Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Confessions of a seminarian

You might think, being at Bethany Theological Seminary, that I would feel more inspired to think about, and then write about, things relevant to this blog. I can't say that's proven to be false; I probably have at least four ideas a day that interest me enough to write about them. The problem is my ADHD (and generally spaceyness) are so bad that I forget them within minutes. Yet tonight, though none of my past ideas have come jumping back into my head, I feel strangely motivated to write. Possibly because the alternative is actually doing an assigned reading.

In the absence of having anything leaping to the front of my mind for reflection or commentary, I will reflect on my experience as a student at Bethany.

Most of you who know about this blog probably also know about Bethany, but, just in case, it's the Church of the Brethren seminary located in Richmond, Indiana, on the campus of Earlham College (a Quaker school).

I came to seminary almost expecting to hate it. One might question the wisdom of taking a path that is expected to be unpleasant, but I really didn't feel like getting a job, and no other schools seemed to stand out. Besides, the people at Bethany put up with my waiting until July to tell them I'd be starting school here in August.

One might also wonder why someone who was interested enough in Brethrenism and spirituality to start a blog on it expected to hate seminary. I'll say firmly that I have no intention of being a pastor, and I half-expected a seminary, at which most of the students are pursuing their Master of Divinity, to be too ministerial, and frankly too Christian for me.

But I love it here. After just a month, passing judgment may seem premature, but I know when I love a place. The classes I'm in for my M.A. are taught from a sufficiently academic lens that I don't feel like a... whatever I am... in a pastor's academy, but like a student at a school. And while I am surrounded predominantly by MDiv students, I have experienced that environment as enriching rather than limiting. There is an underlying sense of spirituality and religious belonging, as evidenced by our twice-weekly worship services and opening classes with a moment of silence, but I find that to be fulfilling in a way that I can't imagine more secular graduate school would be.

Far be it from me to be a recruiter. I'm too averse to thinking I know what will be good for someone else. But I would certainly recommend young Brethren folks interested in ministry, theology, or even peace studies (like me) at least give Bethany a second glance. You could, like me, startledly find yourself an amazing home where you are supported, challenged, taught, and embraced.

Also, Elizabeth Keller just preached one of the best messages I've ever heard, and if you want to hang out with her, this is the place to be.

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