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Where’s the hole?

It seems to me that most of us — and by “us” I mean those of us who tend to read and write theology blogs — have at least one big hole in our education that we tend to regret and be somewhat annoyed about. For my part its definitely the paucity of my languages. I have a good working knowledge of Hebrew, despite being out of practice and some Greek, but as far as academic languages go that’s it. No German, no Latin, no French. And it bums me out.

Well, that’s the hole I think I have in my academic theological cred. What’s yours?


  1. Kampen wrote:

    I have a habit of picking things up somewhere in the middle. For example, I began taking philosophy courses last year and continue to take them. I confess, however, that I have not taken any Intro. or History of Philosophy courses (which are required for my minor) and am thereby left in a kind of historical poverty within current discussions. At the same time, I have no desire to take a first year University class with a bunch of first year University students.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 1:57 am | Permalink
  2. Nathan wrote:

    Intro. to Philosophy is almost always a throw-away course. History of Philosophy is, however, absolutely necessary. I’m surprised anyone even bothers with the disciple without understand the historical trajectory of the arguments. But that’s an aside.

    I wish I had studied geography, architecture and economics–and of course I mean the theoretical and critical elements of each, as I have no interest in being useful.

    I’m glad DePaul’s philosophy program was, in a large way, interdisciplinary, though.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 2:56 am | Permalink
  3. Adam Kotsko wrote:

    My biggest gap is Protestant Scholasticism.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 6:01 am | Permalink
  4. Andy wrote:

    German’s my big sin, although i get by via adjacent languages at a pinch. Otherwise I think it’s gotta be Derrida, Barth and Hegel (I know: who’s left?).

    Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 6:56 am | Permalink
  5. Auto shop. I can’t fix a car.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 8:13 am | Permalink
  6. K. Patrick wrote:

    After the notification that there would be a week of posts devoted to the body, am I the only one who got really nervous to see a post titled “Where’s the Hole?” ?!

    But anyway, as a student of Catholic theology, my gap is in Aquinas. I’ve only studied the Angelic Doctor in a piece-meal way. A bit on natural law in one class, a bit on analogy and language in another class, etc. I suppose that Catholic theology is now in a “post-Thomist” state (by this I mean that Thomism is no longer the only game in town). But it seems to me that it’s still quite important to acquaint oneself with the key ideas and terminology of Aquinas.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 9:19 am | Permalink
  7. I wish I had a better understanding of Hegel!

    Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 9:45 am | Permalink
  8. mike W wrote:

    nowhere near enough time in patristics.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 11:13 am | Permalink
  9. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Too many holes to count.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 11:58 am | Permalink
  10. roger flyer wrote:

    Never too late to fill in the holes, says Flyer the Elder.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink
  11. adhunt wrote:

    I’m just starting, so tell me what holes to avoid! I’ll probably spend less time on political theology than I should really like to.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Permalink
  12. roger flyer wrote:

    Here’s where to go to fill some holes:
    Family systems theory, church history (read it over and over), Christian mystics, prayer and confession, journaling, read poets.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Permalink
  13. roger flyer wrote:

    Oh…wait no academic cred for these things…? hmmmmm…

    Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Permalink
  14. Chinese might be handy in the future. Plus, I am an artist and have never taken an art class. I think I could benefit from some systematic criticism. Oh, and Yiddish. And really a M.D. would be great so I could operate on myself and tell the insurance companies to go f&%ck themselves (in Yiddish or Chinese!). obliged

    Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink
  15. rasselas wrote:

    Mixed Martial Arts, of course!

    Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Permalink
  16. Auggie Webster wrote:


    Not missing much. I’ve had at least two semesters of Spanish, French, German, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and . . drum roll . . . Sanskrit! But I couldn’t read a menu in any of ‘em. My best pick up line is “Hey baby, I’m functionally illiterate in seven languages.”

