A Ph.D. student in religion veered off from his friends one morning to head toward the divinity school chapel. “Where are you going?” one of his colleagues asked. “To chapel for the Lord’s Supper,” he replied. His friend thought for a moment before responding with the critical distance beloved in the academy, “Well, that’s problematic.”
The divide between academic study and everyday life seems especially wide in religion. Doctoral programs in religion study faith from the outside, like a mortician tending a corpse. Those who want to serve the church as pastors follow a different track in less rigorous M.Div. or D.Min. programs. Meanwhile seminaries struggle to find professors for their “practical” posts—teaching positions in preaching, liturgy, Christian education, evangelism—who combine both practical know-how and rigorous academic training.