Posted by: nickgerlich | April 30, 2008


A preacher friend of mine once gave me some sage advice. “Believe in the power of the narrative,” he said. I was preparing to deliver my first message in a church setting, and I was nervously trying to write a homily that wasn’t an academic lecture, yet also wasn’t just another boring deductive (abstract principles leading to a concrete reality) or inductive (concrete reality leading to abstact principles) Powerpoint sermon.

No, I was a student of the abductive method. As Leonard Sweet, et al, said in “‘A’ Is For Adbuctive,” the abductive method allows us to “seize people by the imagination and transport them from their current world to another world, where they gain a new perspective.”

And my preacher friend was merely trying to help me shape the story I was going to wrap around my listeners. Believe in the story, the power of the narrative, he said, but always let the listener finish it for you. In their own minds.

I suppose if you have to explain the metaphor, it’s not worth telling.

That preacher friend and I have stories to tell. I recall with great fondness the cold November Sunday we left right after church and drove to Fort Worth, inhaled a monster pizza at Uno’s, and then saw 80s Christian hair band Stryper in concert on a reunion tour.

So there we were. The Preacher and the Professor. Screaming. Singing. Fists in the air. Our lack of leather, long hair and tattoos made us stand out, but we didn’t care. Heck, Becky and I even had a Stryper song played at our wedding in 1986, so I was in my glory hearing those old songs.

And like two young men on a roadtrip, we laughed ourselves silly driving back to Amarillo all night. Back in the office by 9:00am, none of my colleagues were any the wiser that they worked with a headbanger.

CookiesA few months ago when we began this journey, I regaled you with tales of my winter vacation spent bicycling around Florida. I started the semester with these words:

I suppose I could launch the semester with yet another of my tired metaphors of us all being on some mystical academic journey.

In spite of the tire tracks in that word picture, the fact is, we have been on an academic journey. Sometimes mystical, occasionally mythical, definitely not mathematical, and often mirthical (I just made that up).

It has been a long, strange roadtrip, primarily through the Great State of Web 2.0, but with occasional detours into the neighboring states of Culture, Society and Ethics. Who could forget, the site for the dead? The hysterically funny 1967 video Year 1999 A.D.? The fact that I named two blogs “Pulse?” The CAMiLEON Heels site?

I could go on, but in a strange kind of way, I feel like we’re somewhere around Childress TX, and it is 4:30am. We’ve only got a couple more hours to go. Are those the lights of Amarillo? Or are my eyes fooling me? MUST…STAY…AWAKE. So close…but there’s still one more hill to climb, one more exam to take.

So as we near the end of our journey, I suspect this finds you happy. Screaming. Singing. Fists in the air.

All I can say is that I have enjoyed the journey. And the package of cookies is empty, for many of you have stretched and reached to find them up there on that top shelf. Kudos to you, for in so doing you have grown a bit taller in the forest of your peers.

It’s time to reload, recover, and repack for the next adventure. Believe in the power of the narrative.

In a mystical kind of way, of course.

Dr “‘G’ Is For” Gerlich


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