Under the Gun

Blogging, along with the rest of life, has been on hold recently as I feverishly work on a paper I have to deliver in Philadelphia this Friday. The Evangelical Theological Society, of which I am a card-carrying member, has its annual meeting in Valley Forge this year and I have to fly out of Memphis early Wednesday. Even at that, I’ll be late since the conference begins Wednesday morning.

I’ve been turning down plumbing calls for several days. I’ve been totally absent from the Internet forums for several weeks. Except for a couple of plumbing jobs today and seeing a guitar student tonight, I’ve been at this computer since 6:00 AM.

This is the price of scholarship. First you have to torture yourself by listening to papers until you become a Ph.D., then you have to write papers and read them out loud to people who have never done you any harm. They have to listen because it’s a part of being a scholar, and you have to listen while they read theirs.

If you don’t crawl around on the rim of this can with the other little caterpillars, you are scholar non grata and The System will make you clean sewers for a living instead of teaching college.

Writing scholarly papers is hard for me because my brain has turned to sewage over the past ten years. I received the Ph.D. degree (they paroled me for good behavior) in December of 1995. Since then I have taught college as an adjunct for a few years, learned to play the dulcimer and banjo a little, and successfully started a business and plumbed a restaurant and a few houses. My idea of reading a hard book is trying to decipher the Shelby County plumbing code.

Alas, I will take my stand this Friday in front of real scholars and follow the maxim that has served me so well for so long: “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull manure.” I hate doing anything poorly; but I don’t have the choice of not doing it at all if I ever want to break into academe, so I keep trying. Maybe next year’s paper will be better.

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