Hello. It’s me.
It’s been awhile since I last sat down to punch out a blog post and quite a few things have happened in that time span. I finished writing my master’s thesis (which I defend on Thursday), I got engaged to my brilliant girlfriend fiancé of nearly two years, and, pending a criminal background check, I have been admitted to Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas. And oh yeah, I graduate from George Fox Seminary in a couple weeks.
On one hand, it is unbelievable that so much has happened within a short amount of time. It feels as though it had been a little over a year ago since I was first accepted into George Fox, but that was nearly three years ago. It feels like last summer when I flew over to Oxford, England on my first trip outside of the country, but that was two summers ago. And it feels as though Jenna and I have been dating for only a few months, but here we are approaching the two year mark and planning our wedding.
And yet on the other hand, there is this feeling of familiarity with every “new” thing that comes. When Jenna and I started dating, we had a few awkward moments. Neither of us were raised in feminist environments (quite the opposite, really), but we both hold to feminist values (which is why I wear an engagement ring, too). Oftentimes working against our upbringings, we navigated our relationship trying to be as aware as we possibly could of patriarchally-influenced practices that might cause harm to the other (more of an imperative for me than Jenna). Obviously we I have made mistakes. But at no point have I ever felt as though I could not be my normal weird self – the self that I often have to hide in other contexts.
In a similar vein, this is how seminary has felt for me: A place where I can explore tough questions that I have often tried to ignore without the fear of judgment. It’s a place where I can throw myself into a subject without having to worry about its marketable value in the job realm (although sometimes I do consider what it might look like to potential schools if I pursued certain academic fields; for example, I don’t think academia needs another cisgender, heterosexual male writing about homosexuality in the bible – if anything, we need to lift up queer voices and/or step out of the way). There are plenty of times during certain semesters with certain classes where I have to do research on particular topics that I am not really passionate about in any way, but yet again, I don’t feel out of place. Reading books and articles, taking notes, constructing essays, etc., all strangely feel like normal activities – not as burdensome as they often are for others. Even though I haven’t been pursuing an academic career for very long, I have always felt “at home” in the pursuit.
When it came to deciding on whether or not to accept Brite Divinity’s offer for this coming fall, which will likely mean taking on a little more debt in addition to amplifying regular-life stresses, it honestly came down to the fact that I have a tough time seeing what I would do outside of academic studies. Sure, working retail or in the food industry is always an option based upon my experiences in both categories. But these jobs feel like my trip to England two summers ago: temporary.
Means of survival.
What I am really after, though, is a cause – something that has no marketable value and probably no monetary payout. But it involves daily dedication to something greater than the self, something intended to improve the community. When I consider what my experiences within seminary have taught me, it is that this is bringing me closer to that cause. No, not every assignment is going to directly shape what that purpose looks like. But every piece of homework, no matter how tedious, furthers my preparation to discover not only what that cause looks like, but precisely how it will be accomplished.
This opportunity at Brite Divinity School, then, is a chance to extend that preparation.
This isn’t a blind pursuit, either. While the cause itself may not be clear, there have been glimpses. Every time someone needs help on their essay, I get a glimpse. Every time I spend hours translating a small passage of Greek or Hebrew, I get a glimpse. And every time I ask a question, suggest an approach to an answer, or listen to the ideas of my peers, I get a glimpse of what that cause is. And between my five years of undergraduate studies at the University of Oregon and my three years of graduate studies at George Fox Seminary, I can assure you that I have only seen these glimpses in the classroom.
Thus – and I may be tempting fate with this – until God slaps me around to point me in a different direction, I need to keep going. There is quite a lot riding on this move not only for myself, but for my fiancé and the life we wish to live. And it is because I’m not the only person involved that makes me even more terrified. Because to step away from this academic world is to undo much of what I’ve done thus far. Those two years in between college and seminary taught me that much. So until further notice, I’m going to continue.
And if the glimpses mentioned above mean what I think they mean, then all I’m really doing is staying “home” by moving to Texas.
I can write and talk all I want to about moving to new places, but the reality is that this costs money – more than Jenna and I can muster in a single summer. Frankly speaking, we’re broke. If you wish to help us with our moving expenses, please click here.