So, just a couple minutes ago I sent the paper I will be presenting next week off to the person who will respond to it. The way these things work in academic circles is that you write something, someone else reads it, and after you have given your presentation, they get up and respond to you. You don't know what their critique is going to be or even what questions you will get. Honestly, it is a bit nerve racking and can cause me to worry a lot about what type of reception my will have.
The interesting thing about all of this is that I have spent the last three weeks working on the this paper. I have had an amazing amount of time to put it together. My duties as a father and husband have not distracted me as my family hasn't been here (though not being around them has distracted me in other ways). However, even after more undivided time than I have ever had, I still feel like there is more that I need to research and write in this paper for it to be thorough. I want to make changes and clean things up. I want to expand certain thoughts. In many areas, I feel like I am painting with a broad brush. It is hard to say, 'it is finished.' Yet, I had to turn it in, so that my respondent would have time to prepare his response.
This week I reflected on this feeling of needing to do more. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that scholarship is in many ways a work in developing humility. There will always be more to read. The research will never be done. However, at some point you just need to write. You may find out that you had a major blindspot and someone will point it out. At that moment you have a choice, do you re-evaluate your position or do you double down? Scholarship is learning to say, 'I am not God' even in areas where you may spend your entire life studying you will never know it all.
Honestly, this isn't just scholarship. This is true with all of life. Whether it be cooking, your job, parenting, being married, being single, there is always more to learn. You can always do it better. You need to read about it, learn about it, talk to others about it. We need to learn our limitations. We will never know everything there is to know any area of life. We may have more knowledge than some on a specific topic, whatever that may be, but there is always more to learn. There is always another rabbit hole to go down.
This time in Kampen is working on me in the development of my humility. I sent off a paper with which I was mildly happy. I think it makes a modest proposal and supports its conclusions (it may even contribute something to the field), but I know that there will be questions asked that will challenge me. I know that I don't have this field completely covered. I know that I will at some point say, 'that's a great point that I have not thought about, but I will now.' It is always hard to hear critiques on something that you have worked on for a long time and rigorously researched. However, if I don't take those critiques and questions, how can I learn? How can I improve? Scholarship develops humility. Scholarship is constantly remembering that I am not God.