Monday, November 22, 2010

J-term time!

by Carl Mattias

This has been a week of revelation! I realized that I had to apply for a J-term course (again with a lot of courses that are not available in Sweden, and I want to take.) That there is no "doom Sunday" in the church year of ELCA (instead you have "Christ the King Sunday") and Thanksgiving is something much greater here in the US then I originally though. What I am going to focus on this time around though, is my concern when I was about the apply for the J-term.

What should I choose? One of those intellectual and interesting courses, one of those super-practical courses where you go away to another city, something in between or something I never would chose otherwise? That made me once again think about the differences between seminary in Sweden and seminary in the US (see the post "my impressions so far part 2" for more info. Jenny's post about "making theology practical" also came to mind). When I think back to my fellow students at seminary (and myself) I sometimes feel like we are removed from reality and put into the small world that is the seminary and the people we meet there. The returning question for me has always been "how do I get a wider perspective?" Going to abroad (to the US) for a year to study certainly helped widen my perspectives and I got to see a whole different system on how to study theology! When I look at the pastors (primarily those in Sweden), the main issue does not seem to be that they feel or seem removed from "reality," rather the opposite. Many of the pastors I have met seems to be removed from theology! Now how can this be? Do they get too much of it at seminary and then forget about it? Or do they think they have gotten enough of it to last for a lifetime? (I have to admit that I even I feel like that sometimes.)

What I like to think is that seminary is a time for learning, preparing and laying the foundation for my theology and what I am going to do. Internship and doing practical things from time-to-time helps as a reminder to what I really am studying for. And that is what I think many pastors fail to do, making theology practical both in theory and in practice. Seminary does not alway help with preparing for what is to come when you are a pastor. But you can use seminary to help you to prepare for what is to come. Thus my final choice for J-term was a course that was both theoretical and practical!


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