I created this blog as a way to process and record my experience as a seminary student. I also hope it will provide a platform for my friends and family to participate in the journey. Some of the entries are kind of long, but what can I say--I was in graduate school, they made us do that...


Saturday, January 19, 2008

My first semester classes

During my first semester (Fall 2007) I signed up for four classes:

  • Introduction to Old Testament History and Literature
  • Introduction to Pastoral Care and Counseling
  • Spiritual Preparation for Ministry
  • History of Christianity I

I ended up dropping the history class because of poor teaching--it was an adjunct teacher from the other seminary. They are in the process of hiring two new faculty members, so hopefully next year they'll have somebody great.

I absolutely adored my Old Testament class. During the first or second day, my teacher opened up the book and pointed to the page. She said, here is a book with pages in it. On those pages are words. This semester we are going to be focusing on those words. Along the way, we will find gaps in the information provided through the words on the page. We can do our best to theorize what those gaps mean, but we will always remember what we are doing...gap-filling. She said that most of what people argue about in religion is disagreements over their personal versions of gap-filling. Brilliant! I hadn't ever thought about it that way before and it has re-opened the bible for me.

Have you read the OT? There are some pretty crazy stories in there... As soon as this class was finished, I wanted to start all over again at the beginning. There is just way too much material to cover in one semester. Of course that's why we have upper division courses! My final project was a sermon on Judges 11:40 which I gave to Spokane Friends over break.

Pastoral Care was also great. I figured out that I am a problem solver and that I let my need to fix get in the way of my listening skills. I jump in way too fast with a solution, when what I should be doing is giving someone space to figure out their own solutions. Obviously there was way more to my new understandings and this class, but that is certainly one of the top things I came away with.

For one of my assignments in this class, I spent a day with the chaplain at the high security women's prison in Indianapolis. It was wild. I met with several inmates and was able to participate in a two-hour workshop with them. I was so thankful for my experience at the Women's Hearth. I never would have been brave enough to visit a prison without that experience behind me. I met a woman who has been locked up for 18 years and is serving two life terms. She was so kind and gentle, almost grandmotherly. I have no idea what on earth happened in her life 18 years ago, but I know that she spends her current days mentoring the other inmates. I told her that I could see how much she meant to the other women. She responded by telling me that every time a woman she's mentored is released, a small piece of her leaves with them and that this allows her to feel like a contributing member of society. She truly was remarkable.

One of things that hit me the hardest was the fact that all the inmates have to wear beige every day. Beige shoes, pants, shirts, everything. I can imagine that some of them long for color. After I left, I wanted to mail them all bright red shirts.

Spiritual Preparation for Ministry was sort of like group therapy. I think they want to make sure we're not insane and that we don't go insane as we adjust to life as seminarians. They also want to help us form a cohort with our fellow students. You can read my final reflection paper from this class in the previous post entitled first semester reflection paper.

For my January Intensive I took Prayer. It was excellent. I'm currently working on my final paper and will post it as soon as I finish.

There you go...a quick overview. It was a pretty good start. I only really freaked out a few times, but I'm still here, ready to give it another go. We'll see!

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