Tuesday, February 13, 2007

i like seminary. suburbs?

So, realizing that I haven't done so for awhile, I thought I would post what I've been up to.

First off: I like seminary. The plan for this semester is to have me read all the coolest books ever, and then talk about them with interesting people. It will be a struggle, but I will try to find strength to endure.

This semester I'm taking the second half of the Hebrew Bible class (That's 'old testament class' to any virulent anti-semites out there), Theories of Change (reading bell hooks, Walter Wink, Paulo Friere, and Martin Luther King), Systematic Theology (reading a whole lot of Calvin), and Psychology of the Oppressed and Liberation Theology (reading theology from the following perspectives: african-american, asian american womanist, mujerista, and white liberationist.)

So, this is pretty awesome, and leads me to something interesting:
I've been thinking about where it would be best for me to do ministry. For a while, my friend Nate and I were kicking around the idea of military chaplaincy. I figured that if I want to be serious about all this anti-imperial/pro-kindom of God stuff, I should try to do ministry in the heart of the empire. It seemed like trying to transform the military would be a pretty good thing to do if I wanted to work for peace and stuff. I still agree with that, but after talking to some folks who know more about the military than I do, I've largely backed away from that possibility. Basically, I think it would be really hard to do authentic, anti-imperial ministry while being employed/controlled by the military. Nate's still thinking about it.

Which leads me to this class. This week we read and wrote about "The Colonizer and the Colonized" by Albert Memmi. Memmi argues that in the colonial structure, one is pretty much doomed to live out one's role, either as the oppressed colonized or the oppressive colonizer. The only way out for the colonized is revolution, which (I guess) means that the only way out for the colonizer is to get out of the colony.

So, this got me thinking again about where to do parish ministry, in a place that would best affect the heart of the empire, and also not impose myself on a culture in which I am not welcome. My first impulse is to go do ministry among the marginalized some place; among the poor, or in a largely glbt church, or the like. Indeed, I think a lot of my classmates are thinking that way.

But maybe it would be a more authentic answer of my anti-imperial, pro-kindom of God call to go where the power of the empire is generated, to confront the assumptions and funding that helps the war machine grind merrily along.

So what do you think? Should I go do parish ministry in the suburbs?


Matt said...

I say do it! Then again, I think you would do great work wherever you choose to go. =)

And speaking of waging peace and justice, here's a link about a fellow Obie who's recently written a book on his experiences as a refugee and child soldier in Sierra-Leone. He's spoken at the UN and various conferences, and has been interviewed by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. His story is heartwrenching, but profoundly hopeful.


love to you all,


Beth said...

Do it! Just don't get too comfy in the suburbs:)

Megan Highfill said...

You should start a mega-church while you're at it. :-P Traitor.

I think changing the world from the inside of the problem is effective, sometimes, but can be extremely unhealthy. Just ask Mel or Corey or many LGBT Methodists and Presbyterians. Though the discrimination may not be constant or even obvious, it can ride on someone's soul and push them to their limits. Jimmy Creech talked about this last Sunday...about realizing that as an inside-changer, many find they are actually on the outside all along. Who knows...I couldn't do it, but if you can, go for it. I will never visit you, though. Never. Never ever. :-)

Marymeadows said...

I worked the 'burbs and after 9/11 I think the beginning of the end was when I preached a sermon that suggested that we as Christians might stand in a different place of critique of the gov't (Empire!) than we do as citizens. That and I didn't have us sing God Bless America at the end of the service.

Of course, it could have been that sermon a couple of months earlier on the Lord's Prayer when I suggested that when Jesus called God "Father," he didn't mean that was God wasn't a Mother, too.

David Reese said...

yeah, Mary, I think God is a mother.

One tough mother.