Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Meme: The Academy and the Poor

Dan asks the difficult question: when confronted with 'the Poor' of our day, how do you justify your own academic endeavours?

As I have said before, living in Finland, "the poor" tend to be arather abstract concept. Although the divide between those that have and those that don't has widened considerably in Finland during the last few decades, what goves for poverty here is still being privileged if want takes the global perspective.

But that does not really change things that much. So I would answer the question this way.

1. The Academy has not given me very much in terms of money, power or security. I'm really badly paid (mind you I'm not complaining), my wife works in a kindergarten and she has a lot more than I. Which is ok, because I love my job. People that have jobs that need big salaty as motivation are kind of sad. What I'm saying with this is that working in the academy has for me moved me closer to the "poor" of our community, in that I share with them the constant feeling that when my short term working contract ends (next month) I have no real idea how to pay the mortages on our house.

2. I would never ever ever accept to do academic work that I do not feel in the long run at least serves to somehow change this world a little. Be it by teaching future pastors to see the global implications of their future work, or by working on theology in a way that asks the questions about the way our world functions. I cannot honestly say that I know of a way that I could hope to do more good than in the way I hope to do inside, or one the margin of academia. For me, in my situation, the university is still a place where there is at least some space for thinking against the powers of the world. As long as that is true (and that space is shrinking all the time), I'll try to hang on.

I'm not sure if a meme on a subject like this can work (a bit easier to name your favourite book!), but do feel tagged if you like to.

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