Monday, November 15, 2010
So You Want to Go to Seminary?
I don't know whether to laugh or cry when watching this video...there are parts of it that ring so true it hurts. Yet, it is also good to laugh at the truths found here.
While I didn't learn how to ice fish in my first appointment after seminary, I did learn how to hay and the reason why one really does "make hay while the sun shines." I, along with all the women in my ordination class, served in churches on the periphery of our annual conference. We prepared for ministry in places like Berkeley and New York City, but we were appointed to the outlying, rural communities of our otherwise urban conference.
So much of what we learned in seminary was light years away from what the folks in the pew knew (or wanted to know). Looking back at my early years of ministry, I realize that seminary needed to do a better job of teaching us to be translators--it was difficult to take what we learned in seminary (feminist/liberation/queer/post-colonial theology) and utilize it in an effective way in the parish.
I loved what I learned in seminary, I really did. The worlds and words that seminary introduced me to remain central in my theology and sustain me spiritually to this day. But there is a curious disconnect between seminary education and ministry. I will never forget being invited to lecture to a seminary class about parish ministry and having the professor interrupt me and tell the class, "I could never be a parish minister. I really don't care what color the drapes are in the church."
What a curious vocation we are called to! I don't care what color the drapes are either, but I do care about how God's people talk to each other about what color the drapes are. I care about the ways children can discover they are precious in God's sight. I care about how social systems too often crush the spirit of God's people. I care about how worship can help us see the reflection of God within us more clearly or can distort it and make us even doubt it.
Seminary set me off on a vocational course I couldn't even imagine. Many still scratch their heads and wonder what in God's name we (especially we women) do there. For me and for many, seminary was the first step of a great adventure in loving God and caring for God's people that I wouldn't trade for the world.