Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Interesting Experiences

Last November I was at the National Youth Worker's Convention, listening to Duffy Robbins lecture.  The last thing he said was, "Walt Mueller and I are starting a Doctor of Ministry program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Ministry to Emerging Generations beginning next summer.  I have a voucher here that will waive your application fee."  I forgot to use the voucher, but I spent the next few weeks pitching the idea to my pastor and others, and getting the blessing of those whose blessings I needed so that I could apply to the program.  Last February I learned that I had been admitted.  I've been preparing for our first cohort ever since.  And now I'm here.  In Peabody, MA. Commuting every morning up 1A to Hamilton where I sit in class for eight hours a day.

I've been all over the map emotionally.  I knew going in that Gordon-Conwell is part of the Reformed tradition, and that most of the people here would likely come from different theological backgrounds than I.  Sometimes that realization gave me pause and sometimes I didn't give it a second thought, but last night I took a long pause.  I was just uneasy about my milieu here.  I'm one of the few that identifies with a denomination at all.  When my peers reference theologians, they use names with which I am wholly unfamiliar.  Some of them come from churches that would never consider ordaining a woman or letting her preach.  But they have all been so gracious and kind.  Last night, though, after a discussion in the latter part of yesterday's lecture, I didn't feel so good.

So this morning I cornered Duffy at breakfast and asked him if I was in the right place.  We had a good talk, and I came away feeling much better.  I drove up to campus by myself so I would have more time to process my thoughts, and by the time I got into the classroom I was fine.

The day ended up being pretty phenomenal.  We did a lot of talking about postmodernism, which was very interesting.  I can remember being in classes in both undergrad and graduate and feeling like I had nothing worthwhile to add to the conversation, and that my questions were stupid.  And I would certainly never push back against something that one of my professors said.  Today I discovered that I'm not that person anymore, and it was pretty liberating.  In fact, I had to keep telling myself to keep my mouth shut and let other people talk.  I've never had that experience in a classroom before.

For the rest of the week we'll be Skyping in authors of books that we've read and that will be interesting.  Most of us in the class had visceral reactions to some of the texts.  Tomorrow could get pretty heated.

But tonight the sun came out and most of us went up to Rockport, MA to have dinner on the water.  I felt at home with my classmates, felt accepted by them, and certainly felt gracious toward them.

I think this is OK.

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