(David wrote these thoughts after finishing his Ph.D. in Theology keeping all those hours of study in perspective. These words were written when our kids were ages 1 to 11! No wonder I love this man! --AO)
Our world needs scholars, but scholars must live a life of particular discipline. A scholar’s life demands long hours of uninterrupted research. Loneliness often results from the time dedicated to library and office. Friendships are limited to those that will enhance the life of the mind. Scholars find their friends in the pages of Homer, Plato, and Augustine. Worth and prestige are intimately connected to publication in scholarly journals and books written for consumption to a select group of like-minded readers.
I am not a scholar. Though much of my training leads me toward scholarly endeavors, and many of my acquaintances are top-shelf scholastics, I am not. Perhaps I do not possess the mental acumen for such a life, but this is not the primary cause of my realization. I read as much as I possibly can, but my life is different from that of a scholar.
When I read, my time is likely to be shredded by demands for a sippee cup of milk, a change of diaper, or to observe the most recently perfected stunt. A sleepy two-year old, crawling into my lap instead of her bed will, inevitably interrupt moments of mental debate with the works of Bertrand Russell. It is likely that as I sit and write doctrinal essays someone will ask when I will finish so that the internet can be more adequately explored. My notebooks and papers, prepared for lectures or sermons may be adorned with scribbling, x’s and o’s, hearts, or other artwork common among the preschool set. Scholars do not tolerate such blasphemy upon the sacred ground of their study, but I am not a scholar, I am a father.
Indeed the world needs scholars, but it must look beyond my door, because I am busy tying shoes, zipping coats, changing diapers, and tickling unsuspecting members of my family. I doubt that the academic world is suffering an insurmountable gap due to my altered course. There are moments when the smell of old books, the clicking of the computer, and the hallowed loneliness of the study beckon. I rarely have trouble dismissing these overtures because the fulfillment granted by the academy is far too small to compare the kiss of a two-year-old. When asked, I would love to respond that I am indeed a scholar, but when the evidence is examined and the verdict given, I am but a father. -WDO, 2009
mom to five kiddos and wife to the only man who could put up with her; lover of God, the church, missions, and all things community and culture.
dad, husband, theologian, global leadership guy, professor, and author of countless words hidden in stacks of journals that sit in our bedroom whose wife is making him put his writings here for others to read. :-)!