Working full time in apologetics--any ideas?

Hello all,

I am a recent college grad (got my Bachelor’s a year ago), and I am looking for work. I worked a summer position this past May-August, and am looking for something to replace that now.

My degree was in environmental science, and while I like that field, I think that my true calling is to do something for the Church professionally. I am a recent revert to Catholicism (Confirmed May 2010), and I really love writing and reading Catholic apologetics. I am currently working on a book detailing my conversion, and I have lately been getting into rather lengthy apologetics debates with Protestant friends on Facebook. I also like to get into discussions/debates with Protestant street preachers when I see them at the town where I went to college (I still visit quite often). I have had a good amount of experience in pro-life work as well, and have become experienced in explaining and defending the pro-life position. I really enjoy explaining and defending the faith, and have had people tell me that I have a talent at it.

My question is, what steps would I have to take to do this kind of stuff professionally? I know that there are a lot of professional, full-time Catholic apologists (ie: this website), so how do I get started in this field? I am currently trying to find a job related to my degree (environmental science), and figure that I should probably get established in that in the meantime, maybe until I finish my book.

  1. There does seem to be a pretty big demand for apologetics these days.

  2. But so much of that demand is met for free by web sites, blogs, and discussion forums, like this very one.

  3. I think the total number of paid (both full-time and part-time) Catholic apologetics workers in the USA might be as few as 15. I’m not kidding. It might be that small.

  4. My perceptions is that the people who get hired for the few paid Catholic apologetics positions there are usually have a Masters degree or Doctorate degree in Theology. I don’t mean that such a degree is necessary. Just that it helps convince readers, listeners, viewers, customers and employers that you really do know your stuff.

  5. Forgive me for being harsh, but: you just spent several years learning a discipline. Now you need a job. It think a responsible adult would not seek to change course right now.

  6. By the way, while I know lots of people love apologetics, I am actually mostly against it. To me, it is just beating other people up with logic, arguments and supposed proofs from philosophy. When I read the Gospels, I see none of this. I see conversions happening from the heart. I actually believe that the underlying premise of apologetics–that Divine Truth can be proved and seen via logic, reason and philosophy–is a main cause of all the religion-based violence in the Catholic past and the Muslim present. Apologetics creates certainty in the mind but produces no love in the heart. I’ve seen so many heated arguments of an apologetics nature. I bet you have too. And the heat in those arguments is more like the anger in a fist fight, hockey game, or NFL game, than the love of Jesus Christ for humanity. When I read the first 3 encyclicals of Pope Benedict XVI, I see a pastor trying to get his flock to experience the living Christ in their heart and not just in their head, and to share the Christ of the Heart with their friends, family, co-worker and neighbors. Apologetics, to me, is what St. Augustine called “libido dominandi” (the desire to dominate). Apologetics, to me, is just politics and Culture War under another name. Jesus Christ called no one to politics or a Culture War. He called people to preaching the Good News, and healing souls and bodies. That is what He did. Though he answered questions from the public, he really didn’t argue. He was nothing like a Greco-Roman philosopher. His preaching featured parables, prophecies, sayings, and other stories, any of which did not make immediate sense to the listeners. He told stories, though, for free. His life itself is The Story. Jesus dined and talked with sinners. He developed relationships. He got involved with situations, such as the woman caught in adultery, or the
    Samaritan woman at the well, or the situation when the daughter of Jarius died, or when his dear friend Lazarus died (Jesus wept, as you know). Sinners (like me) are converted by Stories, by Relationships, by Talking from the Heart to the Heart, by tears, real tears. That’s what I see, anyway. I never listen to apologetics on the radio anymore. It just seems sad to me, like boxing matches, like political candidates for office having a debate, like elementary school kids arguing over who kicked whom first. Today’s vast need for Catholic apologetics is a reflection of the preaching and teaching Catholics are getting in many parishes, schools and colleges, or so I think. It is also a reflection of the way combat -like politics, combat-like sports games, and combat-like computer games have come to dominate our culture (similar to the way violence-as-entertainment was a big part of the declining days of the Roman Empire)

  7. But I do hope you quickly find a good job of the sort you will enjoy and which will enable you to have a good career, have a family, and so on. Best wishes.

You might try giving Catholic Answers a call and asking for their advice.

I don’t know that there’s any surefire way to make your livelihood from full-time apologetics work. Catholic Answers is probably the only place I know of that actually staffs “Catholic apologists”.

The best way I could think of would be to keep writing and speaking and promoting yourself.

Get a website (jeffgo.com ;)). Start reaching out to nearby parishes about holding a “Crash Course in Apologetics” seminar. Have evaluations available so that you can (with permission) use some of their feedback for your promotional material and on your website. (“I’ve been a Catholic for 50 years, but Jeffgo opened up a whole new world of understanding my faith!” - John Q., St. Mary Church).

Submit articles to various Catholic publications, both in print and online. Don’t get discouraged if you get rejected the first few (dozen) times. Be persistent.

