So Long, Phil!
Words of Wisdom from Retiring Professor Phil Long
Dr. Phil Long will be retiring from Regent College in summer 2019. Over the last two decades he has blessed both colleagues and students at Regent with his wise teaching, excellent scholarship, and unstinting good humor (all of which are on display in the video below). Polly Long, Phil’s wife, has also been a vital presence in the Regent community, teaching Greek and academic writing and leading preaching labs at the College.
Read Phil's thoughts below, and don't forget to check out his tips for preaching the First Testament.
On Retirement Plans
Our current plan, Lord willing, is to move down to Mount Vernon, Washington, where we have two sons and their wives, and seven grandchildren. Polly and I are intent on being pretty active and helpful grandparents, which will be one of our main callings. And I’m looking forward to having a bit more time to write.
I also hope to pursue painting fairly seriously for a time. We’re actually going to be building an art studio down there. A number of our children and grandchildren enjoy art, so I’m hoping it will become a kind of family studio, and people can come in and paint. It should be really fun!
You know, retirement begins to look good at a certain point in life, not as the cessation of doing things, but as having more freedom to do things you’ve had to set aside. When I was in grade school, if you asked me how God made me, I would say, “He made me an artist.” I began my working life as an artist. So in a sense I’m coming full circle.
On Art and Biblical Studies
Some of my writing has been in the area of Bible and history. The Bible often represents the past in a very artistic way. When I started thinking about literary representation in the Bible, asking how a narrative could be history but also clearly artistic, that’s where my background in art kicked in.
I used to paint portraits. They were certainly art, but art in the interest of representing a historical subject. The better the artistry, the better the likeness. That helped me come to grips with what’s going on in biblical narrative. It’s very artistic in its crafting, with wordplay and all these literary devices. But that’s in the service of, and constrained by, the desire to capture a likeness of real things, real people, real acts of God in history, the real Jesus.
My own artistic bent is toward connection with things I find interesting and beautiful. It’s not that I necessarily have this urge to create or to communicate a particular message. It’s more about the connection—it will require creation, and it will say something, but it’s more a celebration of the beauty of the world, the beauty of the people in the world.
On Technology, Culture, and Learning
Our culture and the nature of learning have changed dramatically since I’ve been at Regent. The context in which we live makes it very difficult to sustain a train of thought. Because everything’s hyperlinked, there are constant distractions that want to pull us into a different website, or book, or category of thinking.
There’s a continued temptation to live, think, and learn that way—just flitting from this to that. At Regent, I think we need to keep stressing the importance of engaged, transformative learning. Of people learning together in community. We need to help each other slow down and stay on topic. That’s the only way to have conversations that actually get somewhere.
I think of technology as an array of power tools. Power tools rightly used can accomplish great things. But power tools in the hands of the inexperienced can cause real damage. I think we need to be very attentive to make sure people are well-formed and integrated before they’re handed a power tool.
On Memory, Pedagogy, and Verbal Dexterity
(or . . . "On How Fast He Can Do His Hebrew Paradigms")
On Regent's future
My hope for the College is that it will continue to draw keen minds from around the world. And I also hope Regent will continue to be a place that cultivates broad-minded, but rightly-centered, human beings—people who try to be true to Christ in an exciting and challenging time.
Regent is very dependent on people who believe in what we’re doing. It would be lovely if those people would think and pray about how they can support Regent now and in the future. It’s not all about money, but without money things don’t happen.
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