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“Oh no I've said too much; I haven't said enough...”
~Michael Stipe, Losing My Religion
This is a bit of personal stuff but I feel like I have to say it. There are a few people that know me that read this blog, and a number that I feel like I know—to a certain extent—simply via correspondence. And there are still many more that I don't know but am grateful that they visit this humble page.
So for those that know me this is not new information, but to some it may come as a surprise (or maybe not) that after a lifetime of facing a stove I have—at midlife—decided to go to seminary. And over the past year or so I have understandably been asked questions that seem—at times—a bit awkward, uncomfortable, and even confusing (to me anyway).
It has taken me many years to fully accept and ultimately embrace my somewhat idiosyncratic INFJ personality type. And in doing so one of the things that I've learned about myself is that words—words that I actually mean, not those that often simply spill out of my mouth—usually come much easier when I write them than when I speak them aloud. So for this reason, and after some deliberation, I thought I'd answer a few questions that been asked of me when I mention that I am attending seminary.
So here goes...
Are you going be a pastor or lead a church?
Um, no. This question is one that I am most sure of the answer...no, likely not. That's not why I am doing this. And honestly, I don't believe this is the type of seminary that trains clergy to lead churches, at least not in the traditional sense.
What type of seminary is it?
It is a part-time interfaith seminary located in NYC. Though I am registered as a distant learner I attend as many classes as possible in person (which was about 80% for my first year). Here is the website to the school; here is their mission statement.
Then why are you doing this? Are you planning on leaving the food service industry?
Ahhh...the million dollar question. To be honest, I am not entirely sure why I am doing this. But it truly is something that I feel called to do, and it feels right. And no, I am not planning on leaving the food service industry (I enjoy it too much and I enjoy my job). This is not instead of what I do, it is in addition to what I currently do.
What will you do once graduated/ordained?
Again, I'm not entirely sure. But I do know that I want to feed people. And I'm not exactly sure what I mean by this either (but I do know that it will work itself out). This may take the form of working in a food pantry, delivering food to the needy on my bike, or teaching disadvantaged youths how to cook for future job skills.
So this is an interfaith seminary and you will be an interfaith minister, what does that mean? I know that you were raised a Christian, are you still a Christian?
The word Christian and the very name Jesus seem carry so much baggage today, but if I had to answer this question in a single word I would without hesitation say yes. If I could answer this with a sentence or two it would be this: Yes, I am a Christian in that I try to follow the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth the best I can (which I usually fail miserably), but I would have to deny this if it meant to take the Bible as the infallible word of God and the resurrection as a literal event. The Bible, to me, is a sacred text, but I believe it is to be taken almost entirely as metaphor, and I am fully aware that it is a book written by men and for men. (Please do not send me hate mail or try to “save” me.)
If I had to sum up in just a few words what it means to me to be a Christian it would be this: love, justice, peace, community, and inclusion. And this seems to be the same message of all the major religions. In fact, what drew me most to this particular school is that it is an interfaith school. They believe, as I do, that there is but One Source for us all. Christianity is just one of the ways, not the only way. My faith has also been deeply influenced by Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sufism. This said, I am an ordained deacon and an active member within a Christian church (Pilgrim-St. Luke's/El Nuevo Camino UCC).
So, can you tell me again why you are doing this and what you will eventually do?
Again, I'm not entirely sure. But I do know that I am in the right place—spiritually and mentally—and that this feels like the natural path which I should be taking right now. I have a vague plan of continuing on to a degree in food studies and spirituality. After all, what is more spiritual than feeding people? I'll keep you posted...
“The kingdom of the father is spread out over the earth, and people do not see it."
The Gospel of Thomas, saying 113
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