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Esoteric is esoteric

Some experiences from today:

  1. Today I was sitting around a table with some friends, and, as has become almost inevitable, the subject of Graduate School of Theology came up. This group was fairly diverse (in a relative sense) - meaning males and females, graduates, undergraduates, and many different majors. Somehow the topic arose regarding how far separated Bible majors are from the language and life of the rest of the student body. I generally agree with this, as I see firsthand how GST students tend to live in their own type of world and have relatively little contact with the way life is run outside of the halls of theological academia. Several of these students agreed wholeheartedly with the sentiment that theological students seem to be in their own enclave. This then turned to the use of language, with the point being that GST-types tend to speak in a language that is generally unknown or uninteresting to most others. I attempted to point this out by providing an example from a highbrow theological lecture I attended on Thursday night. My sentence went something like "She answered the question by pointing to a very esoteric...." which was then might by a huge "WHAT IS ESOTERIC???" from everyone. I guess this puts me in that group. I thought esoteric was a word more people knew. Apparently it is not, and that's okay. But it is something that completely invalidated my point and only assigned me deeper into a world in which people on the whole simply have no interest. Also, saying the words "penal substitutionary atonement" sounds absolutely ridiculous around people outside of the Theological Ivory Tower, yet is such a vogue thing to discuss among my ilk.

  2. I sat in the chair and knew that something was wrong. The girl cutting my hair was obviously having a terrible day. I didn't really know where to go with this but something really nagged me to pursue this. So I went with it and eventually discovered that she had recently moved to Abilene to get away from a terrible divorce situation. She is 22 and has twin boys. She has a new boyfriend who is turning out to be a loser and she has no car, little money, and no idea what to do next. She feels like a complete failure as a mother and a woman. She is disgusted with the kinds of things that are talked about by the people working around her. Her boys' third birthday is tomorrow and she is barely able to provide for them, no less give them the kind of celebration they deserve.

    I didn't know what to do. So I listened. I asked questions about her kids, about how she is doing right now and what she needs. I paid her and told her I would pray for her and talk to some people who might be able to help her. So I'm going to and we'll see what happens.

What we have here is somewhat of a paradox of life. On the one hand, I am in a place where I am supposedly training for ministry. What does this look like? If I take stock right now it is writing exegesis papers on Hebrews 6, historical-critical reflections on the Heliland, Greek translations, and endlessly researched lectures on Biblical literalism in the 2nd century delivered to an audience of PhDs. Is this ministry? What does the socio-rhetorical Patristic Exegesis expert have to offer the suffering woman looking in the mirror about to cry because she couldn't even get a babysitter for her children so she could go to work? Am I walking around in a bunker that has no real place in the world? These are hard questions that I wrestle with every day. I want this to count for something and I want to have faith that it will and does. I just want to have experiences that show me how to embrace the heart of God more and how to bring that more into the world.


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