that demands travel or effort. Chances are the words that come into your head will do fine, e.g. "horse," "ran," "said." Richard Ford: Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being a writer is a good idea. Neil Gaiman: Finish what you're writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it. Jonathan Franzen: It's doubtful that anyone with an Internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction. A.L. Kennedy: Write. No amount of self-inflicted misery, altered states, black pull-overs or being publicly obnoxious will ever add up to your being a writer. Writers write. On you go. Philip Pullman: My main rule is to say no to things like this, which tempt me away from my proper work. Margaret Atwood: Prayer might work.

     

    As the ...

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  • On Jubilee

    I'm curious to see what other Cardus staffers took away from our experience—besides our many shared conversations late at night. As I mention at the Jubilee blog today, the image of John Perkins preaching from the very edge of the stage, beckoning to us as students, will sit with me for a long time.

     

    Last week at this time, quite ...

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  • The Writing (Student's) Life

    It's full of beautifully juicy details (Dillard is nothing, apparently, like I imagined her), even for someone who's never heard of either writer. Certain passages I found completely delightful:

    If you read seriously at all, you know that Annie Dillard is one of our greatest contemporary authors. One of her students, Alexander Chee, wrote a piece for The Morning News on studying with her at Wesleyan University twenty years ago.

    It's f...

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  • "The Real World"

        First, a full bouquet of condescension is nearly always present when it is used. College and university students hear it a lot, being reminded of how naive they are and how much tougher things will be in the real world when they get out there. I remember hearing it often as an undergrad and it was as though the lack of sleep, endless reading, difficult exams and papers, lack of finances, loneliness from being away from home, crushing basketball practices and a hundred other things were somehow not real.

     

     

     

    The way that...

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