I’m not supposed to hate seminary. I’m not supposed to hate the Church. And damnit, I am not supposed to be near tears thinking about my fellow classmates at Fuller and their…immaturity, lack of respect and downright absence of character. (Do I exclude myself from this mix? Not at all.) I’ll be wholeheartedly honest. Some day the Church is going to recognize that we are no different than social clubs and fraternities scattered across America. Our secret initiation is baptism, and our chants are hymns and praise songs. We tell our members how to dress, and it changes depending on the type of club you join. We have ceremonies when people move beyond the club; they call it a funeral (or excommunication, depending on the stringency of your club!) But are we any different from the rest of the world? Seriously? HECK NO.
I hear stories about things at Fuller lately that just, well, they leave me near tears (or in the case of this evening/morning, in tears). I’m brought back to the memory of last winter quarter in chapel a week or two after New Years, where we had the opportunity in small sections to walk up to the cross and kneel, offering up our hurt, joy and pain. There’s something mysteriously magnificent about silence with God, in the presence of a community. Well in the midst of that mo(u)rning, I thought about all the crap that I was well aware others in the community struggled with, even at some superficial level. And I wondered where they would eventually lead us from that chapel. Turns out it was the end of the road. No more honesty or sincerity within our farcical community.
Instead I hear about people making propositions to others about making out, getting drunk, letting loose, etc., just because. Oh, and you’re a girl, so you can’t be president of anything. You’re hot, so you’re clearly not in the School of Theology. Yes, here’s a brilliant idea, future pastors and professors of the world. Let’s tell the new students each year which “School”you should look for women as a potential future spouse. Or at least your new secret make-out buddy. If we prep the right people in advance, they’ll be sure not to fall for the lowly second-class females at school. Way to escape that travesty of a decision, wise men.
Oh, church. We judge and do so harshly every damn minute.
We have as much racism, agism, sexism, ethnocentricism, and religio-centrism as the rest of the social clubs in America. We’re like the latest edition of People magazine, except we have a corny title for our magazine, like LightFollowers (hypothetical, I hope). And I’m sure we’ll get everyone in our little niche to conform, because being just like everyone else in the pew is the cool thing to do – it shows were in this together. Let’s make sure seminary is the exact replica of the Church, because we’ll certainly win the others for our new building, err… for God, of course!
The reality is that our school’s faux-community fosters an environment where comparing one another happens at all times. We compare ourselves academically, whether or not we’re a PhD prospective or just getting the MDiv to be a pastor, for instance. We live in southern California, so we better make sure we’re hair straightened, teeth whitened, body pierced, eyebrow plucked, and perfectly primed to find the perfect spouse. Churches send us off to find that match so we can really be the “best” pastor, youth pastor, psychologist, missionary out there – but you can’t legitimately be one unless you get a ring by spring. Duh! It’s like the 11th commandment for Christians.
I’m not advocating not marrying in seminary or not dating. Nor am I claiming that seminary is the 10th circle of hell. (Though the cynicism and pessimism of 4:30 am might be hitting me.) But I truthfully wonder when in the world seminarians will start to live the life that we seemingly beg for upon arrival at said locations.
I am ALL for having fun as a Christian. I am not opposed to responsibly drinking, traveling, concerting, partying. I do not think that we effectively advocate the cause of Christ by hiding ourselves in a little corner and mocking and shunning those “poor non-Christian” people. We’ve relegated not being a Christian to a loser, weakling, sorry-lame-o. Yup, exactly how the very Christ you follow would have treated Zacchaeus…
I have no way to end this… I’ve had it sitting here for forever…