This afternoon, I watched part of a talk from the Wild Goose Festival (Soul of the Next Economy). Pamela Wilhelms works in leadership development and one of the aspects she is involved in is helping companies shift from old paradigms which use mechanised systems to embracing living systems models. She mentions that it is much easier for her to sit with executives from Google and talk about body life as a model for leading their organisation than it is to broach the same topic with church leaders. Interesting.
What is it about our Christian traditions that makes us so resistant to exploring other viewpoints or new models of engaging with God and with each other? Jesus encountered the same rigidity in the religious leaders of his day, and it appears that not much has changed. It is embarrassing how unteachable we as followers of Jesus can be. We begin our journey with Jesus desperate for transformation. We are attracted to new life and committed to ongoing growth, but somewhere along the way, we seem to lose these values. Are we so convinced that we have found the truth that we are no longer moved by it?
I went back to studying theology several years ago because I thought I would find it interesting. It continues to be an incredible adventure. It challenges me to see things in a new light and invigorates my appetite for exploration. It humbles and confuses and mystifies me. It makes me ask questions instead of assuming I know the answers. It reminds me that I have only scratched the surface of what it means to engage with God. It has also brought me into contact with many voices from the past who have much wisdom to offer, both by their mistakes and their successes. I believe that followers of Jesus should be the most eager learners on the planet and the most humble and faithful students, pursuing truth while recognising his complex, dynamic, and loving nature.
Here is something I wrote after I finished my first year of graduate studies in theology:
"A lack of love results in premature, biased conclusions. A lack of love allows us to categorise theories and opinions without coming face to face with the truth that we need to be examined every bit as much as the data or the text. Love and humility open the door to genuine learning that is not only enlightening, but transforming.
Theology is an invitation. It is a welcome mat. It invites us to come and bring all our thinking about life, about meaning, about truth, about unity, about justice, about the Divine, and to submit it to careful, courageous, sometimes slightly messy, but always loving, interaction. It invites us not only to study the grand story, but to give it a place to grow in us.
I believe that a skilled theologian is able to explain profound concepts to a scholar as well as to a 5-year-old. And a good theologian knows that she can learn a thing or two from a 5-year-old as well. Children appreciate mystery more than we adults do because they do not feel the need to explain things that only ask to be wondered at. And in the adventure that is theology, one must always be willing to be surprised by wonder: wide-eyed, wordless, reverent, and loving wonder."
-Matte (trying to be a life-long learner)
the photo: looking out from a friend's apartment on the day she moved into her new place.