My Master's Degree Explained...Over and Over Again

Getting a useless or underused MA is a great millennial pastime! I got mine in religion! It was a bad idea! Here are the various ways I have explained it to people in my life, with varying levels of success. To my parents:

“No, guys. I really wasn’t planning to be a pastor with it, that’s actually a totally different degree. Mine is actually useful for other things…I know I’m not…. I don’t have to tell y-…No…No, seriously, I don't need…I mean, I won’t mail it back to you if that's what you're asking.”

To my grandparents:

“Yes, lots of my friends there became pastors….No, I didn’t really date any of them… Because that’s not really what’s important to me right now…Marriage is a patriarchal inst-…You’re right, I should smile more.”

To friends:

“Yeah, I was thinking about getting a PhD in religion and this was just putting my toe in the waters of academia to see if it was a good fit and I decided it wasn’t which I am totally fine with…Yeah, I definitely found that it helped with my writing…Oh you saw my blogs about cats and spirituality…Yeah, the degree definitely helped get my foot in the door at Catster.”

To close friends:

“Let's be real, I was probably going to die if I had stayed in New York at 25…Thanks, I’m glad I’m not dead too. ”

To adults at church:

“I just really didn’t feel that I was finished learning after undergrad, and studying religion felt like adding an important layer of texture to my earlier study of history... Oh sure, I’d love to volunteer at the rummage sale... Yes, not having children does mean I don’t have any Saturday obligations.”

To kids at church:

“Go play hide and seek behind that expensive set of chalices, you’re not going to make me admit I don’t really believe in God anymore… Oh for fuck’s sake, don’t take Teddy Grahams into the sanctuary.”

To dates who casually ask about graduate school

“Um, I went to Yale? For uh, religion and development studies? It was, uh, really interesting? These aren’t really questions. I know where I went and what I studied. Answering questions as questions is a vocal tick of the insecure when they want to placate those to whom they’re speaking. Christopher Hitchens hated it. The tick and religion, too. He hated most things. He was smarter than me. Everyone is smarter than me... Sure I’d love another one.”

To dates who mention being “ABD” at a school “in Cambridge”:

“So can we just hate-fuck a multilingual concert pianist into existence and name it after a river in Serbia as is befitting a spawn of wretched people like us? Sava for a boy, Drina for a girl. It will be raised well-dressed and hateful like us…Thanks. I prefer to call it 'moxie' but I’ll take ‘spunk’ if you insist.”

To religion & culture editors:

“I combined study at the Divinity School with work at the Jackson Institute of Global Affairs, resulting in a more comprehensive understanding of the theological dimensions guiding political and economic action. My hope is that when people understand international development as governed by individuals acting on concerns rooted in theological ontologies rather than economic ones, we can create better informed and more empathetic systems of global governance.”

To lifestyle editors:

“I went to divinity school for funsies, isn’t that just the silliest thing you ever heard? Below are three pitches about things that really matter to me: a listicle about butts, a narrative about Daniel Day Lewis, and how liberation theology might be reimagined for the global north. I mean, orgasms. I want to write a story about orgasms. ”