First impressions of Eden Theological Seminary:
- It looks almost as Hogwartsian as Washington University in St. Louis.
- Despite the small size of its program, students at Eden have private lives. Everyone does not know everything about everyone else. However, they do have an intimate community and people do feel close to one another. A student said it like this: “As ministers, we have learned the importance of privacy and keeping things in confidence.” I think a certain social work program could take a leaf out of Eden’s book in this respect… not naming names or anything… ;)
- Eden students are good at singing. Not quite as good as Church of Christ students, who crawl out of the womb singing in perfect harmony, but close. I sat in on a choir rehearsal and the person conducting said, “Now make sure to get that hiccup– that hiccup of air is really crucial to the song,” all the while insistently pointing his finger at his ear to make sure that we really listen to the pitch of his voice (which by the way, had an incredible range like Nick Pitera).
- Eden is open and affirming, or at least tries to be. Christopher Grundy, a professor of music, spoke about how a song he composed for Transfiguration Sunday was inspired by his experiences with getting to know an individual who was transgendered at a United Church of Christ camp. The lyrics speak to the idea of changing one’s appearance to align God’s intended vision for a person with the person that everyone else sees. After singing the song, Grundy said, “Lots of hymns can be queered,” to which multiple people in the audience responded with Amens and clapping. Not a single boo was heard. Unfortunately, I have heard from a member of the LGBT community that Eden talks the talk, but does not always walk the walk. This sounds like an area of improvement and an indication of a greater need to strengthen bridges between the Eden community and members of the LGBT community outside of Eden.
Transfigure me so that I might be
more like Jesus, more like Jesus
transfigure me so that I might be
more like Jesus, Jesus my light
Take me up to the mountain
shine your light down on me
’til the person you have always intended
is the person everybody can see
- Wi-fi is hard to get. At least the times I’ve tried. Come on, Eden! It’s the 21st century! I can get a password to enter Internet in the on-campus apartments, but connecting as a guest outside of the apartments was difficult.
- Eden is a bit difficult to access via public transportation. There is one bus stop right outside, and you can walk to another bus stop, but you need to take a bus to the Shrewsbury Metrolink in order to get most places.
- Webster Groves is cute! There was a cafe called “Cyranos” and even though I haven’t read the play, but just knowing that the cafe is there makes my little nerdy heart feel a little fluttery.
- People park on the lawn.
- Students have convection ovens. What in the world are those? Apparently they can also function as microwaves. And if you are smart enough, you can also bake in them. But I still don’t know what that means.
- THERE ARE STRIPED TULIPS ON CAMPUS OH SPRING HOW I LOVE THEE
- Seminary students are friendly and nice, and there is age diversity.
- If you get married on campus in the summer, prepare for temperatures over 100 degrees and to bake in the chapel.
- You can study policy in seminary. There are advocacy settings for contextual education.
- Seminary students don’t just do navel gazing. One student I met was writing a paper on the cost of war, and how the US exports more arms than a bunch of other nations combined. We are the police force of the world, partly because war is an economic driver and it’s expensive and not popular to take care of our veterans. Should that be the case? Hm…
- Seminary students also do navel gazing. Seminary papers are often 20 pages long, often including personal reflection. When I asked about the last time students cried, the answer was that it’s not so much common to cry during class, but after class, not just from adjustments in personal life, but also because of what people are realizing about themselves from the classes, writing and reflections they are doing.
- Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies is more for people who are pretty sure what they want to do with their lives, often with jobs already in place. A Master of Divinity is more open and flexible, but with more history and theology, so I am thinking of switching from MAPS to MDiv. So… maybe if I ever decide I should get ordained….
- Many students are here from a variety of paths and some as second careers, ranging from being an art student, voice student, bank teller to architect. I like that. In social work, you are likely to find certain professions not being represented– I’m thinking mainly of business and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), and I think we lose out on important insights and lessons whenever there is less diversity (goes for age, race, ethnicity, ability, professional background, academic background, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, etc.).
Unrelated: Of course I would have a seed and a piece of a chip stuck in my teeth in my first picture at Eden.