Being a travel writer sounds like good fun. Go to exciting places and meet interesting people. Find out all sorts of new customs and try out flavors of foods you’ve never even heard of before. Write about the exotic experiences to others, highlighting the good, maybe mentioning only a sliver of the negative.
It’s interesting that when we want to watch shows or read books about exciting destinations we tend to turn to expert travelers. It’s the residents who know more about a place. They’ve dwelled in its history, know the neighborhoods to visit and the neighborhoods to avoid. But, they know it so well, that it is easy for them to get bogged down in description. We want a quick overview, after all. What can we see in a day and where’s a good place for dinner.
Writing about theology has the same problem. There are a lot of tour guides out there. Offering a quick trip through various doctrines or topics. And there are a number of residents, who have lived a long time in the world of theology, providing an in-depth study of the history of a particular corner, but not really speaking a language most people can understand.
That’s the tension I’m feeling. Give too quick of an overview of the various models–the “cities”–of theological education and I risk oversimplification. Say too much and I get bogged down without ever getting to my main goal in these musings. It’s like being on a road trip and getting distracting by the sights along the way rather than getting to the destination.
But, to get somewhere you have to go through other places. My hope in not just describing the models but sharing a bit about my own story with them was intended to give some brief depth. I’ve spent time in most of these “cities” (except Geneva) and so I’ve gone beyond the superficial and know what each place is like in different seasons.
On a personal note, I’m using this blog as a way of sketching out ideas and exploring themes. Some have bemoaned blogs for their tendency to encourage unedited publishing. That’s certainly a danger. My writing can certainly use editing. Yet, blogs have an immediacy that makes them useful, hopefully even a conversational encouragement. Blogs aren’t a fully formed systematic theology. They’re much more like Table Talk, where the table can be as wide as the whole world.
I’m also trying to practice writing. One of my goals is to get back into a more fluid, even conversational, style. And that takes practice. For instance, one of my problems in writing, speaking, and teaching is that I spend too much time on prefaces before getting to my main point. This post originally was intended to be my discussion of the “cities” of Azusa and Skete. But then I wrote a preface that’s too long. Now the preface is its own post and doesn’t nearly as crowded.
I like places with less crowds. My writing should have less crowds too.