The Taser's Edge

Genogram of Me: Books and Degrees

This post is the first of a series of excerpts from the family history project I completed for my Christian Marriage and Family Across Cultures course (edited to protect the innocent).

This one is on my family’s proclivity towards amassing books and degrees.  The others are more interesting, but I didn’t have time to edit them tonight:

“The next trend is toward books and formal education.  Grandpa has a Ph.D. in chemistry, Grandma has an M.A. in education, Mamaw has a M.A. in English literature, her sister H has a B.A. in psychology, and Papaw died midway through a bachelor’s degree program.[1] My father and all of his siblings have bachelor’s degrees, he has an M.Div. and a D.Min., and his sister P has two bachelor’s degrees and will soon have an M.A. in education.  My mother has a B.A. and an M.F.A. in creative writing, and her brother M has a double B.A. in Philosophy and History.  Among my siblings, three out of four will have bachelor’s degrees (as do my two married siblings’ spouses) at the end of this school year, and one (me) will have a master’s.  My M.Div. will make me a third generation with a graduate degree on both sides of my family, and if I one day pursue a doctorate, I will be the third generation with a doctorate on my father’s side.

Even beyond formal education, there is also a trend toward self-education, and it is symbolized by massive amounts of books, especially on the J side of the family.  Grandpa lives in a country farmhouse in which every wall is covered by bookshelves, housing thousands of books as well as thousands of vinyl albums.  My parents’ home is full of books, as is my father’s church office, as are the apartments of both of my brothers, and my wife and I share twelve to fifteen hundred volumes between us at age 25.  Perhaps this is all another manifestation of mental illness.  In some ways, this collecting is for me (and I think also for at least my grandfather) another manifestation of perfectionism, but toward a perfection of knowledge.”

[1] Papaw, Mamaw, and H all returned to school in their late 40s or early 50s to begin their college educations.