What To Do With a B.A. in Theology?


If you're considering a B.A. in theology, Elizabeth Tenety will give you an inside look at what it's like to major in this field.

I studied Theology and Government at Georgetown, a double major that has landed me in the lucrative field of . . . Graduate School. 

Perhaps because of my academic background, I frequently find myself on the receiving end of unsolicited religious confessions of all varieties. People like to tell me things. Spiritual things. 

Agnostic? Southern Baptist? Jew for Jesus? I’m your girl. 

For example, Upon hearing of my theology training, I’ve been informed by an acquaintance that Jesus talks to him. Fascinating. 

I’ve been told by a friend that there is no God. Oh really? 

I have been told everything else in between. 

I think that physicians must experience a similar phenomenon, when their friends, family, and even perfect strangers ask them to diagnose their assorted lumps and lesions at the most inopportune times. 

Similarly, by wearing their Roman Collar, priests publicly advertise their vocation and often find themselves dispensing pizza parlor penances or doling out hasty blessings in foreign airports. 

In a different, less refined way, I’ve become a theological jack of all trades. Upon hearing of my studies, few ever inquire about my beliefs. They simply use my background as an invitation to tell me exactly what it is that they believe, and often presume that I think the exact same. Hey Georgetown –I wasn’t trained for this. 

Skeptics talk to me about “those crazy evangelicals.” Evangelicals send me books about how to defend the faith against “non-believers.” Both seem to think that I am in their camp, and in a way, I guess I am. I too am seeking truth, I want to hear both sides of that story. 

I want to hear their stories. 

I have found that while we are told not to talk religion in polite company, the polite company is desperate to talk religion. 

Today I was running an errand at a local store when my chat with the store owner turned to my studies. At first we were strictly talking about which product I should buy. Next we were talking about the nature of reality. 

“I try every day to ‘Fully Rely On God,’” he told me, holding out a brown paper bag full of tiny plastic frogs. I reached in for one frog, a reminder to F.R.O.G, but ended up taking two. I passed one on. 

I shared with him a similar mantra. I use St. Theresa of Avila’s Solo Dios basta,’ ‘Only God suffices.’ And though this acquaintance told me about his reliance on a higher power, today he taught me about leaning on, and learning from others. I had heard of ‘Love thy neighbor.’ Today, I learned ‘Listen to thy neighbor because thy neighbor has something interesting to say.’ 

I left his store positively giddy, and grateful that for some mysterious reason, people like to tell me their stories. 

Maybe that B.A. in Theology was useful after all. Take that, Mom and Dad.

Written by: Elizabeth Tenety 

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