Monday, February 11, 2019

Things I Wish They'd Taught in Seminary, Part II

In vulnerable or reflective moments, clergy and others sometimes share about "Things I Wish They'd Taught in Seminary" (read Part I here). It's not a bad imaginative practice, but it can be depressing when things like "how to fix a toilet" make the top of the list. Toilets aren't the responsibility of seminary; they are a part of ordinary life. Don't get me wrong, toilet repair is good to know and probably even requires special training for most of us - and it's true that most well-run churches have toilets - but the application to the rest of life is substantial enough so as to prevent its sequestration on a seminary training list. Of course, this is debatable, but I suppose any interesting list must be.

So what's on your list?

Here are a few of mine:
  • A class putting Priya Parker's brilliant book, The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters, in conversation with liturgical, theological, and pastoral thought. Honestly, it's baffling how traditions like my own, in which the shape of worship is oftentimes exceptionally considered, tolerate (and convene) so many other gatherings (meetings, etc.) that are, by comparison, thoughtlessly conceived
  • Preaching the Gospel on the Sunday morning following an unresolved argument with your significant other on Saturday night. A seminar on this topic might rightly be considered a moral prerequisite for those traditions that allow clergy to marry. It's more than family counseling, too; it's theological clarification of what it is we preach.
  • Investing in the gift of seeing other people's gifts. John Paul II likes to ask 2 questions of every issue that came before him and the leadership teams he was a part of: 1) What light does the Gospel shed on this issue/opportunity? 2) Who can we ask for help? In the second question is contained all kinds of wisdom about humility, etc., but more fundamental, perhaps, is the truth that, if the ministry to which we have been called is reconciliation, there are no bonus points awarded for trying it by yourself. Similarly, if belonging and the mutual exchange of gifts are to be trusted and felt in the Body of Christ, making room for the gifts of others, even those gifts unknown to them, is not optional work; it is at the heart of discerning the Body together.

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