Masonica --> Academic Theology Studies

GingerTabby

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#1
I too have a collection of Masonic regalia and books, all of which belonged to my late father.

The appearance of this thread is one in a series of Masonic-themed coincidences I've experienced recently. About two weeks ago I found myself thinking about matters Masonic. It was around the anniversary of my father's death so perhaps the subject came to mind for that reason. A few days later I received an email at my day job from someone I'd worked with last year in another unit of our organisation. She'd heard that I have a PhD in theology and she seemed to think that might make me knowledgeable about Freemasons. (Not bloody likely at a pontifical university). My academic work was unrelated to Freemasonry but I have done a certain amount of reading on the subject, mainly because I have a family tree full of Masons. I don't claim to be an expert on it but I provided her with some general information and my own observations. She knew nothing whatsoever about Freemasonry and appreciated my comments. Not long after our exchange of email, Swifty started this thread. It's quite a banal series of coincidences, I know, but I found it strange that the subject should come up several times over the course of a few days.

Stranger still was the fact that in the same email my colleague also asked about paganism, specifically Asatru. I told her what I knew about it, which isn't a great deal but she seemed satisfied with my comments. Days later I came across this article on the Beeb's website: http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20190602-how-iceland-recreated-a-viking-age-religion

I'm wondering what is going to pop up next!
 

GingerTabby

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#3
We do tend to move in rarified air sometimes, we Fortists.

PhD in Theology. That would be great fun. What did you focus your thesis on, GT?
My topic was Robert Isaac Wilberforce's (1802-1857) understanding of Eucharistic presence. Robert was a son of anti-slavery crusader William Wilberforce and a brother of Samuel, who served as Bishop of Oxford among other positions. Robert piqued my interest because I kept seeing references to him as the systematic theologian of the Oxford Movement yet not a great deal had been written about him. Library bookshelves weren't groaning under the weight of tomes offering analysis of his work so there was lots of room for my observations. I thought it would be wiser to write about someone obscure rather than attempt to find a new angle on the works of someone about whom much ink had already been spilled, e.g. Robert's contemporary John Henry Newman.

The research and writing of the thesis was indeed great fun. The context in which this work took place was less so, unfortunately. Two unrelated developments caused me considerable grief. I was compelled to remove my first research director after he moved to Geneva and went incommunicado. He took a leave of absence from the university in order to start a job at the World Council of Churches. He assured me that he would be able to supervise my work from a distance and encouraged me to retain him as director. I initially did so in the hope of maintaining continuity but that proved to be a mistake. After a prolonged radio silence following his departure from the university I contacted the university's director of graduate studies, who was sympathetic to my plight and granted my request to replace my errant director. Fortunately, all went smoothly with the new director. These events coincided with my partner's diagnosis and subsequent treatment for terminal brain cancer, which killed him two years before I finished the thesis.

A Roman Catholic priest of my acquaintance who teaches full-time at the university is currently working on a paper about PhD work as sort of Camino de Santiago, i.e. a pilgrimage route that leads to enlightenment. He is now in his mid-fifties and, like me, he did his doctoral work in early middle age. Some months ago I had a conversation with him during which he described his own experience of what he calls the "post-thesis slump." He told me he had a bout with cancer when he was nineteen years old. He said the psychological effects of his cancer treatment paled in comparison to the let-down he felt after completing his PhD. I was struck by that statement. Thankfully, I've never had a serious illness and therefore can't imagine what he went through, although I do know what it's like to accompany someone on life's final stretch. I also know what that "post-thesis slump" feels like, however, because I am still in it. I find it very telling that my priest friend found that slump more challenging than coping with cancer.

We all have challenges to face, so perhaps I should heed the admonition to not take life too seriously since we won't get out of it alive. (The internet attributes that statement to Bugs Bunny, wise rabbit that he is). ;)

Apologies to Swifty and the mods for thread derailment. As you were.
 

skinny

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#4
Thank you, GT. I appreciate your candour. I also take encouragement from your endurance. Your story puts my own current turbulence into perspective. I think the thread is the better for your sharing. Sure isn't the masonic impetus fraternity anyway.

I'm keen to engage with your study and its aftermath another time. Fascinating area of research.
 

skinny

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#5
currently working on a paper about PhD work as sort of Camino de Santiago, i.e. a pilgrimage route that leads to enlightenment.
This is of particular interest. Enlightenment through formal study is a notion that I can attest to. My academic path has been long and broken, but it might yet prove to embody a spiritual healing I've always yearned for. Btw, my Da is a theologian - a retired Reverend. Retired is not a state he has come to terms with. I think pastoring is not a field that you just abandon at 65. He's 76 now and still has the energy of a priest half his age.

Sorry, now I'm derailing. I'll start a Chat Room in the casual lounge.
 

GingerTabby

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#6
Thank you, GT. I appreciate your candour. I also take encouragement from your endurance. Your story puts my own current turbulence into perspective. I think the thread is the better for your sharing. Sure isn't the masonic impetus fraternity anyway.

I'm keen to engage with your study and its aftermath another time. Fascinating area of research.
Skinny, I appreciate your kind words and your interest in my studies. I would be pleased to engage with you on this subject whenever you like.

I'm sorry that you've been experiencing turbulence in your life. I hope matters will be sorted soon.

This is of particular interest. Enlightenment through formal study is a notion that I can attest to. My academic path has been long and broken, but it might yet prove to embody a spiritual healing I've always yearned for. Btw, my Da is a theologian - a retired Reverend. Retired is not a state he has come to terms with. I think pastoring is not a field that you just abandon at 65. He's 76 now and still has the energy of a priest half his age.
It's very interesting that your father is a retired Reverend. I agree that being a member of the clergy is a life-long commitment and not just another job. I've often heard it said that many clergy find themselves busier in retirement than they were when they were leading a congregation. It's wonderful that he has so much energy. I would be interested to read your reflections on being the son of a pastor.
 

Frideswide

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#7
It's very interesting that your father is a retired Reverend. I agree that being a member of the clergy is a life-long commitment and not just another job. I've often heard it said that many clergy find themselves busier in retirement than they were when they were leading a congregation. It's wonderful that he has so much energy. I would be interested to read your reflections on being the son of a pastor.
couldn't agree more! I'm the grandaughter of a Pisky Priest and he and my grandmother brought me up.

It really is a vocation.
 
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