I have big plans getting underway this year!
“New directions in 2019” might sound like a New Year’s resolution, but it really isn’t. These plans came to be some months ago, but it just happens that I’ll be putting them into effect this year.
In February this year I’m returning to study. I will begin a psychology degree. And why would I do that? There are a few reasons.
First, it interests me. As I look back over some of the writing I’ve done at this blog that I’ve found particularly interesting, it has had a good deal of overlap with social science research in general. I documented how a study shows that adherents of organised religion have better mental health than other people. I commented on how a study shows that less educated people are more likely to abandon religious faith than more educated people. I remarked on how a study shows that the further up the education ladder we go (proceeding from Bachelors to Masters to PhD), the greater the concentration of religious people we find. I wrote about how a study shows that belief in God is actually the default natural state for human children, and that theism must be unlearned, rather than learned. I wrote a very short analysis of a study purporting to find that children from religious families are less kind than other children. There are a couple of other articles and studies on related fields that I will be writing about soon. This is all the stuff of social science research, and quite frankly, it just does it for me. There is also an apologetics angle in all this, identifying and demonstrating where the available evidence in social science research does not align, as is sometimes falsely alleged, with the hostile critiques of the Christian faith that some maintain it does, and in some ways aligns with what we would expect if Christianity is the truth that I maintain it is.
Secondly, there’s a reason very close to my heart for being interested in pursuing these studies. As I said in a recent post, mental health issues have had a profound impact on me, and even more so on people in my family (and again on me as a result). This is important stuff, and I want to go some way towards the wider effort to tame the beast, so to speak, that has done this to us. Call it a vendetta.
Thirdly, neither I nor my family are unique. There is a much greater societal awareness of the importance of addressing mental health problems and the devastating effect of not doing so in many cases. If you want to make the world a better place and you’ve got the mind and the interpersonal skills to do it, gaining expertise in psychology is one way of going about that.
Fourthly, it is my experience, partly from more general observation and partly in the experience of my family, that the social sciences and the psychological establishment (for want of a better term) is ideologically lopsided in harmful ways. People from Christian backgrounds, or their children, who interact with it can find themselves in the hands of people with worldviews that are fundamentally at odds with their own, and not – contrary to the comforting view some might prefer – because they are meeting face to face with science. I think this imbalance has implications for power over social change and it needs to be countered. My reluctance to give details here is due to my concern for the privacy of others.
Lastly for now (but I am sure there are other reasons), this is a path that opens up professional and vocational possibilities for me that will enrich my life and allow me ways to serve God better than I might otherwise have been able to. For example, while I remain in the corporate world, having a psychology qualification brings with it career possibilities in insight roles, and in a more pastoral role, it fits with my view that pastors should have the most excellent equipping possible to serve the Church. While theology, biblical studies, and even philosophy serve this end, there are ways in which psychology clearly does this as well as a person ministers to human beings in various states of brokenness.
The reason I have put off the decision to return to study for this long has been primarily financial. I’ll be doing this part-time, keeping my day job whole I do it, and I’ll be paying for it as I go. Although it’ll be worth it, it’ll be quite difficult. Feel very free to contribute to the effort if you’re so inclined. Check out the donation links in the sidebar. I really wish I had someone who could competently set up and run a Patreon account for me, but that’s an investment of time and learning I can’t really pursue just now.
This new venture will, naturally, mean that new topics of interest will find their way onto the blog. But the old interests aren’t going anywhere. Coming up at the blog over the next little while you’ll see posts about:
- Calvin and the Marian doctrines (the Roman Catholic teachings about Mary, the mother of Jesus).
- Those biblical passages about women. The next post in this series will be about the use of kephalē in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scripture).
- Some thoughts about New Zealand’s loss of faith, which will be a short analysis of a report showing the changing proportion of people in New Zealanders with religious beliefs.
- Abusing an emerging science: How primary research on gender dysphoria is already being misused for ideological purposes.
As well as (eventually) new posts in my series about speaking in tongues and about a biblical portrait of human nature as material. I’m also going to get back into making short speaking videos, as these are particular useful in a world dominated by social media. So the old Glenn will still be here!
I hope your Christmas and New Year break has been a safe and joyful one. See you again soon!