(Apologies for the pathetic tone of this post. I’m putting it up to be cathartic and because I imagine there are a good handful of people in my position that can relate. Nevertheless, it’s got rhetorical questions and the like, and we all hate blog posts filled with rhetorical questions)
‘Tis the season for grad school applications, and there’s nothing like filling these out to make one consider the path of one’s future. I myself am in discernment limbo; my diocese has given over a year of false starts and the official discernment process has yet to begin. That puts me in the awkward position of needing to apply to seminaries without any clear direction or support from the diocese or put off school for another year in hopes that things will start moving soon. But I don’t want to just hang around for a year.
Yet this isn’t even the only issue. The question that keeps coming before me is, “Do I see myself pursuing the traditional academic path?” MDiv or MATh, to PhD, to adjunct, to tenure track… Someone like me gets asked fairly often whether ordination is even “necessary” for what I want to do. Well, is it? And what do I want to do? (More importantly, I suppose, is what does God want me to do) Do I want to be a traditional academic teacher, or a parish priest who teaches on the side? A teaching-priest? Much of this will presumably get hashed out with discernment, but pragmatic questions are important enough to think through even now.
The fact of the matter is I can’t cut it in the current institutional situation. There are too many young, childless, straight-A students out there that will automatically qualify over me when it comes to getting into schools for degrees and for careers. Everyone knows tenure is shrinking, moreover I can see just how abusive the adjunct situation is. It practically has to be like this to deal with the emerging system. I don’t really want to subject myself to a decade or more of adjunct work, at least not where it’s my primary vocation and means of living. I’ve heard too many stories of people with hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loans and not one bit of potential work to show for it. Helping out institutions and teaching on the side seems all together more healthy and desirable.
And that’s the way I’m leaning. Under a healthier education system, I feel confident that I could contribute and find work, but for now at least, I think I just wanna be friends.