Because life is a series of edits

Archive for February, 2006|Monthly archive page

Random Observations, Part 1

In Thought on February 28, 2006 at 8:38 am

As Learner is entering into the mid-term phase, complete with papers, projects, and exams, I thought I’d share a few of my own observations about life at seminary. As Learner is always so serious most of the time, I thought some humor might be in order.

Random observations (in no particular order or worth):

– There seems to be a rather disproportionate amount of women at seminary named Rebecca.

– Modes of book transportation are as varied as the student body (or bodies). For instance, while Learner purposely uses a black leather bag that only holds his computer, one class binder, and a thin book, other students transport entire libraries back and forth across campus in regulation-size hiking backpacks. I’ve also seen books carried in plastic bags, stuffed in oversized coat pockets, jammed in baby strollers, and transported in the hands of small children while their parents also have their hands full.

– Though they’ll probably preach from Colossians 3:23-24 and other such verses on excellence, these future preachers and pastors sure do leave and walk by a large amount of litter and trash on campus.

– For most seminary students, coffee – not the face of God – is the first thing they seek in the morning.

– The silly rituals and rhetoric of junior high male/female relating are very much alive and well among the seminary’s single population.

– A majority of the professors have noticeably larger-than-average skulls, presumably due to their enormous brains. This fact is especially pronounced when professors get haircuts.

More to come, I’m sure.

Working the Woe

In Thought on February 20, 2006 at 11:47 am

Yesterday, as part of his internship for the seminary, Learner led the first part of his church’s morning worship service, filling in for his friend/internship overseer/associate pastor, who is on a three-week sabbatical to work on his doctorate dissertation.

While Learner has always been comfortable in front of people (and has had plenty of experience being so over the years), this time around was a little different as he was in a suit.

Learner never wears a suit.

To complicate matters, he and Mrs. Learner had quite an argument the evening before that, contrary to good biblical teaching, they let the sun go down (as well as rise) on their anger. Thus, when they picked me up on Sunday morning to ride to church, well, the mood in the van was…tense.

Learner taught Sunday School – his last in a six-week series on multiple generations in church – and then, as he had agreed to the previous week, led the Call to Worship, the first hymn, and prayed an Invocation at the beginning of the service. Mrs. Learner skipped Sunday School altogether (she usually goes to his class when she’s not teaching five-year-olds once a month), and she listened to the service from a private room in the back of the sanctuary, in tears.

Earlier in the week, the two of them realized that this Sunday might be a first glimpse of sorts of what life might be like as a pastor and as a pastor’s wife. Suffice it to say, it was not the most glorious of revelations.

Here is the prayer Learner wrote on Sunday morning (in the middle of the fight) for the Invocation, read immediately after the opening hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”:

“O, God, our Mighty Fortress, our bulwark never failing, we come to you now – each of us wounded from battle, weary from burden, worse for the wear. Thank you for being a refuge for us; for being a respite for us; for being rest for us. Allow us the grace this morning to enter into the Mighty Fortress that is your presence, trusting not in our ability to do so, but trusting only in your invitation to do so.

O, God, if indeed you are our Mighty Fortress, then we have no choice but to seek your protection from our enemy – from your enemy – the evil one, for ‘still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe.’ Truly, God, ‘his craft and power are great,’ but they are not greater than yours. Shield us from his onslaughts and his desires; heal us from the sting of his wounds; and forgive us, God, of our own treasonous tendencies to leave the love of your lordship. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

He can be a poetic one, that Learner.

Now if he just weren’t so much of an ass the rest of the time…

Poetic (Planned?) Parallelism

In Thought on February 16, 2006 at 7:02 pm

Idea from Learner’s reading currently blowing his mind this week:

“…Jesus must have spent time in organizing his teaching and preparing its form, for unless we assume that this poetic parallelism simply popped into his mind on the spur of the moment, we must conclude that Jesus carefully prepared ‘for his classes.’ Perhaps some of the time that he sought to be alone was not only for the purpose of prayer but also to prepare what and how he would teach.”

The Method and Message of Jesus’ Teachings by Robert H. Stein

Valentine’s Day

In Thought on February 14, 2006 at 12:28 pm

Learner said Mrs. Learner fixed heart-shaped pancakes this morning in honor of Valentine’s Day. Apparently, however, the majority of the pancakes were quite crooked in their heart-shapedness, and Learner’s second child thought they looked more like butterflies than hearts and could she have some more syrup?

So much for romance in the morning…

Women at Seminary

In Thought on February 9, 2006 at 5:06 pm

With little exception, there are a healthy handful of women in a majority of Learner’s MDiv classes. Some of these women are pursuing the MDiv degree (foregoing ordination) in order to pursue translation work or other ministry opportunities; others are in programs (counseling, etc.) for which MDiv classes meet needed requirements.

From Learner’s perspective, having women in the classroom is an altogether great thing, though he wishes the ladies would feel the freedom to ask questions, speak up, and feel more a part. His guess is they don’t feel this freedom because they have encountered a few men (students, not professors – they seem very affirming) on campus who would not appreciate them doing so. And that’s sad.

For instance, overheard between classes this week:

“Be careful of women who go to seminary.”


“They either want a man or they want to be one.”

Learner wonders how much Mrs. Learner picks up on this attitude from men while attending her classes. He wonders if any women (mistakenly) pick it up from him. He also wonders why some men are so threatened by women learning.

N.T. Wright’s Take on the Cynic

In Thought on February 6, 2006 at 9:00 pm

The history (and hope) of Learner’s type (the Cynic), as described by N.T. Wright in Jesus and the Victory of God:

“The word ‘Cynic’ itself comes from the Greek kyon, meaning ‘dog’: the Cynics barked at society, snapped at its heels (we must remember that dogs were normally scavengers, not family pets, in the Greco-Roman world), warning people, waking them up, harrying them into thinking differently about their lives…

…the Cynics’ teaching eschewed the complexities of the more serious education of the day, and aimed simply at challenging received opinions, ‘altering the currency’ in the phrase attributed to Diogenes, and advocating a life lived in harmony with nature rather than with the enslavements and immorality that accompany wealth. Freedom, self-sufficiency, and self-control: these were the Cynic’s goals, and almost any means to express them for oneself, or to shock others into seeing their value, was acceptable.”

Learner says he likes N.T. Wright.

Philemon 1:6

In Thought on February 1, 2006 at 4:04 pm

Learner just emailed this verse as a follow-up to my previous post:

“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”