Saturday, August 02, 2008

Going back...

Several weeks ago I mentioned that this fall I would be returning to Truett seminary. Shortly thereafter I received a few comments and emails from people wanting me to talk through that a bit more.

First, a little clarification. Most acquaintances I've spoken with think that I have a significant amount of the requirements to complete a seminary degree, but I actually only attended Truett for a semester in the fall of 2002. So I'm still practically at the beginning. I left for one reason-- I was broke. Today I live with meager financial resources, but back then I was so deep in the hole it made no sense for me not to be working full time.

But it was a good time for me to put the brakes on a graduate degree for other reasons. Highest among them is the fact that I was not in a place where I was ready to learn. This was in the days shortly after we had all finished reading A New Kind of Christian and we "knew." We felt McLaren had pulled the veil back on hundreds of years of church history and we were ready to ride the tide of revolution. (This was, of course, before McLaren proved to be not much more that what many of his critics charged him with, and that we, in our McLaren hysteria, denied vehemently-- A repackaging of a 60's political-theological liberal) In the midst of all the "above the line" talk, I was not prepared to stand on the line that the saints of the past had wrestled hard with, and had found God on. I was only ready to preach the emergent gospel of communal bliss. (I was slow to grab on to the "justice" side of that gospel coin.) I cast a knowing eye on the college-sophomore phenomenon of being a smart-ass-know-it-all, but I was not so different myself.

I'm sure there are similar things I am blind to now, but hopefully I'm in a more humble place, ready and open.

The reasons I am returning are twofold. One is that a few people that I love and respect dearly have been gently nudging me in this direction for a few years. They have confirmed things about me that they felt were some of my gifts. Always a sucker for the good things people have to say about me, I began to take these compliments to heart and slowly came to a realization that I needed to go ahead and get it out of the way.

The second, and perhaps more authentic reason for heading back to Truett is that I am beginning to get tired of a life that is simply one more damn thing after another. For years I have preached the gospel of the mundane-- the good new that God is alive and well in the routines and boring moments of people living hardscrabble lives in the normal day-to-day. I still preach that gospel and believe it fully. But I'm also ready for the other side, the side that says God is also alive and well in new things, in the adventure of lives that seek out challenges.

So, that's that. Hopefully there will be seminary update blogs as the years go on.


Melissa said...

Cool! Congrats for new beginnings.

Aaron said...

Yes, congratulations. I have noticed the transition in you that you write about here, and I do believe (judging by your writings) that you are much more ready to learn now than you would have been back then. I see evidence of the grace of growing humility (not that you weren't humble back then, but just that it is more evident now).

Now, I hope that my compliment of your humility doesn't make you proud of being humble.

I'll be interested to read about your coming seminary experience. And who knows? Maybe one day soon we'll be able to get together again.

Craig said...

Aaron, thanks for the compliment. I've been considering writing a book and titling it, "How I found humility, and how you could someday be just as humble as me."

Not to read too much into your note, but your "maybe one day soon..." comment had an air of concrete possibility. Care to share?

Aaron said...

Well, the only real concrete possibility is that I have the end of my Ph.D. in sight. No one knows where we will end up after that (I'll be pursuing a job in higher education), but I suppose the chances are as good as any that we could end up in Texas or one of the surrounding states. I decided to say "one day soon" because it sounds more intentional than "one day."

Even if we don't move back to Texas, though, we still need to take a trip down there to see everybody. We were in Dallas back in February when I performed a wedding for my friend Clint, but that was such a whirlwind of a weekend that the only other Dallas-area friends I saw were Mark and Starrla.

Aaron said...

Just to stir the pot a little, Craig, I wonder what you think of what I wrote back on December 16, 2005, about the emerging church and humility (I would post a link, but I don't know how to do that in comments; you can find it on my current blog, where I recently imported posts from my old blog). With a few years of distance and experience behind you now, do you think I was basically on target?

jenA said...

well done. I wish you luck and hope you can borrow all the books you need from the half of UBC that is studying or has studied at Truett in the last three years.
Everyone, give Craig your books.