21 February 2012
Don't have a degree? Don't worry about it.
Doubtless you, like I, know a whole lot of people who have spent or are spending a whole lot of time in school. And maybe you, like I, find this depressing, bewildering, and/or intimidating depending on the school or the person. But I am doing my best to get over it, and I urge you to do the same.
Schools of all kinds are businesses, and it's much better business practice to broaden rather than limit your clientele. With the exception of a few very prestigious places, most schools need lots of paying students. The best way to get paying students is to make it easier to go to school: have classes at odd hours, eliminate requirements of locality, help students get money from places other than the school, appeal to popular interests, generate perceived needs for new areas of "study," and make sure academic requirements aren't too hard.
So here is what it necessarily means that a person has some degree: she had the time and money to get it. It does not mean that she is smarter or harder working than someone who doesn't have that degree or its equivalent.
All disciplines uncharacterized by empirical, quantitative skills and requirements have become so inundated with mumbo-jumbo that it is very common for inarticulate persons with little analytical ability and a basic lack of knowledge to fulfill the requirements for a degree. Inarticulate and unknowledgeable people even advance to the highest levels of these disciplines. A guy who can fix a car gave his brain more of a workout acquiring that expertise than someone who majored in communications. The diploma is not always to the smart, nor yet favour to men of skill. The diploma is at the bottom of a box in my attic (I think). If you don't have one, I admire you for seeing through the vanity that is the academy. I was too stupid. A fool and her time and money are soon parted.
Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. The academy can look very appealing, but its main reward is the esteem of men. And what's that worth?
And about that classmate of your husband who's back at the seminary (or wherever) for graduate work: time and money. Time and money. That's all it [necessarily] means. Every non-academiologist husband deserves a big old thanks today and every day for not asking his family to sacrifice any more, even though he could, even though he IS smart enough. If the clergy shortage is a tall tale, an academiologist shortage is downright phantasmagorical. Most parishes can't afford to give a raise for an advanced degree anyway.
(I am indebted to my reverend brother for the apt term "academiology".)