I've been a little hesitant to write about seminary, because, honestly it's been going so well and I felt bad, because I knew Cait was having a hard time. That's been one of the biggest challenges so far, for sure, Cait staying home full time for the first time. I was even hesitant about coming at all, because I didn't want it to seem, or be, that I gave Cait her little chance at school, and now it is time to get serious about my career. Hopefully, the reality is that we are simply continuing to share time at home and time away from home, shifting roles more or less smoothly as we look for good opportunities for our family. But now Cait is in a better place, she has a job, she's making friends, so I can now feel better about talking about seminary.
I am having a great time. Yes, I am sick of talking about the trinity. No, I'm not a huge fan of Calvin. But I am still having a great time. I am almost always excited to go to school, which was rarely true during my undergrad. I love the commute just walking across a bridge to get to school. I love the quality of the discussion in almost all my classes. I am finding some great activities and groups to be a part of here. And most of all, I've found some really great friends.
The biggest part of my choosing to go to seminary here in Austin over Starr King in Berkeley was how much cheaper it was going to be here. The second biggest part though, was the community that they seemed to have here. I saw part of it when I came out here for discovery weekend, both in the students that were in school and the people who were with me during the weekend. These are my kind of people. Some are very much like me in terms of personality, politics, sense of humor, and--dare I say it--religion. But others are not. What we all have in common, though, is that we are interested in getting at the big questions, and doing so in community.
Cait has asked me a few times why I am so happy here. It's been hard to pin down exactly, but I think I've got it: I feel authentic. I've had good friends before and a stimulating intellectual environment before. And I do spend a lot of my time on ideas that aren't really important or moving to me, like trinity or scriptural inerrancy. But amid all that, there is plenty of room to be myself, to have my voice heard, respected and even, at times, sought out. I was steeped in the bible and religion enough growing up to have something to say on most topics, and my faith journey has taken me on enough twists that I can sometimes have a meaningfully different opinion on some issues.
The balance has been tough though. I don't believe in God, but I believe that the concept of God is a very important placeholder for or conception of a lot of really important ideas of eternity, creation, sacredness, interrelation, etc. And I am certainly not out to take down anyone else's belief in God. So I have to be careful about being respectful of the common language that we are using to speak of things, and still being honest about what I believe. Mostly I do this by asking questions, not making statements, especially in class and saving my own statements of faith, or lack thereof, for safer or more open spaces.
Here at seminary, I don't have to be constantly justifying my fascination with religious topics to irreligious people or my lack of firm beliefs to firmly religious people. There's a definite recognition and respect for the religious journey of each person.
As far as the day to day goes, I now split my time between working as one of three assistants to the faculty, doing secretarial work (with a good amount of time left over for homework) and my four classes (Hebrew, Old Testament, Church History and Theology). To be honest, it doesn't feel all that different from BYU, when, with my Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic degree, my semesters were often full of classes of language and religion, whether on Islam or Mormon topics. They are easing us into the academic rigor of the program with shorter papers and traditional tests this first year. The papers will get longer and more frequent and the tests will disappear, as far as I understand it, in the next year. I am on a couple of committees, including the Library committee, the Corpus Christi eco-justice team, and a member of the Queer Alliance. Cait and I are also taking a sex ed class from one of our OWL-certified fellow seminarians, which has been great.The rest of my times is hanging out with the kids, doing the dishes and trying to convince my fellow seminarians to come over and watch netflix shows with us or going to one of the local hangouts with them after classes.
|Helping lead the Blessing of the Animal Service with Corpus Christi|
Right now we are on a week of fall break, which is awesome, after having finished most of our midterms, including a couple of papers. So I am resetting for the rest of the semester, trying to get ahead on some of the readings again and thinking about final papers. Classes here only run until the Monday after Thanksgiving, so the semester will be wrapping up before we know it.
|Study desk with books|
There's lots more I could say about seminary, obviously, and I probably will. But I wanted to get this first post out of the way, so that at least I've said something. Come down and visit, we've got an office/spare bedroom that is quite cozy.
|First day of school|