Culture, Faith, Spirituality — July 24, 2012 10:30 am

50 things I learned in Seminary pt.1

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I graduated from Seminary in December 2011. This was one of the most formative times of my life. I entered into it with the goal of being open and not relying on previous learned knowledge or experience. I wanted to try and truly learn. It was a simultaneously an extremely frustrating and enriching experience. I want to list out some of the things I learned. Some of the things I encountered were controversial, some were boring and others I ate. This is a good example of how I now approach the world in list form. Enjoy.

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Gender Inclusive Language

It was a requirement in seminary to use Gender inclusive language. This meant instead of using “mankind” it is more appropriate to use “humankind” because that is simply better. It is thoughtful of a gender that for far too long has been over looked and forced to the background. It doesn’t change things or mean anything other than your a considerate person.

Liberation Theology

I grew up a white, middle class, man. I had no reason to ever feel a need to be liberated from a situation (Except maybe, liberated from the clutches Abercrombie had on me from 7th to 10th grade). But, a significant portion of the world population does and being introduced to men and women who write on the topic, Gustavo Gutierrez, James Cone or Rosemary Radford Ruether. Their insight enlightens the gospels as well as the Old Testment with a perspective I could not and wouldn’t have come to on my own. It is through these voices that the Bible has taken on new life that is rich.

Universalism

Rob Bell kind of made this famous. His book Love Wins made the idea popular, but he never really came right out and said that he was a universalist. He just said something along the lines of, “Shouldn’t we want it to be true?” and that is something I can get on board with. It is something that I desperately want to be true, really I just need a slight nudge before I get this idea tattooed on my chest. The more I understand about this idea and the more I read the Bible with this in mind, I believe that this idea to be true. To be fair, my perspective is something aligned with Evangelical Universalism but regardless, I want heaven to be a huge House Party and for that to happen Kid and Play have to be there.

The Internet

Ok, I didn’t learn about the internet in Seminary, because that’s crazy. But, I really discovered my love for all things world wide web. I discovered while in really boring theology classes talking about the transcendence of  blah blah blah…I’m bored again. Anyway, in an attempt to keep some focus in class I found myself searching for interesting things to read and look at. This time was important because it is a real life example of Theology and culture mixing. Hearing professors talk about eschatology and reading about the Kanye album, that will really do something to you.

Marshall McLuhan

He’s not a theologian per say, but he sure was a prophet. Mcluhan was a philosopher, literary critic, educator and communication theorist, who basically predicted the rise of internet culture. His most famous book and quote being The Medium is Message discusses what we interact with all day. How it is we are given information is the information itself. This idea is incredibly prevalent today. He also referred to rise of the technological age and it’s compartmentalization as the “global village.” With an even deeper connectivity we are even more fragmented, i.e. facebook. Creepy right? I know.

That I’m liberal

I just am. I think I knew this for a long time. I attended a fairly conservative bible college in my undergraduate and I always felt a little on the outside. I remember talking to a college professor about my perspective on a particular Old Testament passage and he stopped the conversation and said, “Interesting point, we need more liberal Christians.” It wasn’t until much later that I realized that I did view things that way and that it was OK. Here are some “liberal” and kinda “liberal” writers that you should check out; Thomas Altizer, Harvey Cox, Joel Green, Stanley Hauerwas and Cornel West.

Avocados/guacamole

Seriously, have you guys had this stuff? Growing up on the East Coast I was always a little inimidated by the stuff. It was green and had a weird consistency. All it took was a cross country trip for me to ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE STUFF! Holy crap I want it on everything; eggs, sandwiches, my bath time. I could write a post entitled, “50 things I love about Guacamole”

Patience at bad theology

If I learned anything in Seminary it is that I have no idea what I am talking about. Sure, I have 2 years and the school debt that says I have a master’s degree in theology but, truly this is just a beginning trip into this world of theology. My time in seminary taught me a certain level of patience with men and women who have not had the luxury of higher theological education. It is a privilege that I have been afforded and maintaining an open dialogue with a topic like Theology is extremely important.

Anger at bad theology

All that said, It is getting increasingly more difficult to dialogue with really bad theology. Some people have read a few key books and that’s it. They have made their decision and no one is going to change their mind. This is not helpful and really irritating. It takes a lot to make me mad, but a theology that is poorly constructed and doesn’t not take into account people will really get me going.

That I may have to take a back seat

Louis CK has a bit where he says that as a white man he could go back in time and at any point be just fine. That is not the case for everyone. White male privilege is something that should be dismantled and a way for that to happen is for white men to recognize this and to encourage and create situations where diversity is a high priority. A real life example is that the President of Fuller Theological Seminary is retiring. As a leading seminary it would be an exciting turn to see someone that is not a white man leading the institution. We’ll see what happens.

The shema

 Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love theLord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

 

 

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2 Comments

  • Could you expound on what you mean by Evangelical Universalism?

    • From my understanding the difference here is that Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection is what saves humankind. Whereas Universalism would say that all paths will lead to God (or Nirvana or Enlightenment, whatever it may be) Evangelical Universalism would say that the God of the Bible through Jesus Christ will eventually melt every heart (to use a Rob Bell-ism). That Christ will be “all in all.”

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