Friday, February 20, 2009

Short-timers Syndrome

"I really don't care about Romans." My comment sent shockwaves through the classroom as students filed in, progressively assembling for the class period (on the exegesis of Romans) about to start. I had timed my burst of spontaneous sincerity to occur before the professor arrived. Also, in all honestly, perhaps I had employed just a little hyperbole to help the effect. I can be quite deviant at times.

Nevertheless, the budding exegetes unfolding their materials and opening their laptops recoiled in horror at such an admission. "You don't care about Romans? How can you say that?" Unable to stomach my defiant declaration, their eyes widened from behind steamy glasses. "Because I don't get my theology from exegesis," I told them. "My theology comes from the Creeds, and the confessions of the tradition I serve in. Do you really suppose that my careful examination of the Greek text penned by Paul is going to result in a watershed breakthrough in the doctrine of justification?" OK, perhaps I was being a little over-the-top, but my sentiments were sincere.

They were born chiefly of general fatigue of exegetical analysis. I'm so glad this is my final semester at DTS. I must confess that seminary has, mysteriously, produced some of the most nourishing and dry spiritual times of my life (simultaneously!). Depending on the subject or the day, the material might spur pious reflection that resulted in devotional praise or it might contribute to a numb apathy toward spiritual matters. The very thing that you scarf down on one occasion might make you gag a day or so later. Therefore, I was not saying the book of Romans holds no value for me ever; just that I'm sick of it right now.

This differs considerably from my earlier time in seminary (sometimes mistakenly pronounced "cemetery"). For the last 5 years I've found interest in almost every class; even the painfully boring ones (yes, they have those too at DTS). I didn't feel like this a mere six months ago. However, six months ago I did not have the end so closely in sight with the good possibility of a ministry career poised visibly at the end of the tunnel.

It was be "short-timers syndrome." That peculiar phenomenon in which the work that one once found fulfilling suddenly has lost its savor. It's as if I pigged out on a favorite food, and now feeling quite bloated cannot endure the smell of it anymore. I have a great desire, and the accompanying motivation, to finish seminary well, fulfilling all requirements. However, honesty must prevail. This means that while I desire the equipping that seminary stills offers, it doesn't mean I have to care about all the material presented. Some things I find more interesting than others, and graduation will offer the freedom to focus on those subjects and less on the topics that surely interest someone else more than me.

1 comment:

Jude said...

"My theology comes from the Creeds, and the confessions of the tradition I serve in. Do you really suppose that my careful examination of the Greek text penned by Paul is going to result in a watershed breakthrough in the doctrine of justification."

You said you were being over the top - by that do you mean you were being sarcastic? 'Cause I can't imagine you actually believing that.