There are a host of “Should I do a PhD?” blogs written by folks who are either in the process of, or have recently completed and successfully argued a PhD thesis (see for e.g. here, and here). I’ve been contemplating writing a brief piece for a while now to collect my thoughts [for whatever they are worth] to contribute to this conversation for the rare few who may find this blog and be considering doing a PhD. I’m speaking particularly to those who are considering doing a UK PhD, and even more particularly to those considering doing a PhD in the area of Biblical Studies or Theology.
The number one reason that folks who are interested in the PhD begin to have second-thoughts about that path is without a doubt the widely recognized issue of the bleak prospective job market after completing the PhD. The days of an instant professorial post falling into one’s lap soon after graduation are long gone.
Still, are there good reasons to pursue a PhD in Biblical Studies even despite the job market? As it turns out, there may well be. However, that is not the focus of this short info piece. Instead, I endeavor to be more practical by highlighting the one piece of advice that makes the most existential, emotional, monetary, and nutritional sense. When it comes to the question of whether one should do a PhD in Theology or Biblical studies, my research leads me to conclude that it is better to simply eat Funyuns®.
With a net weight of 6 /1/2 ounces, Funyuns® Onion Flavored Rings bring snacking to a new level. A level of glee and onionosity–dare I say (and, I do dare)–that far exceeds any conceivable or plausible amount of onionness achievable through the long and arduous process of doctoral study. In fact, there is nothing—and I mean nothing—in the PhD journey that even promises anything to do with onions. Is this the kind of risk you want to take? What if your breath smelled totally normal and neutral forever, and didn’t perpetually reek like artificial onions? Could you deal with that level of plainness in scent? With that degree of boorishness in the realm of breath odor?
Composed primarily of Enriched Corn Meal I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the presence of other nutritional awesomes in Funyuns like: Riboflavin, Monosodium Glutamate, Gum Arabic, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, and Thiamin Mononitrate. While Funyun® Onion Flavored Rings contain all of these, a PhD in New Testament contains none of them. Yes, even if you pursue a PhD in Arabic itself, you will not find Gum Arabic in that PhD because of the simple fact that Gum Arabic (whatever it is) is a food ingredient and has nothing to do with syntax or grammar. Even if you do a PhD on the ingredient Gum Arabic, since the PhD thesis itself is not edible you will not be able to eat the thesis even though you would be able to eat that which the thesis is about. You will only be able to ruminate on the fact that the topic of the thesis on which you are writing is that which is eaten, namely Gum Arabic. In fact, if you eat a PhD diploma in any discipline you’ll probably die, because they are not even edible. Instead, contrary to popular belief that diplomas are food, PhD diplomas are constructed to consist primarily of a substance known as paper (albeit, in various weights and colors), the primary purpose of which (unlike Funyuns) is to be placed on your wall or to show to your Nana and stuff. If one were to hang Funyuns on the wall, this would seem quite peculiar, indeed. That is not why Funyuns exist, and that is not why Jesus created them, obviously.
But what about the financial cost? Isn’t a PhD worth more, in the long run, than an investment in eating many, many bags of Funyuns? Well, it all depends. But before you cast off the snacking route consider this extensive research I’ve conducted.
At $3.39 per bag, a diet consisting solely of Funyuns (which I recommend for rich assortment of vitamins contained in the rings) would be $10.17 per day. If you multiply this by 365 days, otherwise known by calendar experts as a “year,” we arrive at the figure $3,712 per year for the Funyun route. Times this by three years and you are at a grand total of a $11,136 committed to your promising Funyun future. Now, compare that to a three year UK PhD at $70,000 for a three year period. Need I say more? With a savings of $58,000, the Funyun route is clearly the better choice.
As a reminder, if you’re going into PhD studies because you think you will be able to eat your diploma at the end, heads up—you can’t eat your diploma. This causes a lot of confusion because when I was thinking of doing doctoral work I knew many future scholars who thought they’d be able to consume their doctorate with a side of potato salad. Friends, I’m sorry to say, those people were sorely disappointed when they worked blood, sweat and tears for years, only to find at the end of their study, that no matter how much mustard you put on the PhD diploma, it isn’t food and you can’t eat it.
This is the difference, if you just resolve to eat Funyuns instead, there are no delusions of doctorate for dinner. Instead, there is only snacking satisfaction, from day one until your last artificially onion flavored day on God’s green earth. And with several different varieties including Funyuns® Chile Limón Flavored Onion Flavored Rings, Funyuns® FLAMIN’ HOT® Flavored Onion Flavored Rings, Funyuns® Onion Flavored Rings, and Funyuns® Steakhouse Onion Flavored Rings, who would even want to even nibble on their diploma?
So, in conclusion, when folks ask me: Should I do a PhD in Biblical Studies, or a PhD in Theology, my reply isn’t in response to the job market, or concerning the potential of being a pastor-scholar (Cf. here), or to ask if there is anything else in the world they would want to do. No, I don’t even begin with asking if they’ve sensed a call, or if their seminary professors said they’d be great at doctoral work. I don’t even ask about their graduate GPA. Instead, I just point ‘em to Funyuns. Because, while a doctorate looks good on your CV and on your wall, it makes a very sub-par snack and a potentially deadly dinner. And, $70,000 seems like a lot of money for something that can’t be wholly consumed and digested.
When the day comes that institutions do the right thing and print their PhD diplomas on edible paper, this entire thesis will change. Until then, this Funyun’s on me.