At a recent conference held at Yale for LDS students doing work in Religious Studies, one of the issues that was broached but not really expanded on was the relationship between the Church and the scholar. In the next few posts I would like to unpack the issue a little more.
In this post I would like to pose the notion of priority in questions–are some questions inherently better than others? As scholars are we “progressing” in asking the questions we ask? Are we “moving beyond” the old questions that once interested us, or are we simply moving on to “different” ones?
The background for this comes from the fact that I am no longer interested in the types of questions I used to be. Debates about Coke and the Word of Wisdom, or progression between kingdoms after death don’t interest me anymore. Looking back at those questions I can’t help but wonder if I’ve “progressed” onto new issues, or if other things have simply struck my fancy (or perhaps I’ve “regressed”).
I’m not necessarily looking to make my experience paradigmatic in any way, but it does seem to follow similar trends of those I know working on “advanced” degrees (related to religion, at least). The bigger question of course, is whether there is a hierarchy of questions, or at least a hierarchy to a style of questioning (perhaps related to the questions that are asked). As scholars do we want to establish our “progression” as the norm (assuming some sense of unity constituting an “our”)? One argument I’ve heard in support of this is that an added level of self-reflexivity, which is part of “scholarly” questioning is something all members should develop. The recent post by Jupiter’s Child about the lack of self-reflexivity of things posted in the Daily Universe is evidence of this.