In talking with Learner, you might wonder just what exactly he hopes to accomplish by being at seminary. While a Christian and (thus also) a believer in the Church, he is hardly a “company man” from the perspective of most things denominational (which denomination that is, well…perhaps later). While he loves God and the Church, they are not equals in Learner’s mind and, if forced to choose, he would choose the former over the latter (which, of course, is the right answer, but as it’s a “straw man” question, let’s just be glad such a choice really doesn’t demand to be made).
From an academic perspective, Learner is not (nor has he ever been) your most brilliant of students; in college (a place where he was still very much learning to “apply himself” as they say), he was a solid B/C student. Though many may think of seminary as nothing more than a religious education (and perhaps this was his mistake as well), it is graduate-level work. As the seminary is (by most evaluations) a good, accredited school, Learner has been a bit overwhelmed at the idea of what lies ahead. Two weeks, he says, has felt like two years, but it’s only been one class (granted, a language) in the summer! From my vantage point, this could be a long road to hoe.
If you were to talk with Learner, you would probably come away with a very vague yet real sense of destiny in his description of who he is and what his hopes for this time are. The thing I appreciate most about him is the mix of hope and realism he constantly holds in tension. In most people, one of the two eventually overwhelms the other, but not with Learner; as long as I’ve known him (which has been for more than several years now), he has refused to relinquish neither his dreams nor his duties. While this can be exhausting for those of us around him, it can be inspiring at times as well.