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"Back to School" - Monday Moment - August 14, 2023

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

Happy Monday, friends! I was at church recently just in time for our “back to school blessing” over everyone going back to school or embarking on a new educational experience. Like many church communities people got called out for not coming forward—educators and bashful college students among them. Mercifully, our pastor did not use the opportunity to call me out (I only have so many “new guy” Sundays left). Yes, I’m returning to school this Fall. Approximately a year after completing my doctorate, I have the blessing to be enrolling at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO) with the intention to complete the Master of Divinity and pursue ordination.


But ordination was not the primary reason I applied to seminary at this moment in my life. The primary goal was to add a theological context to my work with LOVEboldly and broader faith-based advocacy. You see, despite spending most of my life with my nose in one theologically focused book or another, I haven’t studied theology formally save a few courses in undergrad and in my doctorate. Before this degree is about ordination and checking the boxes to reach that goal, this degree is about me taking on a passion and giving it greater context.


We all could use a chance to “go back to school.” We need time to consider what we were taught and whether or not those things are accurate and life giving for us. In fact, we don’t have to go to seminary, college, or any formal institution to educate ourselves about what we’ve been taught. We can read, we can discuss with others, and we can explore the stories of others. In this way many of us have deconstructed our faith and have constructed new, often more freeing theologies and spiritualities. But while faith deconstruction is a great place to start, friends, we have other things to deconstruct as well. We need to deconstruct the racism, sexism, and heterosexism we were taught implicitly and explicitly through school and socialization. Indeed, racism, sexism, and, particularly more recently, heterosexism have allowed a small class of rulers to control nearly every society in history.


We need to “go back to school” and be educated, not just taught. Educators know that education is a process and is so much more than just what is “taught in the classroom.” Think about your own education, who were your favorite teachers (librarians, coaches, and administrators included)? I’d wager a guess that they were the teachers who pushed you to think beyond the curriculum, who invested their time in your success, who went out of their way to make sure you grew not only as a student, but a human. Those teachers are educators because their practice embraces so much more than just instruction. Pink Floyd might have argued that “we don’t need no education,” but they confused education with instruction which is the “thought control” we also don’t need. As adults, we need to be educated about what we’ve been taught. We need to go back to school.


What were you taught that you need to unlearn? How can you go back to school?


Let us pray: Almighty God, the Parent of Jesus Christ, we your servants implore your blessing upon all schools. Give the spirit of wisdom to all those to whom you have given the authority of educating and of administration. Let the students grow in grace day by day; enlighten their minds, purify their hearts, and sanctify their wills. Bless all those who contribute to schools and their communities. This we ask through Jesus Christ. Amen.

[Paraphrased from “The University Prayer” of Sewanee: The University of the South.]


Blessings on your weeks, my friends! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.


Faithfully,


Ben


This Monday Moment is dedicated to several of the best educators in my life including Sandy Seals (gratus memoria), Cathi LaPlante, Trudy Cunningham, Jim Peters, Kathy Cook (gratus memoria), Stacey Miller, and Jake Bryant.

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