Thursday, January 27, 2011

Remembering my former life

Taking three theology classes is one of the best, and one of the worst, ideas I had about this quarter. The reasons for both are the same: my mind gets blown with new ways of thinking every class period. That means I have a mind-blowing experience 9 times a week: awesome and exhausting all at the same time.

Yesterday was an exceptionally exciting day as I learned a whole new vision of freedom and also a very different way to interpret the book of Hosea. I may write another blog to explain each of those, but what is more important than these radical new ideas, is the way I reacted to them.

I was excited and fully engaged. I could have spent hours just discussing these theories and ideas and just attempting to grasp their multi-faceted implications. I wanted, and needed, to digest them in the company of other students and professors because they were huge ideas that require long and thorough digestion. I was really excited to spend at least a class period on each of these, but was hoping we could spend a whole week of class on them. Can you see how excited I was? I was literally bouncing in my chair and furiously writing down almost everything the professor was saying. It was awesome.

The problem: as far as I could tell, no one else was half as interested as I was. I realized how apathetic students are towards learning. They are in the class to get the grade to get the degree to get out of school and into the world of fighting to make money. Maybe that is simplifying the life of an American college student a little too much, but then I wonder if it isn’t. Feel free to give me feedback, fellow students.

In my Hosea class the problem was also that no one, not even me, was willing to speak up and ask to go more in depth with this new, radical way to interpret Hosea. I am not sure anyone else thought it was possible, but I wanted to give them all the benefit of the doubt. Maybe others were just as excited as I was, they just felt outnumbered by the people who weren’t, or by our professor who did not give it much credence. Whatever the case, I was downright angry when he glossed over it, dismissing it as impossible, way too radical. Maybe he is right, but maybe he isn’t.

Most of my college life I have been an apathetic student, even in my last year of high school I was only doing the work to get the grade to get the degree to get out of school. Senior year we call it senioritis, but when I got to freshman year at college my senioritis was still with me, and it didn’t ever leave. Until I left and came back for my senior year, that is.

I love learning. I love discussing new ideas and challenging old thoughts with new, maybe impossible, thoughts. This quarter I love my classes not because they are easy or I can bullshit them, but because they challenge me to work harder, think deeper and go beyond the box of my former education. In Uganda this was encouraged and given lots of room to grow. Grades slowly faded in their importance and learning became the important thing; at least with some classes. Now, however, it is a fight for the grade, for the degree, for the job. It is all a fight. I don’t want to fight, I want to learn deeply and share that experience with other people. This is a problem when others do not share that desire. It’s hard to learn in a community when I am the only one in the community.

Though overall I felt discouraged by the end of the day, I am encouraged to catch a glimpse of the learner within me. To see this yearning for understanding, for learning beyond what gets me a decent grade, is beautiful, a side of myself I have not known within school since I was much younger. Now that I see it, however, I can see it was there all along. These past years of hating school I was still yearning to grow and learn and understand. That part of me was overwhelmed with having to grow and understand what the hell just happened in my family and in my life. Now that I have space and have experienced much healing I find learning within school is not only fun, but also it feeds my spirit and my brain!

How funny God is, that he took me far away from school, into a whole different mindset, in order to teach me how much I love school.

Shalom to you all!

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