Saturday, October 06, 2007

Liveblogging theology class

When I decided I wanted to go into counseling, I decided on seminary precisely because I wanted to include the theological element as part of my education. One of my biggest concerns about the world we live in is the destructive power held by fundamentalist or cultish religious institutions over both individuals and groups as a whole. By this, I don't mean that I intend to become "the religion counselor." I have absolutely no intention of trying to bring clients around to my way of seeing things or immediately jumping to the person's religious background as the source of all their ills. That would be stupid. Besides the fact that it ain't my job, I'm also trying to figure things out myself, and probably will be for a lifetime. I don't envision therapy sessions as great theological debates. In many cases, religion may not come up in therapy, and that's cool with me too. All I mean is that I want to be prepared to speak to the spiritual aspects of people's lives as a facet of their being, and to understand where people are coming from when they're coming out of the types of backgrounds I described above. What interests me is helping people find a path to freedom.

I am, of course, at the early part of my education, not yet jaded or burned out in the least, and my idealism is at a high. But I've come to realize that idealism is part of who I am, and it's only been in the last few years that I've started to be cool with that and think of it as a strength rather than a liability. I fully expect that I will experience and learn things that may modify my vision, but I suspect that the idealism will remain.

When I tell people about what I'm going to school for, I sometimes get the impression that they think I'm somehow working the system from the inside, as if I'm going undercover in the enemy's lair to learn all of its secrets, and when I come back out I'll use what I know against it. Nobody has come out and said this, and maybe I'm totally mistaken. Either way, that's not at all the case. I consider myself to be a person of faith, though it's accompanied by all the questioning, doubting, and wondering that I think just comes along with being human.

Anyway, I decided to try liveblogging last night's theology class. And just so you know, I was paying attention and participating in class. My notes are about 5 times as long as what follows. Enjoy.

6:19
Class hasn't started yet, and I'm not sure if this is really a good idea. It might be interpreted as "not paying attention" by the vast readership. Fie. Fie I say!

6:20
I really should be paying attention though. He might say something that will spark an idea for my next paper. Or make sense out of this last reading.

6:25
I got to class too late to sit in the backrow, so in order to be able to plug in my laptop, I ended up in the front row. I don't think I've sat in the front row since junior high.

6:32
Important answers to important questions: 12 point, Times New Roman, double-spaced, 1 inch margins. No wingdings.

6:57
Teacher makes fun of Elijah.

7:21
Liveblogging not going so good. Paying too much attention.

7:24
I don't think I'll ever get past the belief that those of religious faith should be subversives. How that manifests itself varies, I don't know exactly. I just think that religious types who place their faith in politics in an attempt to reinvent the world into their own heavenly vision have lost sight of whatever it was they were seeking. There will always be empire. Beware of becoming the empire. I guess I'm arguing for separation of church and state from a different angle.

7:36
Break!

7:48
Still on break. Class is three hours long, I love that they put out snacks at the midway point. It's like Kindergarten.

7:56
I may be liveblogging, but the dude next to me is playing solitaire. Of course, we're still on break.

8:11
I should read Steinbeck.

8:14
Sometimes I want to live in Metaphor Land. Literal City is a drag. This is a good class for that.

8:40
It seems that we live in a world of primal narratives. It is said that to forget history is to be doomed to repeat it, suggesting that learning from history allows us to evolve. But perhaps these narratives always exist and recur no matter what. Cain didn't kill Abel thousands of years ago, Cain always kills Abel, over and over again. Neil Gaiman gets it.

8:56
Rowan Williams may be the Archbishop of Canterbury and he may have been a professor at Oxford and some people may consider him the greatest living theologian, but somebody needs to give him a lesson in punctuation and ending sentences.

9:14
From my notes: We can't read history as if the people in it were just like us. That imposes us on them, rather than seeing them for what they are.
We can't write history off as too foreign for us to relate to since that is what we are built on.
We can't write history's people off as just wrong, assuming that our present ways of being are self-evidently right.

9:21
Time to go!

15 comments:

CamiKaos said...

"I just think that religious types who place their faith in politics in an attempt to reinvent the world into their own heavenly vision have lost sight of whatever it was they were seeking."

Amen.

Jonathon Morgan said...

Literally city *is* a drag sometimes.

Amelia said...

I just looked up 'spirituality' in the dictionary and I have to concede that its proper meaning does appear to be connected to religion in all cases.

However, I wish we could stop automatically associating the two. Religion to me is cruel; art and nature seem far closer to 'the spirit' although I have no literal belief in such an entity.

Hey, I'm livecommenting!

Whit said...

I have real issues with religion, specifically organized.

I would feel like I was the enemy on the inside.

yer mama said...

In college I ALWAYS sat in the very front. Does that make me weird?

sybil law said...

This was my favorite part:
"We can't write history's people off as just wrong, assuming that our present ways of being are self-evidently right."...
Quotes by others:

Pearl S. Buck:
Life without idealism is empty indeed. We just hope or starve to death.



Aldous Huxley:
At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.

Karen said...

ooo! I love me the posts that make me think.

Interesting blog from a spiritualish counselor in Vancouver: moritherapy.com

Love what you say about imposing our perspective on people from history. Too often we forget that. Hell, too often we forget that the living aren't just like us, too.

Jeff said...

I can't even imagine what I'd be doing instead of taking notes if we were allowed to have laptops in the classroom when I was in school. I had a hard enough time taking notes on paper instead of doodling.

Bitsy Parker said...

So many things!

1) Class on Sunday night?? Three hours no doubt...glad there were snacks.
2) You're going to be a great therapist! Of course spirituality has to the a part of the journey, or your patient would be dull.
3) Hmm...liveblogging

Bitsy Parker said...

If you want to host your seminar in my living room (or your old play) come on over!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure whether you meant you should RE-read you some Steinbeck, or whether you meant you've never read Steinbeck. If latter, you absolutely must read East of Eden. Several times.

MetroDad said...

This was, by far, the best liveblogging of any event that I've seen online.

Seriously. It drives me nuts when people liveblog dumb shit like their favorite TV shows ("When Michael from The Office did that funny dance, I just HAD to scream. I do that too!") Ugh.

By the way, would it be such a bad thing to try and work the system from the inside? We need some undercover agents inside the cults!

Steve said...

I love the back row. I sit there too during my classes. Not a bad idea to live blog, however, 9 hours of blogging in one day could exhaust me.

Btw, wasn't sure how to email you, but thanks for the comment the other day. I'm past it and feeling much better about my choices in life.

Terrible Mother said...

Hey Holmes,

First time reading your blog, and, well, you know how I got here. My ex-boyfriend is a seminary student, and was when we dated, and it was always this interesting thing to me. I started our relationship as a devote atheist, but since dating him, I'm...hmm...spiritual. Something like that. Anyway, dating him taught me a lot about religion and I realized that as an overeducated liberal, I had pigeon-holed all Christians as fundamentalists. It was a good experience for me in a lot of ways.

I'm looking forward to reading more about your education and seminary experience.

Bubblewench said...

This is a great post. There are a few points that I sat here saying "YEAH HOLMES!" out loud while I read it!