It is August 13 and I have not filled out a registration, ordered books or emailed a professor. Trust me, the hours I once reserved for school have filled in with a host of other activities. Still, something is missing. It is not class attendance, the deadlines of assignments, the rigor of testing. It is something richer: conversation. What I am missing is the stirring conversation of academic minds that come together to truly deliberate, consider, and eloquently speak rich thoughts. The simple goal of Midrash & a Meal is to provide us space to deeply consider texts our former seminary professors are considering.
When asked to join the first Midrash, Dr. Marshall’s eyes lit up. “I may be reading just the right book for our first Midrash” she said. I just started reading it. Ross Douthat offers a scathing look at American Christianity in his book Bad Religion: How We Have Become a Nation of Heretics. While reading the introduction I was reminded of a few months ago when I was channel surfing. As do many Americans, I was surfing through a copious number of digital channels trying to find something unique in the world of repetitive reality shows, dramas, comedies, and sporting events. I came upon a smiling young man speaking to a large crowd. His dark hair, disarming smile, and relaxing cadence caught my attention. I had never really stopped to listen to Joel Osteen. He was mesmerizing. His style was uncanny, but his content felt bankrupt. Yet, Osteen preaches to a congregation of thousands upon thousands week in and week out. As I listened to him and contemplated the scope of his audience, concern began to set in.
I will enjoy reading the balance of the book. Even more, I will enjoy discussing the assumptions Douthat puts forth with Dr. Marshall and a number of my peers. Join us, lunch will be provided, and the discussion will be lively.
Central 2012 M.Div.
“The vocation of the “pastor-theologian” is one that appeals deeply to my personal sense of calling. I have never felt particularly gifted as a “shepherd pastor,” or a “CEO pastor,” but have always had an abiding spiritual curiosity that has led me to seek God both intellectually and in community. Working on a Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree at Central gave me the valuable freedom to explore theology and biblical studies more deeply than I could have imagined. I not only learned how to conduct research in my field of New Testament studies, but I learned how to better form my own questions in search of answers. Central helped me to realize my own vision of making biblical scholarship accessible to the local parish, a vision that I hope to carry well into my future.”