In a stunning turn of events whose deeper meaning even I am still struggling to discern, I just finished my first week at seminary where I am taking courses which line me up to earn a Masters of Divinity, with a major in theology. Smile, people. I am.
I don’t really have time to be writing for free at the moment, but I just feel like sharing some observations about this new journey.
First, this news should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. I love talking/thinking/studying Christianity and theology. It only makes sense that I’d end up doing it in a formal school.
Second, I can now pronounce and write the Koine Greek alphabet in upper and lowercase.
Third, did I mention I can’t stop smiling? Here’s why. I was late to the orientation where the few other theology majors were chatting with the department heads. When it came time for questions, I asked, “So. Say a person doesn’t really know what theology is. How would you explain it?” My heart was pounding. I didn’t have time to add/drop courses etc, and so I didn’t want to discover that I was in the wrong room. Yet I had to ask the question. When he began to answer I played it cool and listened, though I am sure my eyes had a sparkle. When he stopped, I couldn’t suppress my excitement any longer. Boom. Huge smile. I was in the right place. I said, “You just made me happy.” The two professors couldn’t believe it. Ha. They chuckled and said, “We don’t usually hear students say that…” B, for one of my courses, I have to write a book report on a book called War in the Bible and Terrorism is the 21st Century. Knowing my own stance on war, post military service which included combat, I couldn’t help but feel like I just showed up to an all you can eat pizza buffet and discovered that there was also a dessert buffet. Read and write about whether “love your enemy” stops somewhere short of unless they’re building nukes? Yes sir. I’ll take another piece. And some ice cream.
Fourth, what this really boils down to is “I want to know what I believe.” I just want to know.
Fifth, as I’ve shared what type of Masters program I’m in with non-believers, I have chuckled nearly every time upon the discovery that while I’m the one attending, they seem to know more about my future as they say, “You want to be a preacher?” Ha. I have no idea. I just want to learn for now. It’s funny that learning as a virtue is totally gone. If there is no professional monetary endgame, then people become confused. “Why are you going then?” (Naturally, at this point I have to insist it’s to get in to heaven.)
Sixth, I cannot describe the feeling I get while on campus. Forget Jesus (forgive me Jesus), forget God (ditto), forget theology, forget the Bible (I’m really going to hell now), forget Christianity. Forget it all, and the place is still shocking. Unlike all the jobs and co-workers I’ve had, unlike the folks that constitute my beloved Toastmasters club, unlike those who attended my Mark Twain Listening Club, the seminary is a place filled with people who honestly want to make the world better. They’re not selling t-shirts, they’re not handing out business cards, they don’t have a desperation in their voice about closing the sale, they’re not trying to get the upper-hand in the conversation, they just have come to a place in their lives where they see service to others as their mission and want to do it in an as informed a way as possible. The campus, the offices, the classrooms, the chapel, the coffee shop, it’s just oozing with heart.
Seventh, I will not become a robot. One ex-mormon blogger-friend comes to mind now and I can hear her disdain at this news already. Allow me to rebut. Whatever other seminary’s exist, and what goes on behind their closed doors, I don’t know. So far this one is not a brain washing factory. So far the professors are classic professors. They are extremely well-read (and traveled), they are decent public speakers, they challenge commonly accepted beliefs and paradigms, and they have adorable quirks that can only be developed after years of standing at the front of a classroom and of which they are unaware. Let it be known: If anything gets weird, I’ll share it. And then I’ll definitely stay in the program. Undercover student in a cult indoctrination? That job is almost cooler than actually believing I might be able to learn how best to actively glorify God and perhaps be on the contributor side of the equation that might lead to a pagan experiencing the joyful spiritual transformation that occurs after accepting Jesus as his/her personal savior. You might call that a win-win situation.
Eighth, one of my first devil’s advocate questions to any heathen reader right now is this: “Do you believe human beings possess the parts/capability to discern that a leader is speaking from (brace yourself) God?” Put another way, is it possible for me to convince you that I honestly believe (as a reasonable, sane citizen) that leader So-and-So’s ideas/rhetoric/vision/plan/mission transcends generally accepted scientific knowledge? That they are acting as an agent of some unnamed ultimate reality? Or will you always label me a “sucker” or “delusional”? Why or why not?
Ninth, on a wholly un-theological note, I think God might have messed up. As H- gets older and older it is becoming clear that she is supposed to be the daughter of a blind couple. Does anyone else’s kid announce every single thing they do? “I’m walking. I’m putting on my shoes. I’m jumping. I’m playing. I’m swimming. I’m dancing. I’m raising my hand.” Yeah, H-, I get it. I’m right next to you and can see what you’re doing. These eyes aren’t just for show. Shyat!