doctoral days

It is reading so quickly that the words run together and form a stew in your mind. It is using and discussing words that you are not quite sure what they mean, but you know they fit the context. It is questioning the questions, debunking the theories, and grappling with issues of identity, hope, and care. For me, this is doctoral work.

I read Emile Durkheim’s Elementary Forms of Religious Life and then discuss it for four hours straight. I read essays in Feminist/Womanist Pastoral Theology. I read books about Black Pastoral Theology and then have a conversation with the author over the phone. I sit for four hours and discuss the condition of various cultures in the United States. I talk about my lack of identity as a white male. We discuss why there has never been a “white pastoral theology” and the implications therein.

Sometimes it feels like an exercise in mental masturbation. Sometimes, like today, it is fruitful and it makes you step out of your comfort zone and realize your perspective is not the only one and it is especially not any more valuable than anyone else’s. I could do without the massive amounts of reading, but then I would miss so much of the conversation, of the growth that happens when we encounter the opinions of another.

Doctoral work is the right place at the right time for me. I may not always believe that, but I am learning, I am growing, I am coming into contact with who I am and who others are as well. I can imagine that there will be times when I will gripe and moan, but at this moment it feels right, and my mind is clicking on all cylinders. While this is happening, life continues, and I aim to remain a part of it.

I feel the pain and the fear of the world as catastrophe after catastrophe decimates the children of God. I sense the hopelessness of the poor and futility of depending on an inept government to make any significant changes. I wonder how the lives of the grief-stricken move from hour to hour, imagining that many of them merely walk the earth numb and unfeeling. I know that it is not enough to talk, to imagine, we have to care and care enough to make changes.

It was reported today that congress plans to pay for the rebuilding of New Orleans by most likely cutting spending for food stamps and Medicaid. I could not think of a more racist or elitist way of building policy. It is outrageous that one would even think of rebuilding a city on the backs of the poor, while those with means get tax cuts.

If this seems outrageous to you, then email or write your congressperson and tell them so. While I am on the subject, I have to wonder what policy in this country would look like if the makeup of congress went by percentage of population according to the most recent survey. This would make congress actually look like the United States rather than look like the white guys from the populous regions. How differently would this country’s priorities look with a make up that represented us along gender and ethnic status rather than whoever had the most money and got their name in the press without screwing up too badly? Just a thought...

grace and peace



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