Sunday, September 21, 2014

Back Home Again in Indiana

          I never thought that the day would come when I would call Indiana my home again. I also never imagined that I would be happy living in Northern Indiana, but here I am. I moved about four weeks ago to Elkhart to begin my graduate studies here at AMBS (Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary). And although this last week was a little rough and things have been pretty hectic, I am loving it here.
          My feelings after Friday afternoon Church and Race class really sums up my thoughts so far. The class was talking about Christian ethics and it included a great discussion with a phenomenal professor. I realized then that I like studying theology the same reason I started studying philosophy in my undergraduate: through the lense of philosophy you can look at any topic; science, religion, economics, all of it was applicable to philosophy. Theology is the same. For example, this week AMBS hosted a conference on land and faith. Land and ideas such as food justice are strongly Biblical. But unlike philosophy, with theology we have a focus. We are focused on what it means to do life in the context of following of Jesus. This not only focuses our studies, it makes our studies applicable to our lives right now. It is not just some abstract ideas, but about the way we live our lives.
          I might be totally nerdy, but I am really excited about this right now. I am so excited to be studying theology and to be back in the academic world discussing questions and beliefs. If you are a long-time follower of my blog, you know that my faith journey has had its ups and downs. But here, I am beginning to see the great variety of theological thought and faith formation. There are so many different viewpoints and ways of relating to God. And here, we can have meaningful conversations and not get upset, but discuss together in order that we might all learn and might all become better followers of Jesus Christ, even if the ways we do that and the language we use differ vastly. Here, I have found a safe place to ask my questions while being a part of a larger community full of differences and full of love.
          Because these discussions are not taking place just inside of class, but are being lived. I honestly did not know if places better than EMU existed, but here I have found a new community and new sense of being. It is different than EMU because the size is smaller and people are more grown up. Because of this, the community is stronger. There is no hierarchy between professors and students and thus discussions take place at community meals, break times, chapel, and even during ultimate frisbee. These are the activities I take part in with my fellow students, faculty, and staff. We are living out what we are learning in our classes.
          For these reasons, I kind of think everyone should come to seminary! Seminary is not just about becoming church leaders, but questioning our faith and finding ways together to be the body of Christ. I honestly don't know if I am going to use what I learn here as part of a future career, but I don't care. I am going to use what I learn here in life! I think that anyone is wanting to go deeper in their faith and wanting to study more academically should consider going to seminary as a preparation for any career, if it be a pastor, marine biologist, or an astronaut. Here, you are accepted as you are and get to learn with people from different walks of life, very talented professors, and an amazing community.
          And so thus I begin this new journey. I am taking four classes this semester, although one of those was a hybrid that will be over shortly. These classes are Leadership Education in an Anabaptist Perspective, Christian Attitudes Toward War, Peace, and Revolution, Christian Theology I, and Church and Race. It is a lot of work as I am also working almost 25 hours a week to pay rent and such (I work 7ish hours a week at the library on campus, 4ish hours a week on Southside Mennonite Fellowship's Communicator (this is the church I now attend), and another 16 hours a week at a local food co-op.) I am getting very passionate about my studies (as hopefully I have portrayed) and I feel that other parts of my life are also coming together. Next post will be about another one of my new passions, cooking and eating a whole foods plant-based diet!

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