I know I haven’t blogged in awhile, but I have a good excuse… at least I think it’s a good excuse. I’ve moved across the country to Pasadena, CA in order to study Theology and Culture at the Center for Advanced Theological Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. So I figured it would be good to share why I’ve made this huge move with the lot of you. So here goes.
As long as I can remember, I’ve always harbored an interest in the reality that exists beyond the edge of our senses. As a child this manifested itself as an interest in “mysteries” such as Bigfoot, Aliens, and the Loch Ness Monster. In fact, I was so interested in studying these and other unexplained “phenomena” that I told my grandparents at age 8 that I wanted to be a “phenomenal scientist”; though at the time I didn’t understand why they chuckled when I shared this. Truth be told, that fascination with mystery has never left me, and has been near the core of my spiritual life. Over time my interest in these phenomena waned, though I still have soft spot for a good Bigfoot story. My interest in mystery, however, has remained.
In my teens I was confronted by and came to trust the mystery of God’s love bound up in the person and story of Jesus. I remember the joy of newness and discovery, and the growing sense that the God revealed by Jesus represented a vast unknown country waiting to be explored. There’s a sense in which that exploration is an apt metaphor for the manner in which I relate to God. I’m continually rounding the next bend on the road, hoping to learn something new, while constantly trying to integrate each new insight into my schema and actions.
Through all of these developments in my spiritual life, my second first love was music. I would spend hours locked away in my room listening to vinyl. I wanted badly to play music, but had a hard time learning to play instruments, and was later disappointed to learn that I could not sing. I did however possess rhythm. So, holed up in my room, listening to my records, I taught my self to play the drums. This ability to play music, as it turned out, became another avenue to encounter God. Up to that point, my connection with music had been largely emotional, but as I learned to play I seemed to stumble upon moments of what I can only describe as transcendence. As I played with other musicians, I experienced moments when the thin veil that separates the seen from the unseen seemed to become diaphanous, and what followed could be as varied as moments of insight to pure joy. I came to realize that creative endeavors such as music, novels, film, and visual art were as necessary as reason in my exploration of the Divine mystery.
This leads to the question of what to do with this keen interest in the intersection then of theology and the arts. This naturally leads into the notion of vocation. It seems the exploration of this intersection is something that suits me and I it, which lead me down this path toward doctoral studies.
I believe that my natural curiosity is part of my vocation, and that my drive to learn the manner in which my predecessors and contemporaries arrange and rearrange the conceptual blocks that make up not only theology, but the arts as well serves as a base on which I would like to continue to build. You could view this as the outermost boundary of three concentric circles.
The second concentric circle is that of a teacher. Teaching is something I enjoy immensely, and which I see as directly related to the “student circle”. I enjoy introducing others to the ideas and theologies of those who endeavored to make sense of God in their times and cultural contexts which might help to then make sense of our experiences and the experiences of others, and I enjoy learning from others in that process. I understand the danger of sounding cliché here, but I do find that I learn much from teaching others that I never would have learned otherwise, which allows me to be useful, and continue to feed my core student.
The third concentric circle is influence. I would ultimately like to influence the manner in which the church interprets and manifests its relationship with the culture in which it exists. I would like to be one drawing the church toward a fuller embodiment of the Gospel of Grace, and I believe the arts are indispensable in both the Church’s interpretation and manifestation to this end. That however is the BIG goal, and sounds much higher minded than I intend it to. Really I want to be one voice in the conversation, but hopefully one worth listening to.
At any rate, that’s why my family and I picked up stakes and moved 2700 miles across the country, so that I could more thoroughly explore that undiscovered country, and attempt to share it with others, and allow God to do what God would like with what I offer.