Friday, September 5, 2008


Thursday was our first day of orientation. I had been a bit nervous, only because it looked like, from the schedule we had, that we were going to begin the day by sharing our call stories. I shall refrain from sharing the groans and ironic remarks that race around the circle of seminarians any time “call story” is mentioned. As for me, the way I see my story seems to change with every leg of the journey, which only serves to make my oral retelling either really long or really incoherent or usually both. Why would I want to share a long and incoherent story with people I have just met?

Fortunately, our morning session was filled with nothing of the sort. Instead, we did what Kim calls a “dinamica” (dynamic?) in which we pretended that the floor was a map of the world, and moved around on it while we told chunks of our story: where we were born, where our maternal ancestors were from, where are paternal ancestors were from, what place in the world has shaped us in some way. Naturally, the first of these allowed me to shine the spotlight, once again, on the fact that I was born in California, a fact of which I am unreasonably proud. For the last one I explained how Chicago has shaped me, both in growing up just outside of it and in the last two years I have lived in the city proper. Random fact: for the “place that has shaped you” I was the only one, student or teacher, to stand in a place inside the United States rather than outside of it. Mostly I think that’s because I never went on any kind of lengthy study abroad program, but still, I thought about it for awhile.

As for the middle two places – where our ancestors are from – I had very little to contribute, especially relative to the other people in the group. I know my ancestors on my mom’s side were from Germany, but I don’t know a whole lot beyond that. I think I have been asking more questions in recent years, but still… I don’t have near the knowledge that, say, Kim has about his family roots. I’m sure I haven’t been listening well enough. As for my dad’s side, well, I just went and stood in West Virginia. The things I don’t know about my family could fill books…

Anyway, we spent the rest of the day talking through the program methodologies and schedules. I am cautiously excited. I am excited because one of our assignments goes like this: on Mondays we bring in a news article that has caught our attention, on Wednesdays we present a brief social and theological reflection/analysis on it, and on Fridays we have a Bible study/worship service. That’s right: we start with the way the world is and we conclude by finding the good news that God is doing in the midst of it. Exactly, exactly what I have needed. (Sidebar: When we had talked through our hopes and fears for the program, my hope was that I would be able to find the good news. I got some funny looks, but my preaching colleagues know what I’m talking about.)

On the other hand, I remain cautious: You never know what any class is going to look like until you get a few weeks into it. I imagine this program will be like that, too. Also, I have to be patient, which is not always easy for me. There was a lot of theory today – pedagogical theory and a little bit of theology – and that is always hard for me to deal with. My philosophy background – analytic philosophy, not continental – has left me with a very low tolerance for vagueness or inconsistency of any kind. Theory is very hard work, and it drives me nuts when people treat it like a 5-minute meal. That’s the charitable way of reading my reaction. The other of way of looking it: I am just really nitpicky when it comes to theory.

After a long day like this, I needed a drink. And by drink, I mean a cup of hot chocolate. And by hot chocolate, I mean hot chocolate with tequila. With 4 hot, fresh churros. All for less than the price of a mocha at Starbucks, at a café only a few blocks away. Ah, Mexico…

1 comment:

From Michigan with Love said...

I'm with yea! I've always been 'unreasonably proud' to have Wisconsin on my passport! :-) and keep standing tall fellow 'proud to be shaped in America'! The Boss would be proud :-)