Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How to Get Through Seminary and Look Good Doin' It

I stand out in seminary. It is not secret. Even if I weren't self-aware enough to know that, people here sure are friendly enough to tell me on a regular basis. I asked two of my close friends their thoughts on how to best stand out in seminary and these were their responses...

1. Be a woman
2. Be Chelsea Watkins

...So, there is that.

Now, don't get me wrong-- I understand that for some people this tension in culture doesn't come quite as naturally.  I have a few tips for those of you that are trying to figure out how others of us just can't seem to help but stand out. If you're looking to become a little bit more ballsy here in this strange little world, here we go:

1. Don't get embarrassed by the use of the word ballsy. No but seriously, if you blush whenever any sort of remotely off color comment gets made... you'll be staying exactly where you started. The real world uses language that is sometimes offensive. Just prepare yourself a little bit!

2. Instead of using Christian curse words just commit to the real ones. We all know the point you're trying to get across. By channeling parts of Shoot Christians Say I don't know if you're making yourself as relatable as you're hoping. Sorry to say, it sometimes comes off more pretentious than anything else. But then again, I come off as pretentious, so who am I to say?

and last but not least...

3. If your seminary has a dress code, don't be afraid to push the envelope a little bit. Fellas, this means wearing no belt with your tucked in polo and khakis. If you're a lady, get a little crazy and don't put on leggings under your skirt that's already long enough to hide a few small children under. I didn't realize I was pushing the dress code until about a semester in. I blame growing up on the beach-- it didn't prepare me for having to ever dress professionally!

There are plenty of others, but I thought I'd keep it simple. 

What tips do you have?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Falling In Love During Winter Intensive

Falling in love during Winter Intensive is much like falling in love on a mission trip (Sup, Jon Acuff?) or on a cruise. The thing about a Winter Intensive class is that, much like a cruise, people fly from all over for one week of glory. Although in this case, instead of spending their time drinking margaritas or swimming with dolphins they get to spend five days of 8-5 class studying smart sounding seminary-ish things (Not going to lie... I've had to google a few class titles, just to know what they meant before the first day.) But back to the original point, I feel that it almost goes without saying that at the end of the week people don't waste any time in getting back to their hometowns. 

Now, Winter Intensive love has a few good things about it:

1. It's a nice distraction. I know, I know... studying things like Soteriology and Old Testament Law for a week straight is a complete blast. But believe it or not, it can become a bit of a beat down and anything to give the class a little pep is quite welcome. 

2. Much like mission trip love-- you spend all day err'day talking about Jesus with each other. "Hey, remember that one time that we sat in class for eight hours learning about the inerrancy of the Bible? Well that wasn't quite enough for me, so I'd love to go get a seminary approved beverage with you and study some more. Then maybe later we can practice speaking in tongues."

3. Much like cruise love-- you only have to be on your best behavior for five days. Then you can feel free to head home and catch up on all those Law & Order: SVU reruns and getting dressed in the dark.


4. You get the first hand experience of the awkward seminary dating world without being stuck in it like those of us that are on campus year round. Winter Intensive love doesn't have the normal pressure that seminary dating holds. No one expects a ring by the end of the week. And when both of you fly home on Friday evening, you're void of any further responsibility. 

Maybe you will find lasting love during Winter Intensive, although I wouldn't put all your eggs in that basket. Or all of your prayers in that hymnal, as it were.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Saying Only The Zombies Ever Pulled Off Successfully

We all have those moments in life where we just don’t quite know what to say. What is awkward is when we try to say something anyways.

Last week in class we were talking about the paternity of Jesus. To be more specific, our professor was explaining that since Joseph wasn’t exactly Christ’s father, there was a lot of shame surrounding their family and his birth. The Pharisees would often throw this fact in Christ’s face while in heated debate. 

As we’re talking about this, a woman who had been otherwise silent in class chimes in with her only comment all week-- “Who’s your daddy?” ....and things just got weird from there. There is no good response to that comment. Fortunately for her, only a handful of people in the room heard the question. For those of us who did, it definitely raised some questions. Such as: why did you think saying that was a good idea?

Let the record show-- “Who’s your daddy?” is not good as a pick up line, it is not good as a country song, and it certainly is not good as a response to a seminary professor. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Lesson Everyone Needs... Even in Seminary

Sometimes you just need the reminder that even though you are traveling where you feel God has called you... it doesn’t make it any less shitty or any easier. To all in struggle, I say this:

It is okay to let yourself feel what you are feeling, and feel it wholly.

It won’t necessarily make it easier or more bearable, but I like to think that long term it’s easier to live with yourself when you’re not avoiding what you have been afraid to feel or who you have been afraid to be.

Maybe you need to extend forgiveness. Or maybe you need to recognize that you’re not quite ready to and that’s an okay place to be, for a season. Maybe you need to scream, throw something, or eat an entire bag of Coconut M&M’s. What it really comes down to is that it is okay to own your feelings and know that you won’t be in that place forever. 

Until we feel that closure, we pray. And maybe cry a little bit as well. 

I'm thankful for a place like seminary where I know that there is great community. And when these moments hit, there are people there to listen and let you get their shirt a little snotty. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Starting the Semester on a Good Note...

This past week, I started up a Winter Intensive course on theology. One week instead of a whole semester. The first day of class is always a rough one. That doesn't change, no matter how long the class is. You always have to figure out if you have any friends in the class, where you're going to sit, and who the douchey guy with too many opinions is going to be. There are always awkward name games played and generally speaking, the day seems pretty pointless until the professor actually starts speaking. This brings me to one of my favorite moments of this one week class.

Twenty minutes after the professor made it past the introductions and into content, some brave soul raised his hand to ask a question-- "Excuse me, are we going to pray? We didn't at the beginning of class, so I just wanted to check."

Now, I am fully aware that I don't have all the answers (in fact, I have close to zero of them), but if the professor who you are paying to lecture you has not prayed, I would guess that he has probably thought it through. So sit down and listen to the man with more degrees than any other person in the room. He knows what he's been doing. He's been doing it for awhile.

And welcome back for the spring semester!