Wednesday, September 22, 2004

First Day of School

Yesterday was my first day of school; or rather, "Welcome Week", which turned out to be a weeks' worth of activities crammed into one veeery long day.

At breakfast I met a woman who is middle-aged and getting her MDiv because she feels called to being a pastor. She is already a speech therapist, and seems happy with her work. It makes me wonder how many people are still stuck in the false belief that the only way their vocation can honor God is if it is in full-time church work? It seems to me that speech therapy--freeing people's voices--is incredibly important, life-affirming, God-honoring work.

She seemed to really enjoy the next sessions, laughing and singing. She enjoyed them a little too much for my taste. The jokes were not really funny. The music wasn't that great. I'm not trying to be the cynic, but I do believe in being critical of what is set before me. Just because it has the label "Christian" on it does not make it good (just look at our president).

I personally was pretty bored. My music biases will come through loud and clear in this blog so I may as well say right now that I hate "praise" music: that is, church music that is created to sound like soft pop (and is about as deep). My usual pet peeves were being pricked all over: the music didn't seem to fit in properly at the points it was sung in the service, the singers were showing off their voices, the instruments were too loud and not conducive to a worshipful atmosphere. And Etc. So I'm always already a little pissy when I walk into something and there are guitars at the front of the room waiting to be played ever-so-meaningfully.

It was encouraging to see that they had a piano and a violin. I can only pray that they will drop the rest of the band. Actually, I shouldn't pray - I should get on the committee that makes these decisions. Action is the word, not manipulation, not just hoping for things to go my way. That's so womanly, isn't it? To rely on someone else to do something because of our passive-aggressive hinting, complaining or threatening. No! If I want something, I'm going to do it myself.

But I am way off subject. Let's see....waiting in line for lunch I met a man who attends St. James in Newport Beach. "Ah," I said, "the church that broke from the Union" (meaning the Anglican Communion). "Yes!" he replied proudly. "And how do you feel about that?" I asked. "Well, it was their only choice," he responded, with particular emphasis on the word "only". Unfortunately we were interrupted before I could ask him why the option to wait for the findings of the Archbishop's Lambeth committee (which is currently working on the "gay issue") wasn't considered.

We Anglicans, our whole thing is that we worship in communion. We don't agree on much else except the articles of the Nicene creed. And that is okay! The important thing is that we stick together. And in my opinion, God's command that we love one another (eg the Church be unified) trumps most anything else. Oh, I think that was Jesus' opinion too. If I'm reading the Golden Rule correctly.

Leaving that depressing conversation (although I look forward to getting into it with the conservatives on the "gay issue"), I sat myself at a table for lunch with a female professor whose work I admire and another female student. The three of us spent most of the lunch talking about ways to invigorate the women on campus, honor those who made strides before us, and take it all to the next level. It was postively wonderful. I look forward to working with the campus Women's Concerns Committee. What a great thing that they have a Women's Concerns Committee (and that it is a separate thing from the Wives' Support Group--HA! And hey, where is the Husbands' Support Group?).

Throughout the day, I kept meeting women who were doing MA's in Theology (not as rigorous as the MDiv) who said I was "brave" for tackling my degree. And all I'm thinking is that the men I've met doing this degree are mostly not rocket scientists (some seem barely communicative). Why is it that any old man, dumb as a post, feels just fine getting himself and MDiv, but bright, vital women fret and worry and wonder if they are good enough? Does it go back to Barbie stating "Math class is tough"?

The women I met in the MDiv track were, for the most part, sure of themselves, their call, and their future. And many of them, to my surprise, said they want to be pastors. Good for them!

I can't wait to get into class. I have a feeling that it will be the students, not professors, who will be the most combative on these issues. Of course, my first class is Greek. Probably won't be too much rousing debate in there.

Oh, one more thing: during his address to the students, the President of the school talked about the advances the school has made since its first class of 47 white north american men graduated in 1947. He ticked off a list of groups that the seminary has opened up to, and concluded with this: "Praise the Lord, now we have TWO genders!"

I led the applause.

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