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 Nashville cohort just completed our first class with Dr. Molly T. Marshall at Conception Abbey and I am still processing all that transpired in my heart during that time. Being at the Abbey allowed us to share our stories and get to know one another in a way that enabled community to happen. The rhythm of prayer and quietude inspired the kind of contemplation introduced to us in the books we read in preparation for the class. Dr. Marshall’s focused discussion about creativity and spirituality enabled us to consider the road ahead and how we will practice spirituality as a community and as individual ministers in the work we do. I am honored and thrilled to be a part of the CBTS community. It is just the beginning and I am excited about what lies ahead!