Ironically, this cult of the specialist has arguably been enhanced by some of the attempts to dethrone it. Take those strands of postmodernism that sought to expose truth claims and specialist guilds as masks for power bids and manipulation. On one level, such criticism often had a certain validity to it: experts can sometimes operate as little more than a playground bully with PhDs, using qualifications and institutions to throw their weight around willy-nilly; but at another level, the postmodern critics were vulnerable to two obvious criticisms. First, perhaps more than anyone else, they developed their own highly technical vocabulary and barbaric prose style which served to do little more than obfuscate and confuse those outside the circle of the illuminati and keep themselves beyond the type of critical scrutiny to which they so mercilessly subjected others. Second, in relativising everything, they ironically left everything exactly where it had been before: the people in charge were still in charge, since relativism provides no solid foundation for revolutionary change.
The implications of all this -- the cult of the specialist, enhanced as it is in an ironic twist by postmodern impotence and intensified by the deluge of information and the pressure to publish in academic circles -- poses an acute problem to the church: how can we respond? My belief is that part of that response needs to be the reassertion of the importance of the generalist, both in the church and in the seminary. One does not necessarily have to be a Milanese fashion designer to see that someone in the street is badly dressed, or even completely naked.