Just before I woke up, I had such an intense dream that it seemed like something else. Do I believe that God still talks to us through dreams? Do I believe that dreams give us a pipeline to our subconscious?
I'm not sure of my answer to those questions, but I wanted to record my dream. In my dream, it was late afternoon, around 4:45, and the sun was setting. My mom and I were at the edge of some small town. I said, "Wasn't there once a Methodist bookstore around here?"
Then we were in the bookstore, but it was a small thing, a room in a church, essentially. There was an older woman (but perhaps younger than my mom) who took one look at me and handed me a book. It's title: Ordination. It was a book that went denomination by denomination to talk about how each denomination dealt with women and ordination.
The book had the same yellow cover as the first edition of The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women that I bought in 1986, but the pages weren't thin, and the book itself, while as thick as the Norton, had larger pages. The cover had representatives, somewhat cartooony, of some of the denominations, including a monkish Martin Luther with a whip.
My mom made sure that I saw the part of the book that dealt with my grandfather, who was a Lutheran pastor in real life, and who did not approve of women's ordination.
I knew that I couldn't afford the book, and I wanted to read as much as I could before the store closed. I asked the older woman when they closed, and she said, "7." I looked at my watch, saw that it was 5, and sat down to read. My mom went to help with a children's choir.
That was my dream. When I write it out, it's difficult to convey how lovely it was, how warm it all felt, how in my dream, I felt like I was getting a clear sign (get to seminary!), even as I wondered if I really was getting a clear sign.
I woke up, and before my rational brain got to work, I felt I had been sent a sign. Then my rational brain got to work and reminded me of all the obstacles to seminary, and from that my brain moved on to thinking about how outmoded seminary is and how I'd change things.
Yes, seminary as it exists now, seems like a relic of the middle part of the 20th century, when people went to seminary right out of undergraduate school, before they had families. Or if they had families, there was a wife who had no career, and thus, the family could be uprooted to head off to the seminary of the future pastor's choice. Even as we have more mid-career seminarians, seminaries haven't changed to meet this reality. We're still expected to troop off to a distant school.
And once we get there, we must ask ourselves if what we study is still relevant. How much New Testament Greek? Might not Spanish have more of a use?
And a 4 year program to get a Master's degree? Really? Once we've uprooted ourselves for a seminary education, then we may have to uproot ourselves again for the internship year? Who designs this program?
It may be appropriate for young folks just out of college who have not much church experience, but for people who have been Church Council presidents and Confirmation leaders and curriculum designers and worship leaders--do we really need an internship year? Many of us have led churches through many a crisis and/or a time of searching for a pastor, which may mean lay preaching or overseeing the office, the finances, the week-to-week running of a church.
OK, enough of my sermonizing--there's my rational brain at work.
And in the interest of full disclosure, I do love the idea of school and learning more. I don't like the idea of taking on student loan debt and taking a 4 year vacation from earning money to go to school. That's the conundrum I can't solve as I think about ordination.
feeling the feelings…
9 months ago