I could continue with this list, but you get the idea. I am trying not to get bogged down in despair, so I've been focusing on what's going right. In my 9th week of seminary classes, I'm happy to report that I'm still thrilled to be a seminary student. I've written one purple legal pad full of notes from classes.
I imagine that years from now, when I look back on this time period, the thrill of seminary classes will be what I remember. And to help me remember, let me list a few high notes from this point in my progress:
--Last night, in my New Testament class, I heard the BEST analysis of the Mary and Martha story that I've ever heard. What if Mary is not the purpose of the story, not the role model that so many of us have heard that she is? If we see Martha as a weary disciple, does the story change? The story is positioned between the Good Samaritan story and the teaching of the disciples to pray--how does this positioning help us analyze the story?
--In my Hebrew Bible class (what we used to call Old Testament), we've gotten to the Exodus story. As I read these stories, many of them familiar from childhood, but not recently familiar, it's very strange to reflect and dive deep. It feels disrespectful to my Jewish friends and colleagues to air my criticisms. At the same time, my modern sensibilities recoils at some of the capriciousness of this God and at the actions of these ancient people. I still haven't sorted out my discomfort.
--My Hebrew Bible class is completely online, so I have my professor's lectures on video to watch. While she doesn't completely allay my discomforts, she helps me imagine that there might be a path if I continue to wrestle. Wrestling and arguing--these are good verbs for Hebrew Bible class. My favorite quote from this week's lectures: "God does not call prophets to be puppets."
--While I imagine I would feel a tighter sense of community if we were all taking classes in person, I am beginning to feel like I'm getting to know some of my classmates. In my Spiritual Formation class, we were divided into groups that would meet once a week. Our time availability was how the class was split up. Each small group has a discussion thread that only they contribute to, along with the discussion thread for the whole class. In my virtual classes, we break out into small groups every week, which also helps me feel like I'm getting to know people.
--I do feel lucky that all of the tech woes haven't impacted my ability to go to seminary classes or get the work done. I have the best internet connectivity in our condo that I've ever had in a living space, and I have some back up plans if I need them: connectivity at school, connectivity at the public library, connectivity at my church. I can't imagine how people do distance learning if internet coverage is spotty.
I am now closer to the end of my first semester than the beginning. I'm happy that I'm still excited about these classes, that I'm still learning so much, that I'm still getting so much joy from this experience.