O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?….
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet;
so Romeo, were he not called Romeo,
would retain that dear perfection which he owns
without that title. Romeo, doff thy name
and for that name, which is no part of thee,
take all myself.
–Romeo and Juliet
By any other name, “long term planning” is really just fantasizing, isn’t it? Very well, in the long term, I plan to have a large, rambling house in a wooded, sparsely settled area. We’ll have eleven children, of whom six will be girls and five will be boys. One of them will be a medical doctor, one a lawyer who works for a major religious organization, one a physicist, one an engineer, and one a theologian. The theologian, of course, will be the oldest. I myself will be the president of a conservative seminary, and Valerie will be head and founder of the nation’s largest midwife association. People will love us and greet us by name as we walk down the street.
Right. Did I mention I’m a direct descendant of Jonathan Edwards? Oh yeah. We Fr… uh, Edwardses have a long history of excellence. (The Frenches and Dobbses, by comparison, are famous for hardheadedness and hyperbole. I have none of these traits.)
Actually, it’s a little embarrassing how close my actual long-term hopes for the future might match the above. Valerie, of course, has no inclination to aspire for world renown. I on the other hand have long fought the good fight against megalomania. My continuing anonymity has been a great boon in the battle.
I would, however, like to teach. Like I’ve said before, I’m a thinky kind of guy. And one of the biggest frustrations I’ve had is how little there is in the way of charismatic theology. I think that’s a crying shame because, as a charismatic, I think the charismatic gifts are more than incidental to the way the Holy Spirit works. You can’t just sort of tack these things on. Nothing about God, honestly, is something that can be just ‘tacked on’, since God, while he has three persons, cannot be broken down into component parts. So a misunderstanding about the gifts of the Spirit can betray a misunderstanding about who God is. Not a little thing. Misunderstanding who Jesus is can lead to a person rejecting him as Lord. What results from misunderstanding who the Holy Spirit is?
At any rate, I’d like to teach theology. There’s a gap there that needs to be filled, and I’m the kind of person, I think, who can contribute a little toward filling it. Valerie has said she’d like her husband to be a theologian and teach at a college or seminary somewhere, and that’s approval plenty for me. Of course, this means more school, and furthermore, more complicated maneuvering. Not every seminary has a PhD program. Most are offering something called the DMin, which is just not the same thing. Doctor of Ministry programs are designed to give pastors more formal education in practical ministry (which is not in the same category as a regular philosophy doctor). Gordon Conwell only offers a DMin.
Furthermore, if I’m going to do this thing, I’m going to do it all the way. I’m going to be picky and discriminating in my selection of schools. I understand that, especially in the area of theology, there is a difference. For instance, Regent University has a PhD in Theology, focusing particularly on the work of the Holy Spirit, but they call it the PhD in “Renewal Theology.” I’m not sure exactly what they mean by that, but it brings to my mind too many memories from the late 90’s. How many “renewal movements” were there? At any rate, there is no easy way. There’s going to be a family in there somewhere that has to be moved around, which means a big hubbub and inconvenience. There will be more complaints from extended family that we are moving yet again (but how could we possibly be farther away?). I’ve even heard that some people, in an effort to get the very best possible education, actually even attend several schools before completing their doctorate. This may even be “normal.”
But in the end, I’d like to teach. Perhaps even teach while pastoring a small church. But we’d really like this to be in a small town, for a number of reasons, but for me primarily because there’s a third thing I’d like to do: I’d like to write. Okay, so I’m already writing, and you wonder if maybe you could find a way to get me to shut up. But I mean I’d like to really write. Like books. So many things I’d like to say: history, theology, fiction… I would really like to write a series of historical fiction novels focusing on major leaders and movements. I figure I could start with the 20th century and work my way back. I could almost never run out of material! But in a small town, I might be able to do that because there’d be potential for fewer distractions.
And of course, in all of this (somewhere) is the raising of a family, the shaping of a home that honors God, and that’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly. But honestly, there isn’t a lot to say about it until I see the materials that God sends me, and it’s something that’s framed more in terms of *shape* than in logistical planning.
But there you have it. My life is planned out. All of you who were worried can now rest at ease. Now nothing can possibly go wrong.