I was fishing last evening with one of my friends/DMin students, and he said something interesting: “There seems to be no rivalry between you and Brian McLaren.”
We have talked some about rivalry this week, especially about Rene Girard’s view of rivalry, and of Jesus’ undermining of male-on-male rivalries. (More on that another time.)
“It’s true,” I responded, “I feel no rivalry with Brian. And I feel that he’s genuinely happy for any success I have.”
Academic institutions are notoriously rife with rivalries. As I reach my mid-forties, I have friends across academia who are vying for deanships and vice presidencies. Bloody battles are waged over such things.
I don’t mean to imply that all professors hope for the downfall of their colleagues. But academic departments do seem to exacerbate feelings of rivalry, in spite of their attempts at collegiality.
Teaching a class from a canoe and a campsite instill a dramatically different vibe, as you can imagine. Most days end with Brian and me — the two instructors — sharing a cup of coffee and some fishing. The environment of being in the wild and out of a classroom inculcates a fellowship that I just don’t think could be replicated inside a classroom.
What is your experience with academic rivalries? How have you seen them exacerbated and/or mitigated?