We must resist the popular tendency to think of transcendence as an upward and outward escape from the realities of self and world. instead, transcendence is a breaking-in, a breathing of the Spirit of love into the heart of our existence, a literal in-spiration that allows us to regard ourselves and our world with more trust and hope than ever before. To experience transcendence means to be removed–not from self and world, but from that hall of mirrors in which the two endlessly reflect and determine one another. Prayer takes us out–not out of self and world, but out of their closed, circular logic. (Palmer, To Know As We Are Known, p. 13)
One of my goals throughout the process of getting a PhD has been to always keep the people in the local congregation in mind. It is painful to see someone’s eyes glaze over when I start to talk. That’s when I realize I’ve slipped into academic-speak. I don’t want to be that guy. If the people in the local church can’t understand what I’m saying, then what’s the point of saying it?
This is a difficult balance to maintain, because the deeper one goes into the academic world, the more one realizes that big words are more efficient to communicate complex ideas. This process, however, creates an elitism–whether intentional or unintentional–within the academy that creates an unfortunate gap between professional theologians and lay theologians (after all, we are all theologians, right?)