Today I spent the entire day with my folks at Covenant Village. It was a day devoted to sitting, running an errand, and paying attention. There are things that can be said only after time spent sitting and listening. One thing my dad and I talked about was the trend that makes everyone an expert. Simply by liking something, you are qualified to be an expert. Maybe it's a rejection of institutionalizing of learning and the decentralizing of expertise. Maybe it's due to the proliferation of information on the web and blog experts (like me) of every sort.
But what distilled our talk was the phrase "When everyone is a musician, no one is." Everyone like music. Today with iTunes etc, everyone makes, mixes and makes their own music. And I see people who dabble in music and call themselves musicians, without any formal training. Their passionate love of music and music making makes them musicians. But does it?
People buy high end cooking gear at Sur la Table, go to a gourmet store and whip up a good dinner and consider themselves chefs. We all eat, and most of us like to eat. We have strong opinions and maybe some kitchen skills (mine are all on the outdoor grill). We then consider ourselves food experts, wine experts, chocolate experts and coffee experts, just because we consume a product more than most people.
Some people love art. They pick up a brush, make some strokes, get some feedback and now call themselves artists. They learn a technique for painting, sculpture or photo-shop and call think of themselves as artists, without knowing art history or spending time under and with other artists, being critiqued and critiquing. Sales and success dictate that they are now artists. But are they?
Because a person loves Jesus and reads the Word, is he/she now a theologian or a pastor? In some situations it does. In some more low-church environments, the entry standards are little more than integrity and enthusiasm.
But does the completion of a degree program and years spent in the trenches also make on an expert? I don't think so. I think a number of things must match up before one is called a ____________:
1. Serious and disciplined training in an institution or under a master
2. A body of work or track record that shows you know what you are talking about.
3. A cognitive grasp of the theory of your particular craft that demonstrates you know why you do what you do and what you don't do.
4. Peer recognition