Friday, September 18, 2009

The Fire This Time?

This was written for my theology class. The question that we were responding to was “What I am anticipating in a course on Christian theology” or “What I am anxious about in a course on Christian theology.”


As several have mentioned, it is interesting to read through this first set of entries, or to at least skim them. The one thing that many seem to have in common is a general trepidation that seems to center on a fear of “not being able to do it” (I am of course paraphrasing and generalizing here, but you get my point). I have no fear that all the students in the class will be able to bring their considerable and differing experiences together and be able to “do” G-d-talk.

Now, if I am giving the impression that I don't have trepidation and anxiety about this course and its subject matter, I'm sorry, because I certainly do have deep seated “fear and trembling” about being in this course. But not for many of the reasons cited. I did take quite a few philosophy courses in undergrad and my degree is essentially in political philosophy and history. I know that I can “do” this kind of work, but that ability is what scares me. My previous classes have taught me how to tear something apart, to look at it, examine it, name it, own it, and I am not sure if I know how to engage with ideas in a meaningful way with out doing that, and that scares the crap out of me.

All through my academic career I managed to avoid taking a class in/on theology. Now sure, I've read on my own, but that kind of self-work is not the same as rigorous academic study. And it certainly doesn't help that I have a deep seated suspicion of theology as an attempt to quantify, qualify, name, know, and own the very mystery of G-d, a mystery that we are told many times in Scripture, both Hebrew and Greek, that we can not know and certainly not name, own and control.

A friend of mine who is a Wake Div grad told me something over the summer that I think Dr. Tupper told her when she was a student: Div school is hard and scary and brutal because it forces you to rip out you still beating heart and examine it.

I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that for many (most?) of us our faith, our theology, our G-d-talk, is at the very center of who we are, that it forms a (the?) core of our existence. Knowing that, I can't help but fear that we are playing with fire. The Wild Land Firefighter in me is screaming to be careful, to not play with the fire, while at the same time the rebel/anarchist/wild-man/12-year old pyro in me can't help but to take a leap of faith, screaming, “Lets burn it all to the ground and see what new rises from the ashes of the old!”

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