Basically, you would set yourself up as sort of a freelance writer/speaker. That’s pretty much the only way I can think of to (potentially) make a living doing apologetics work. Once you make a name for yourself, you could start up a non-profit Catholic apologetics apostolate. But you’d have to find some area of ministry to focus on to distinguish yourself from places like Catholic Answers that are doing apologetics work.

If you just want to work for the Church, there are plenty of other options in the field of catechetics. Apologetics is helpful in catechetics, but is not the focus.

A masters or doctorate in theology is helpful, but not required. Do Karl Keating, Jimmy Akin, or Mike Aquilina have any such degrees? I couldn’t find reference to such in any of their bios.

I have read quite a bit about the career of one man who went from a career totally unrelated to apologetics, to a full-time career in apologetics in a pretty short span of time.

You probably know about him too.

His name is Lee Strobel. He’s an Evangelical.

He was trained as a lawyer, but was working as a journalist, reporting on legal matters for a major Chicago newspaper.

Then he became a Christian, and wrote a famous apologetics book called The Case For Christ. Or maybe he became a Christian while writing it. I’m not sure.

His book became a bestseller.

Later, he became an associate pastor at a big megachurch.

Another famous ap0logetics book is Rome Sweet Home, by Dr. Scott Hahn. You know all about him of course. He was a Presbyterian pastor and part-time seminary professor who converted to the Catholic Faith.

His book too became a bestseller.

There is also the case Joseph Pearce. He has no college degree at all, yet he is now an instructor or a professor at Ave Maria University. How’d he do it? First, he converted from being a major racist writer and leader, to being a Catholic. Then he began to write pro-Catholic books that got published by major secular and Catholic publishing companies, and which sold reasonably well.

To me, a key for you would be to write a book about the Catholic Faith that has a reasonable chance of getting published by a major Catholic book publisher (e.g., Our Sunday Visitor; Ignatius Press; etc.). That would help launch a career as a person who promotes the Catholic faith.

I think you perhaps should broaden your approach beyond apologetics. As I see it, you aim is to lead people to the Catholic faith, and to sustain and enrich those already in the Catholic faith. As such, your book writing, article writing, blog writing, speech making, radio appearances, etc., could and should go beyond what is typically called apologetics. Your subject really is the broader thing called evangelization. That’s what I think. Apologetics, as you know, is a subset within evangelization.

The Vatican, and the various Catholic dioceses around the USA and the world have no offices or departments dedicated to apologetics. Not as far as I know.

But they DO all have offices and STAFF dedicated promoting what is now being called the “New Evangelization.” That is perhaps a path for you to consider. The pope and the bishops rarely if ever talk about apologetics, or use that term. But they can’t stop talking about the “New Evangelization.” My diocese recently hired a lay person from another state to head up its New Evangelization program.

I advise you to write a book that has the potential to attract a large base of buyers.

Personal memoirs ab0ut conversion will not generally attract buyers unless there is something really unique about the person’s story.

In Dr. Scott Hahn’s case, he had the unique situation of being an ordained Presbyterian and professor at a Presbyterian seminary who converted to the Catholic Faith after much research and study and debate.

Lee Strobel had the unique facts of being a graduate of Yale Law School, and being a successful journalist at a major newspaper. His book isn’t even really mostly about his conversion. His book is his interviews with Christian professors about challenges skeptics make regarding the reality of God and the Christian faith.

Joseph Pearce was an ex-skinhead and major racist leader and publisher who went to prison for his racism.

I’m just saying that you need to conceive of a book that will attract attention. If no company publishes it, or if no one buys it, it won’t help launch a career in promoting the Catholic Faith.

If you could find a way to write a book some interesting aspect of the thought or life of Pope Benedict XVI, that would be good. Among Catholics, books about the current pope tend to sell well.

For example, you could write a book showing, from Pope Benedict’s writings and speeches, that the appears to be a mystic, or to favor the approach to spirituality favored by Catholic mystics. As far as I know, no author has yet written such a book.

Good luck to you!

If I were your spiritual director, I would advise you to get a job using your environmental science degree while you are developing your career in Catholic evangelization/apologetics.

Have you applied for the various state agencies in your state that deal with conservation, environmental protection, waste, land usage, state parks, state forests, health, safety, etc.

Getting hired by the federal government is pretty hard. But not so with state government. I’ve been hired by them twice!

Thanks for the advice. I think my plan as of now is to get a job in the environmental field, continue working on my book, and do whatever apologetic/evangelization work I can on a volunteer basis at the parish level until a more concrete opportunity presents itself.

Since you feel that you want to do something in the Catholic Church professionally, have you considered a vocation? You are young and I can’t remember if you mentioned any dependents are not. Just a thought.

Neden

There are very few (if any) Catholic apologists who will talk about Constantine. Develop a talk or some CD’s or programming about Constantine, and that’s your ace in the hole right there. You have no idea how many Protestants believe Constantine started the Catholic church and yet, it’s a “taboo” topic among so many apologists. If nobody else will touch Constantine and you take the lead, you’ll be the “go-to” guy and that could be quite profitable. Develop a niche apologetics market - I still see a lot of untapped subject areas.

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