Wednesday, March 24, 2004

More Porridge, Please

With just about anything there comes a point at which you simply stop caring. At that point, or somewhere 'round about, you begin to stop taking things all that seriously. For you Americans out there, this is the point at which the British phrase 'taking the piss' becomes appropriate. Case in point, my most recent letter requesting departmental funding:

To whom it may concern:

The time I have spent studying within the Theology and Religious Studies Department has been, without any hint of hesitation or exaggeration, the best of my life. It has rarely been easy and never completely what I expected. And yet, as in most good things, one's efforts and expectations must often be stretched if one is to accomplish much of anything. This has proven true not only of my new, expatriate life in Scotland, wherein I have learned the importance of water with whisky, of not asking the ingredients of haggis, and of counting one's change; nor simply of my research into the middle ground of theology, philosophy, and literature, where, if my thesis is to believed, confession meets culture in an engagement from which neither can be the same again. On a much more practical level, though, for better or worse, I have also been stretched to a financial breaking point.

For better, I have learned the value of a dollar (and a pound), as well as the fine art of devising and sticking to a tight budget. For worse, much worse, I'm afraid, I have also learned the pathology of stress gastrisis / ulcers. My story of student loans and credit card debt is not uncommon for the international student, as undoubtedly attested to by the other letters seeking similar funding, so I do not bring up my own now to break any hearts. However, as Aristotle tells us, any story worth being called true, true enough to be believed anyway (even when it, apropos of religious studies, is, for want of a better word, a lie) deserves to be told and retold again. In other words, mine but joins the litany of palms (once again) requesting the alms from a purse we each know to be tight.

[. . .]

The Department of Theology and Religious Studies has been very good and gracious to me. The staff has been tolerant of my penchant for self-indulgent esotericism, and the students a community of productive criticism and community. Thankfully, the invisible, ethereal wind of administrative forces behind the scenes have in years past been both, to a degree fitting of their divine subject, sympathetic and benevolent to how much all an international education costs these days. With this in mind, this being, as it were, the sacrifice in which the devotee's only profit is the sustained consistency and general omnipotence of that to which he sacrifices, I request (but one final time) to be considered for departmental funding for 2004/05.