Friday, September 22, 2006

Inside of Sunday

Because of the intensive nature of these next two years for me at seminary I've wondered if I should change the focus of this blog for awhile. Since I'll be doing a lot of writing for classes and such, instead of practicing my writing here maybe what I'll do is sort of journal my experience at seminary, you know, log some of the things I've learned, experienced, thought of, felt.

This would of course come perilously close to the sort of teenage diary-gone-public that I had hoped to avoid, so maybe I won't do it. On the other hand, how many days go by where I have wished I could have sat down and "debriefed" with my friends and family and otherwise assorted acquaintances and strangers (as in a coffee shop)?

I've often thought of this two year hiatus of ours in po-dunk Saskatchewan, cloistered into a small Christian community, as a retreat of sorts. Call it a Sabbath. Call it a time of monasticism. Call it escaping into a bubble. I don't care what you call it, it is what it is, and I'm looking at it as one big Sunday. If my life is a month, this is one of my Sundays. Whereas this blog was meant to be a place for me to think out loud about Christianity in the workaday world, this side of sunday, I suppose for a time it might be appropriate for the blog to now go inside Sunday and become a chronicle of what I find there.

Sounds pretty self-important to me. Well, this is pretty important to me, and since I know I have a few loyal readers whom I wouldn't mind sharing my experience with, maybe it would be worth a try. We'll see.

Thing is, I'm already well into this seminary thing. Two classes down the crapper already. I could write volumes (indeed it feels I already have) about what I've experienced already.

Suffice it for now to summarize my meeting with our registrar today. He asked me how its been so far. I told him that I was shocked in my first class to feel like I was the most conservative person in the room. Then, in my second class, to my amazement I felt like I was the most liberal person in the room! I'm not crazy about either label to be honest, but the point is that these classes stretched me in opposite directions.

That doesn't necessarily mean I'm any the wiser of course. It could be that I'm being stretched so far that, as one radio talk show host once said, I'm now big enough to contain contradictions. I hope I don't just become a black hole for all assorted sundry of perspectives. I do hope to come out with my Christian worldview sharpened and my character refined. Thing is, I can't see this happening if I isolate myself in a room of personal yes-men and proof-text my way to comfort. I'm looking for iron to sharpen iron.

We'll see how that goes.


Heidi said...

Rob and I spent the first two years we were married in Three Hills, AB while I attended Prairie Bible College. I remember that same feeling of living in a bubble. I kept thinking that this isn't real life, it's so artificial, it drove me nuts. I know that Rob and I would vent a lot of our frustrations about it to our family and friends back home too.

I have to tell you again how much I enjoy your writing. You always seem to give me new things to think about. Your post before this one (as well as some of the stuff on holy crap) has really struck a chord with me. Recently we had a visit with an old girl-friend of mine and her husband. They are in Oxford as he is getting his PhD in Theology there. Both of them have decided to become Catholics. I know that she was raised in a MB church and her background is very similar to mine, I'm not entirely sure of his religious upbringing but he did say that this decision was ten years in the making. We questioned them quite closely as to what it was that made them decide to be Catholics and it was tough for us to really understand their reasons. At first he said his reason was "heaven". And I thought he was joking, I'm not so sure now. Some of the things that you and your friends have been discussing has seemed to tie into that and has helped to make things a little clearer for me. I think one of the main reasons the chose to go that way is the whole interpreting of the bible to suit yourself thing. He seemed to have great issue with protestants dividing into different denominations, or overthrowing a long standing rule (like women on the elders board, or no divorcees in ministry) based on a new "understanding" of biblical teachings, and that if enough people in the church wanted something like that and could get the vote to go one way, then things would change. We had a hard time with their belief that (and I may have this wrong but this was what I got from it) the church is a higher authority than the Bible given that the church came first and essentially put the Bible together.

I guess after all this rambling, I just wanted you to know that what I've read on your blogs has given me some new perspectives that have really helped me understand where my friends may be coming from. And I thank you for that.

Coutts said...

wow. that's really interesting. i find a lot of things about catholicism attractive. but i find a lot of things about protestantism attractive too. church authority is a huge thing. if they were more flexible in the development and evolution of their doctrine I'd consider going there too. in a way, protestants are too all over the place, and catholics are too staid. (at least in an official capacity)

thanks for reading

Tony Tanti said...

Love that you're admitting the bubble and doing what you can with it Jon. I really enjoyed this post and can't wait for more of your "self-interested" posts during Seminary.

Heidi, I have a couple friends who are Catholic and we have some of the same conversations that you are having. It's a pretty big stretch to say the Catholic church was around before the Bible, certainly not in it's current form it wasn't. The fact is the church is always changing as is the culture it is in. There are many things Catholics and protestants don't do that were once vitally important to the church. A Catholic friend of mine told me that she confessed to her priest that she hadn't been reading her Bible enough, he told her she didn't need to and she argued with him. I agreed with her but pointed out to her that this is a protestant idea, personal devotions etc.. She didn't like that but it's an example of how even devout Catholicism is changing. We need context and the community of Christ is called by Christ to interpret the Bible in a fluid way. (See Jesus' teaching on Binding and Loosing, it's all about interpretation of God's word in community) Have you ever read a book by Rob Bell called Velvet Elvis? It's not a perfect book but it's had a huge impact on my faith.

I also have love for the Catholic and protestant traditions for different reasons and annoyances with both as well.

Sorry for the ultra long comment.

Coutts said...

if only there were a third group, with the strengths of the catholic church as well as the protestant. i don't know enough about the orthodox church, i think it has its problems, but it is considered the third group of christians. (i've also heard charismatic/pentecostals referred to as another "stream" of christianity)

i saw we invent a new one. that would tick off everybody and then they'd finally be unified in their dislike of a common enemy!