Doctor of Thinkology

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12)

"The Thinker" from
“The Thinker” from

Most of us have attended meetings, conferences or retreats where we’re asked to “Describe yourself in ten-words or less,” or “Pick five words that sum up your personality,” or “Write a one-paragraph summary of how you think others see you,” or “Imagine you are being eulogized at a memorial service, what are five things people would say about you?”

It’s a useful exercise, and thinking that way can get our attention in a hurry, especially if we perceive incongruence between what we’d like to be true about ourselves and what really is.

As a writer with an emerging public profile, it’s instructive to pay attention to how I am described by other people. Some places (church groups, conference organizers, retreat centers, web-sites) simply cut and paste a standard biography, a paragraph or two they found somewhere else. Others write up an introduction based on personal experience, having read me, met me, or heard me before. Then – and these are the best – I sometimes run across a review written after an event is over.

StorytellerpicJOYFUL CHRISTIAN: Two such descriptions stand out in my mind. The first was on a church sign, and read, simply, “Come hear Derek Maul. Author, Storyteller.” I loved that one. Then, just this past month, a church newsletter review reported on a men’s retreat “Led by author, speaker, thinker, and joyful Christian Derek Maul.”

  • “Author; Storyteller.”
  • “Author, speaker, thinker, and Joyful Christian.”

To be described as a “Joyful Christian” is beyond encouraging. It means that – for those folk – I actually represented my foundational premise of “real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of,” and “The life that is truly life.”

Then, the moniker “THINKER,” has given me pause. The designation brings to mind the medieval role of “A Contemplative,” meaning someone whose engagement with life is defined in terms of contemplation. I’d love to be experienced as someone who has a faith and a way of living that is thoughtful rather than reactive.

It’s good to be a  “Thinking Christian;” this world needs more people of faith who are committed to contemplation. But it would be a mistake to confuse thinking with a sense of need to either conjure up tidy answers or dismiss faith when reason appears to be on the ropes.

DR. OF THINKOLOGY: I am happy to be perceived as a “Thinker,” and I’m even happier that it came in the same sentence as “Joyful Christian.” But I don’t think I’m ready to be conferred the tittle (See Wizard of Oz) “Doctor of Thinkology.”

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to try to live the words of Paul: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” – DEREK 

Live Like You Mean It The Life That Truly is Life The Life-Charged Life

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Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at, and there’s always something new in the works.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.

Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.

7 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Problem is that faith requires,if not demands, suspension of reason and common sense..


    -We all know that virgins dont give birth…not really. especially 2,000 years ago.
    -We all know people dont come back from the dead…not really…and certianly not after being dead for 3 days.
    -We all know that people cant raise the dead…
    -We all know if a person was to step into water deeper than the person is tall they will sink until they displace enough water to float – people dont really walk on water.

    There has never been a single PROVABLE instance of these things occuring. Yet, otherwise intellegent people will set aside thier most basic common sense
    and even try to convince others of things that simply cant happen.

    Here again I give you a quote from one of the early fathers of the church:

    Reason is the Devils harlot, who can do naught but slander and harm whatever God says and does.
    -Martin Luther


    • I think Luther’s point (and he was an extremely “in your face” kind of a guy) was that when we rely on reason alone to understand the universe and our place in it, then we are immediately limiting the scope of the conversation. So much that’s meaningful and real in my life has happened – and is happening – outside the jurisdiction of mere reason.


      • That’s not what he said. Luther doesn’t even hint about limiting the scope of conversation. Your interpretation is apologetic.

        What he said was reason undermines God. Reason is the Devil and thus anti-God. Why else was the Roman Catholic Church so opposed to reasonable thought? It undermined God. It proved the Church was wrong about so many things.


      • Short break here from a long day of killing-heat yardwork…. I was actually commenting on Luther from a fairly comprehensive understanding of his work, and Reformation thought in general. Luther was an enthusiastically thoughtful and reason-able man; but he also had a clear understanding of the limitations of rational thought when it comes to making sense of the universe, faith, and God. I’d love to have him at the table for coffee and a conversation!


      • Yard Work!!

        Brother…id like to see a yard right about now!

        about 45 more days till I get off this prison ship. Worse vessel Ive ever been on
        Id like to have ML over too, honestly

        If you could choose one person from history, who would you have?



      • Sorry your ship is on the rough end of the scale. Is the food at least good?
        Hmmm, who from history? I’ll exclude Jesus because he’s an “obvious.” So I’m thinking Lincoln would be quite the conversation… or maybe Da Vinci – such a genius in many areas. Jefferson would be cool (he could set things straight about the supposed “evangelical faith” of the founders!). Still thinking… I might settle for Ben Franklin. But I’ll think more about this and let you know.
        Peace – DEREK


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