Balancing Public and Academic Theology

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

I received a call the other day, inviting me to participate in a panel on public theology in March. I said I would think about it. There was a time, not too long ago, when I would have said a resounding “Yes!” to that opportunity. But the past few months made me keenly aware of my tendency to overcommit. I still have several projects on my plate before I can really move on to other things. I have an essay on Bulgakov and Edwards, a review of McGuckin, possibly a proposal for the Sophia conference, and two courses to design. I am committed to my life as an academic theologian and a public theologian. Blogging reminds me who I am writing for. Essays help keep my work from getting “fluffy.” The trick is balancing my two roles. Here is my plan.

    1. Decide what is most important. For me that is my book proposal. I really want to get that out before the end of the year.

    2. Orient other projects toward your priority. The review of McGuckin will help me with my book. The same is not true of the essay on Bulgakov and Edwards, but I think some of that is okay.

    3. Keep professionalizing. I do eventually want to work in the academy. So I need to keep my vitae fresh. It does not reflect well on me if there is a big gap in my timeline while I am writing the book. Obviously, I should try to parlay some book research into essays, but when people invite me to submit essays, I should take up at least some of those opportunities.

    4. Earn an income. I cannot write if I do not eat. That is why I am taking on some teaching responsibilities next Spring. Again, I will probably gear one course toward my book proposal (it will be on the development of political thought in the church). I have taught the other course before, but I have to adapt it to a new audience. I am teaching fifth and sixth graders. Yep…

But I feel like I am leaving something out. I am certainly not the only person who wears many hats. How do you balance your many rolls and still stay sane?

3 thoughts on “Balancing Public and Academic Theology”

  1. I am currently in an incredibly busy part of my life. As a sort of a perfectionist, balancing many tasks has really come down to me deciding, every week, which things I can allow myself to do poorly. That “method” may not work for everyone, but I have an extremely hard time allowing myself to do things not at full capacity, so it has been a great release for me to give myself “permission” to find the things that are least important and just say, “I simply can’t do X well this week. Maybe next week.” And try my best to be okay with that.


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