    My biggest hole? Couldn’t we all use a little more Troeltsch? But seriously, Early Church stuff.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Permalink
  17. Patrik wrote:

    The reformation.

    Monday, February 15, 2010 at 7:12 am | Permalink
  18. myles wrote:


    Monday, February 15, 2010 at 7:44 am | Permalink
  19. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Probably some academic cred for at least “church history,” I would think.

    Monday, February 15, 2010 at 8:10 am | Permalink
  20. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    But, now that I think of it, I’d probably say Protestant Scholasticism. :)

    Monday, February 15, 2010 at 8:11 am | Permalink
  21. Daniel wrote:

    No one understands Hegel. Have you tried reading that prose?

    Monday, February 15, 2010 at 8:37 am | Permalink
  22. I’m confident my knowledge of German, French, Latin, etc. will come, along with my general apprehension of different schools of philosophy, different periods of cultural history, theologians, etc.

    What kills me is that an institution is willing to confer upon me the title “Master of Divinity” with my knowledge of Scripture being what it is. As much as I know about the primary source of theology, I’m embarrassed that I don’t know it better.

    So many of those Muslims have their doggone Korans memorized, while the majority of theologians don’t even have a single book of the Bible memorized (given, the Koran’s smaller, and many of them don’t understand the Arabic they can recite, but I digress…)

    Monday, February 15, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Permalink
  23. CCW wrote:

    I lecture on Protestant scholasticism, so I’m out on that one. Probably Spanish and the Joachimist tradition are what I am really wishing I had learned more about.

    Monday, February 15, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Permalink
  24. WenatcheeTheHatchet wrote:

    My hole is never getting academic theological cred at all. I was interested in seminary but the whole living in the real world and needing a job trumped all those considerations.

    Monday, February 15, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Permalink
  25. For the record, I had a great Intro to Philosophy class that I took on a whim one summer at the University of Alaska. Involved close readings of Socrates (via Plato), Descartes, and J.S. Mill. It wasn’t particularly challenging, but full of good info, and a lot of fun.

    Monday, February 15, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Permalink
  26. Steven D wrote:

    Tyler W,

    You are not alone in the awe/nervousness in a school being willing to confer you a degree with a limited knowledge of scripture. I often feel that way as well.

    Monday, February 15, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Permalink
  27. Richard H wrote:

    I spend most of my time trying to lead an old, small town church. Too much of what I’ve learned over the years (Greek, Hebrew, German, Latin – enough French to pass my qualifying exam; theology, philosophy, history) feels like it’s gone down the hole (some hole somewhere). Too many other things have crowded those things out. Back when I was doing my doctoral work, my standard answer when asked how things were going was, “My ignorance grows daily.” I know WAY less now than I did then.

    Monday, February 15, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
  28. Nathan wrote:

    You know, I’m just bitter. That’s it.

    And it kind of warms my heart to hear about someone having fun with philosophy. It is fun!

    Monday, February 15, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Permalink
  29. Shawn L wrote:

    Greek: Koine, Byzantine, Modern, etc., so I can read the Fathers, and the liturgical materials of the Church. Slavonic and Russian for the same reasons.

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Permalink
  30. roger flyer wrote:

    The older you get, the way less you know. To admit it, aye, ther’s the rub.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 6:16 am | Permalink
  31. And for mystics. And if I knew what “family systems theory” was probably that too.

    What’s with the “I’m but a simple caveman” routine here?

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 7:50 am | Permalink
  32. Indigenous philosophy.

    Really, there’s tons of holes. When you realize how many different subjects can be studied in a manner that relates to your main field you just gotta realize you’re probably not gonna even plug half them holes. I suppose this is why people eventually get married. Might as well plug one hole.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 7:52 am | Permalink
  33. Hill wrote:

    He’ll be here all night, folks!

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 9:37 am | Permalink
  34. Olov wrote:

    I don’t know scripture!

    Friday, February 26, 2010 at 6:50 am | Permalink

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