Saturday, August 25, 2012

Adventuring, ancient language style.

At first, the concept of learning Greek seemed like a formidable mountain, of which I only knew tales of woe or victory.  My mother easily recalls the fateful day her summer Greek course ended--it involved collapsing on a couch in exhaustion and beloved Aunt Darline coming to her with hands full of Peanut Buster Sundaes to celebrate the end of declensions, participles, and deponent verbs.  On another side of the spectrum, my father continues to understand Greek so well that he even has an application on his phone that is the Greek New Testament and pulls it out during church on Sunday!

Yesterday, I stepped out out of my Greek course confident in my ability to translate Greek.  My translation sure is not perfect but I am able to understand the text and argue about fine points of translation, which I would say is a huge step in the right direction.

Where do I fit in on the scale of this Greek mountain?

I didn't collapse but I certainly was ready for these 6 weeks to be o-v-e-r.  Will I still be able to translate 20 years from now?

Only time will be able to tell.  Monos kronos duvatai leyeiv.

The thing about studying Greek that blows my mind is the fact that all of the grammar lessons and discussions about whether a noun is nominative or accusative really do lead me (and the other students) into this brand new world of discovering the Bible in the text it was written in.  This concept seems so obvious, but the moment that you gain a new insight because of the Greek word choice, if feels as if I have learned how to see a color that wasn't available before.  Every time I get to a verse that I recognize within the first few words, I cannot help but smile to myself and get ready for my mind to be blown, Greek-style.

Friday, August 10, 2012

I'm in Seminary, but I'm not Crazy!

One of the first questions people ask me when they meet me is, "Why did you move out to Berkeley?  Are you attending CalBerkeley?"

Before I answer, my heart gives a little sigh.  It is as if my soul is saying, "Alright, here comes the first test."  What will this person think once I tell them that I am here to attend a Lutheran seminary? That I will be spending four years of my life studying theology and pastoral care and Lutheran traditions?  Whenever I tell people this, I feel like I want to tack on, "But I'm not crazy!"

I can imagine you readers out there might think, "Stick to your guns, Kaitlin! Be proud of how far you have come!"  I am very proud of who I am, where I am, and what I am doing with my life--but how far can I really go whilst in a casual conversation to explain that society's stereotype of a Christian is very far from who I am as a Lutheran?

This is not something only seminarians struggle with.  How can you get across a message of love, justice, and grace when there is so much hate surrounding the idea of Christianity in our culture?  I think I might be answering my question as I write this, because the reason I am going to seminary is so that as a religious leader, I can continue to provide compassion, intellect, and grace for people who have not found it before in a religious context.

In short, what  I want to say to each person that asks me about where I am in life is, " I attend seminary. I am in training to become a pastor/chaplain.  I can get married and (gasp!) have sex. I can drink alcohol.  I am a person who might stay up too late, make mistakes, make dirty jokes, and dance ridiculously. I am compassionate and want to support people when they are at their lowest moments.  I am logical and enjoy questioning the things that I believe, in order to gain a deeper perspective.  I want to hear your opinion on spirituality and religion, especially if you do not believe anything, because you still have that hunger to belong to something. To believe in something.  I hope you find meaning in your lifetime; any meaning.  I have no agenda but to support people in their struggles with mortality and spirituality."

Think that is too much of a mouthful to say to a stranger you've just met?