The Second Step in Being a Good Theologian
A few years ago, Debra taught me how to crochet. If you have never picked up a hook, it is quite an interesting enterprise.
First, crocheting has its own language. For beginners (like me) it reads something like this:
· beg = beginning
· ch = chain stitch
· ch sp = chain space
· dc = double crochet
· dec = decrease
· inc = increase
· mc = main color
· rep = repeat
· rs = right side
· sc = single crochet
· sl st = slip stitch
· st = stitch
· tr = treble crochet
· ws = wrong side
Then those terms are written out something like this:
Round 1 RS: Start with yarn A. 4ch then join with sl st to form a ring. 3ch (counts as a dc). 2dc into the ring, then 1ch. *3dc into ring, 1ch* rep 2 more times. Sl st to join. Fasten off yarn A.
This pattern will get you the pic that is at the top of the page.
But learning the language is just the start. The first real problem in crocheting for me is the discipline of keeping the stitches the same size. If you are making granny squares to join together, it does no good to have the same number of stitches if the squares are not the same size. Likewise, if you are making a blanket or a scarf and the stitches are not the same size then the piece will be narrower or wider at points instead of a uniform shape.
And then the second problem arose. It takes time to make anything with a crochet hook. And I am not talking just a couple hours. I am talking days – if not weeks – to finish a project.
I spent hours doing the same thing over and over. Doing several rows of work – only to find that I had dropped a stitch and had to pull it all apart. Or that I had not maintained my tension on the yarn and that there was a bunch of loose stitches right in the middle of the blanket. You have to pull the pattern apart to that point and redo it all again to make it look right.
And finally, there were my big clumsy hands. They did not like holding an E-4 hook, they much rather hold a J-10. And my big fat fingers did not like handing the corresponding thinner yarn for the E-4 hook, it liked the thicker yarn that goes with the J-10 hook.
What has learning to crochet have to do with being a good theologian? Well for starters, theology has its own language as well. Look at this list of terms. They are basic to understanding the Christian faith.
Just like the abbreviations for the stitches mean nothing until you put them in a pattern so those words mean nothing until you start to give them biblical, theological, and philosophical content. And then as much a Southern Baptist and a Pentecostal might agree on in regards to the Trinity they have differing views on sanctification and election.
But that is the real issue for most people. Just like it takes time to make crochet stitches the same, so it takes time to understand those terms and the various nuances they can have.
That just leads to the second problem that keeps people from learning theology. When people start doing theological reflection, they come to a place where there are loose places in their theology. And they have a choice to make. Either they pull it apart and rebuild it tighter or they just leave it loose. If they do not do the work of pulling it apart they wonder why certain parts of their lives are messy or continually falling apart in one area.
And then there is the big hands problem. People do not want to train themselves to think differently. Or critically. Or holistically. Or biblically. Just as I fumbled with the different size hooks and yarn, so people fumble about as they start to learn theology. I had to put the effort into training my hands to hold the hook and yarn.
And that is the second thing it takes to be a good theologian. Effort. Learning anything new takes effort. Becoming adept takes even more effort.
Are you going to put forth the effort?