*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 31st of August 2022. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org; I’m Dan van Voorhis.
As I mentioned yesterday, we are doing a full week of mailbag questions- some of these emails I get have more personal questions that, If I can respond, I will.
Melissa wrote from Wilmington, North Carolina- you know Wilmington, right? On the coast between ominous sounding Cape Lookout and Cape Fear.
Why is it called Cape Fear? Apparently, it was named by members of the lost colony of Roanoke (who had reason to be scared). Prior to that, it and the river were called the Jordan. Fun fact: Michael Jordan would go to school in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he would be cut by the coach of Laney High Schools basketball coach.
From Melissa: she (explains her college situation and wonders about her oldest son)- what advice would you give to someone looking to go into church work- church history or something like that? Maybe a better question: what advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
Yikes! Ok- I don’t love giving out advice. At least specific advice. I used to have college students in my office all the time asking questions about their lives- and I often thought, “I just got lucky- I can’t really say ‘hope you get lucky too.” Or- “well, I went to a local college by accident, did ok, and went to grad school. I got my Ph.D. and then was hired by my Alma Mater, where I was a prof, dept chair, and assistant dean, and then I started making podcasts”.
As far as college goes: I can’t recommend anything except 1) community colleges are your friend, 2) get to know the admissions and counseling departments, 3) write to a prof or see if you can talk to a current student or recent graduate for information once you are there- if you can, get to know as many people in your field as you can- students and profs. Yes, this is “networking,” but it could be very useful later and one of the real benefits of going to college.
But- in the discipline (It’s history for me- but this transfers)
Start with broad questions instead of particular cases, hunches, or hobby horses. Going to college is not just about confirming what you think you already know.
Ask, "Who do you think your work/career will ultimately be serving?”- the question we asked at my old college was “CUI BONO?” Or “who stands to benefit?”
This is connected to, and this is mainly for, any kind of church work to whom you are connected to. Is it a church body? A denomination or ministry? These can be very important structures for your future employment- you’re going to need some kind of institutional support. Maybe ask, “what kinds of institutions support people who do what I want to do?”
And while I suppose this is important for anyone- I am thinking of myself as a Christian, doing Church history- “how do I keep myself from being the story?” “Who is this helping?” And “how do I keep myself from tearing other people down?”
I’d add to check your ego and completive nature- someone else doing well doesn’t mean you can’t do well, too!
Academically my advice has stayed pretty standard over the past decade: read more. Read from broad sources (you don’t have to agree with everyone, but you should know what is being said). Learn to scan books and articles, build habits that help you read (I’m currently doing 100 pages a day in the community pool) and figure out the best way to take notes and catalog what you’re reading.
Also- especially for budding historians: learn another language! There are still bunches of things in Swedish and Japanese and Urdu, and Hindi that are not in English, and this is a fast way to carve out a niche for yourself.
Ok- I’ve advised out Melissa. Thanks for your email and question, and hopefully, I gave you and others something to think about.
The Last Word for today comes from the lectionary for today from Jeremiah 3:
15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding. 16 In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land,” declares the Lord, “people will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. 17 At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 31st of August 2022, brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man whose son has just headed off to a Concordia- Go Bulldogs- He is Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man whose alma mater has no football team but whose Father-in-Law is a Trojan- so Fight On, and here come the NIL’s! I’m Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.