Who Should We Think With?

I enjoy history so was intrigued to read an article titled “Reimagining a History PhD-Doing Academia outside of Academia”.  In it Dr. Paul Gutacker of Baylor refers to Brazos Fellows, which he directs and enjoys:

I serve as director of Brazos Fellows, a nine-month fellowship for college graduates. Brazos Fellows helps young adults explore their vocation in a community that studies, works, and prays together—while aiming to bring together the life of the mind and the life of worship by situating serious theological and historical study in the local church. As you can imagine, this is immensely rewarding work for a religious historian such as myself. If you’d like to read more about the intellectual community Brazos Fellows seeks to cultivate, you can check out my recent post at the Baylor Graduate School blog.

I did check out the referenced post, which refers to a book by Alan Jacobs that already sounded interesting to me, but more so now:

In his brilliant little book, How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds, Baylor professor Alan Jacobs takes on a commonly-held myth—the idea that our best thinking happens when we “think for ourselves.” This axiom just doesn’t match up with how thinking works. “To think independently of other human beings is impossible, and if it were possible it would be undesirable,” Jacobs concludes, “Thinking is necessarily, thoroughly, and wonderfully social.”(p. 37) Rather than trying to think for ourselves, Jacobs argues that we should consider who we should think with. We should ask: what makes a good thinking partner? What makes a community trustworthy to think with?

……our work at Brazos Fellows presumes that Jacobs is essentially correct: we aren’t meant to ask the big questions on our own. This is true when it comes to questions of discernment—what was I made for? What am I good at, and how does that relate to my vocation?—and more fundamental questions about what it means to be human, to be embodied, to live in society. At Brazos Fellows, we ask these questions with the church—both the church throughout time and the church globally. Put in Jacobs’ terms, we aim for our team of instructors and tutors to be a trustworthy community to think with.

After one year of directing the Brazos Fellows, it’s been immensely rewarding to see the results. Our fellows, such as Jess Schurz (B.A., Baylor ’18), are asking questions like “What is the spiritual value of loneliness?” and “How does beauty invite us deeper into reality?”  Now, in our second year, a new cohort of fellows is exploring big questions like “what can the early church teach us about our cultural assumptions about death?” I can’t wait to see what questions they ask next.

Read it all here.  How wonderful it must be to be a part of that community.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s