Thursday, January 15, 2009

Back to school

As many of you know, I’ve gone back to school. I’ve started working on a Master of Arts Integrated Studies (MAIS) at Athabasca University. I’m hoping to have duel focus: Work, Organization, and Leadership and Community Studies. Should be fun.

I like the online learning environment, especially the forum/chat room format where we (students) discuss questions posed by the professor. It’s kinda like the usenet groups of 2000 years ago, minus the flame wars (so far).

I was drawn to the MAIS degree because of the integrated approach. My goals for the MAIS degree are:

1. To reflect deeply on community building and global change from a leadership perspective, drawing from a variety of disciplines, then

2. to bring this learning back to my parish context in order for the congregation to think more actively and act more thoughtfully on their call to be change agents in community.


Consequently, I see the MAIS degree as an opportunity for me to participate in a vigorous conversation with a variety of voices (both remembered and living), a conversation that that I hope will threaten and challenge, as well as encourage and equip me, personally and professionally, to be an mediator of positive change in my parish and the broader community.

At least that’s the plan.

I chose a secular degree (rather than a D.Min or some such thing) because I think, too often, Christians live in an intellectual bubble, assuming that what we know is all we need to know. Too many Christians suspend critical thought, especially about ourselves and our faith, opting instead for a comfortable groupthink that reinforces what we already believe, without asking important questions. Questions about how we know who or what God is, how we read the bible, how our biblical and theological traditions affect the way we relate to the world (if at all), how do we understand the bible as authoritative.

Secular thinkers aren’t afraid of those questions. Well, many Christians aren’t either. As followers of Jesus, I think we need to rummage around among the cultural/political/social assumptions that make up our faith tradition, tossing out that which is harmful, and lifting up that which gives life.

That’s also what I hope to do.

Here's Brahms' Academic Festival Overture to celebrate my new beginning:

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