Monday, February 02, 2015

Another Snow Day

Last night, before I went to bed, I prayed fervently that we'd not have a snow day today. One of my seminars, "Theology in a Secular Age," meets each Monday and it's a topic in which I'm keenly interested. The main text for the course is Charles Taylor's A Secular Age, a sprawling tome in which the author attempts to answer the question, "Why was it virtually impossible not to believe in God in, say, 1500 in our Western society, while in 2000 many of us find this not only easy, but even inescapable?" 

The book is a very long, and very challenging, narration of how we got to be where we are today. It is a story far more complicated than the one we typically hear. The typical narrative runs something like this: In the old days, when we didn't know as much as we do now, we needed to believe in a God to explain lots of things. But as we advanced in science and technology, we were able to shake off these silly beliefs and settle into a world governed only by what we've learned. Consequently, religion can now be seen as training wheels: they were necessary for a time but now that we've learned to do it on our own, wholly inessential and oftentimes just in the way."

Taylor dares to ask the question: "Must it have been so and not otherwise?" If today we find many challenges to believe, was this inevitable or is contemporary unbelief more complicated than we've been led to believe? Taylor does not see unbelief as an inevitability and his text records an effort to re-tell our story in a manner attentive to the many micro-stories that have come together to shape who we are today. 

Thus you can imagine why I'd not want to miss a single class! Our seminar's slow reading through Taylor's text (for the first half of the semester) is an absolute treat. As I've said before, I'm so grateful to be working on my PhD this year and courses such as this really set my imagination on fire. So when I woke up this morning and saw a 5:36 am text that said class had been cancelled, I was disappointed...a far cry from those days of being a student, or even a teacher, when I longed for the snow day!


Priestly ordination is now just over four months away. After years of the question, "Ryan, when are you going to be ordained?" I can now say, "Just a few months!" There's a good bit of planning to be done, of course, but I'm really trying to enjoy these last months of preparation.

Some time ago, an Irish dancing friend and I met for a glass of wine and we chatted about priesthood. I expressed to her my own doubts - natural doubts, I suspect - about whether I'd ever be good enough, or qualified enough, or holy enough. Her response lingers with me: As long as you're trying to be the priest you're called to be, you'll always be the priest we need.

I'll post ordination day information here pretty soon. It will be in Chicago on June 13th and the church is quite large so it does not seem that space will be an issue so, if you're a Chicago-based reader, feel free to join! 

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