Kerry Takes a Class
Yesterday I started my first seminary class since…since I was in seminary. I am auditing “Moravian Theology” at the Moravian Theological Seminary—a class they did not offer when I was last a student.
It’s been 25 years since I started seminary. Some things have changed. For one the class is completely online. The virtual gymnastics required for a virtual class are many and complicated. Because of the virtuality of the class, class breaks no longer feature ping pong, although ‘Pong’ seems a classic computerized replacement.
Some things have not changed. I was first day of school nervous. Did I get the time right? Did I account for the time difference? Who will I sit next to? My nerves melted with the reminder that I am auditing the course and not getting a grade. This absolves me from doing the work, but that would be counterproductive. I don’t want or need the grade, but I do want and need to do the work.
Even though the professor applauded my mid-career class taking, I wonder how much adults value learning. Some people I know take classes perpetually. Pottery class. Weaving class. Writing class. Stone wall building class. Cooking class. Spanish class. Bible class. They have a never-ending hunger to learn more. In Door County we have a number of quality programs that allow us to stretch, grow, and learn.
Likewise, I know some people that haven’t touched a book since they graduated college. It’s not the accomplishment, but their pride in the accomplishment that is troublesome. Book learning is the only way to learn. As human animals we are forever acquiring new skills. We can recognize our deficiencies and overcome them. We can also recognize our deficiencies and glide ignorantly through the rest of life choosing to remain deficient.
At times, I WANT to glide ignorantly through life, but I can’t. I am a better cook because Jackson has taught me a few things I didn’t know about cooking. I am a better father because Chris has taught me a few things that I didn’t know about fatherhood. I am a better pastor because I spend two weeks a year with other pastors who teach me a few things that I didn’t know about pastoring.
Can we learn what we don’t know about being a human? Is it too late to learn forgiveness? Is it too late to develop compassion? Or grace? Or patience? Or mercy? Or do we resign ourselves to NOT knowing, not caring, not trying?
We can learn IF:
1. We admit that we don’t know everything. If we admit we don’t know everything, maybe we can also admit that we don’t know what we don’t know.
2. We spend some time with people who demonstrate to us better ways, better selves, and better alternatives to our own ignorance.
After 25 years, I’m willing to go back and learn what I don’t know about Moravian Theology. After 50 years, I’m willing to go back and learn what I don’t know about love, compassion, forgiveness, grace, and mercy.
I hope you can and will, too.
I love you.
I need you.
I hope for you.
Please be safe.