Thursday, August 25, 2005

Be thou open 

In an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education today (I think this one is open to all readers), "Andy Jackson" publishes his struggle with creating a CV for an academic job without saying too much about his religious background. Concerned that some English departments would look askance at this working with Christian organizations, he tried a variety of strategies to express the work he'd done and the passion with which he had done it without revealing its religious nature. It's turned out not to have worked out well.
In hindsight, it seems that the various strategies I pondered to avoid bigotry were unnecessary and spiritually unwise. My two years on the market have convinced me that, at the application stage, the fear of bigotry is worse than the bigotry itself. After all, you never really know why a search committee rejects you at the initial stage.

At any rate, I couldn't see myself happy at an institution where colleagues secretly or openly believed that religious convictions made someone a less interesting and capable human being.

So where did that leave me? My reasons for going on the market had more to do with a sense of calling than anything else -- in this case, a calling to work at an institution with a graduate program. Furthermore, the surest way to know that you have conquered a fear is to face it head on, and for me, that meant trying the market one last time. That quest paid off: This fall, I will be an assistant professor of English at a public institution in the West.
His advisors told him to be open, and indeed he was successful when he finally was. It's sound advice.