I wasnít sure what to write, and itís kind of dull, but here it isÖ
My 1000 post life-story
I was born and raised in the suburbs of St. Paul, MN. Most of my family still lives in Minneapolis-St. Paul. I was a good student, a semi-lousy athlete, and fairly introverted. I devoured books. The worst punishment my parents had for my siblings and I, when we were really rotten, was to forbid reading for two days. Our cousins thought this was nuts.
In high school I was active in drama, math team, and in cross-country ski team until my asthma got so bad that outdoor winter sports were impossible. I started taking classes at the community college five blocks from our home when I was a junior in high school, and graduated with an associate of arts degree one week after I graduated high school. While that should have meant I only need two more years for my Bachelorís degree, actually it took 12. (But thatís getting ahead of the story.)
I was also active in UMYF, and other church activities, including planning and organizing the Easter Sunrise Service one year. That was the first time someone suggested that I consider full-time ministry. I laughed in his face. The next time was a few years later, when I asked my pastor to write a college recommendation letter. He suggested I major in religious studies, with an eye towards attending seminary. I made a passionate (and not particularly tactful) speech about how God needs good engineers, and how no one takes seriously anything clergy say about God anyway, since itís their job to say it. When I think back on that one, I can almost hear God snickering.
Anyway, I headed off to Iowa State University to study mechanical engineering, which was my second choice major. My dad convinced me it was more practical than physics, which was my first choice. Iowa State is a good school for M.E., close to home (but not too close), one of my Dadís best friends was an alum and, most importantly, my high school sweetheart was accepted at Drake, 35 miles away. Ironically, we broke up Thanksgiving of our freshman year.
I made it through a year and a half before realizing that I was bored to death by engineering. I liked theoretical mathematics, all that real world stuff was dull. Unfortunately, the way I reached this conclusion was by noticing that I wasnít doing my homework or going to class. So I became one of the strangely large group of National Merit Scholars who drop out of college. I was extremely embarrassed about this for several years.
I worked several different jobs, trying to figure out what to do with my life, and was all the time very active in church, especially in a church theatre troupe, but also serving in various local and state-wide offices. I wonít recount my ďcallĒ experience here. There arenít really words that would fit around it. Suffice it to say that while I still believe that lay people are vastly more important than clergy, both in the world and in the church, it became increasingly clear that I was going to be one of those less important types. I was working as a caterer at the time, so I gave my two-years notice (hey, I wasnít in any hurry) and applied for candidacy for ordained ministry. Candidacy in the United Methodist Church is a five-stage process, it took about two years to be certified, then I applied to seminary.
I had the slight problem that seminary is graduate school Ė a masterís degree program Ė and I hadnít ever finished my bachelors. I had picked up a few credits here and there, and once I started candidacy I made an effort to finish, but I was still nine credits short. I was accepted anyway, on probation, and took a summer class and a couple of correspondence classes to make up the difference. The M-Div is a 3-4 year masters program, since it combines education in academic theology, church history, and biblical studies with practical classes in counseling, church management, etc. Itís a degree that suffers from multiple personality disorder Ė canít decide if itís grad school or vocational school. After my second year I accepted an appointment as a part time student pastor, dropped to part time student, and started commuting between my parish and school. For two years I put about 1000 miles a week on my car and rarely slept in the same state more than two nights in a row. Fortunately, in the second year my mom gave me the complete unabridged LotR trilogy on tape, which made the miles fly by.
After I graduated I expected a new appointment, since my position was ĺ time, but the two little churches in my parish decided that they wanted to go back to having a full-time pastor, and I was re-appointed to the same charge, full time. Iím on the ďpossible moveĒ list for this year, which means that around March Iíll start getting nervous every time the phone rings.
So thatís where I am now. I had way too much fun in the academic theology classes, so I expect that in 2-5 years Iíll be asking for appointment to attend school and applying to PhD programs in theology. I was a grad assistant for two different professors, enjoyed leading discussion groups and had people tell me I was a good lecturer. So after the PhD I might teach, or I might come back to serving local churches. Or God might have some other plan in mind, which no doubt Iíll be dragged into kicking and screaming. (Iím trying to practice obedience, but Jonah is still my patron saint.)
That was mostly all about church/school/work, so Iíll just throw in that I have a wonderful extended family, even though they are 200 miles away. My hobbies include cooking, gardening, pottery, and pathetic attempts to learn to play the hammered dulcimer. OSC is not quite my favorite author, though heís in the top five, and Speaker for the Dead is one of my ďif I were stranded on a desert islandĒ books. I realized after about the fifth time that someone commented, after I conducted a funeral for someone Iíd never met, ďIt was like youíd known her all her life,Ē that Andrew Wiggen, SftD, is in some weird way a mentor of mine.
Iíd like to thank the jatraqueros for keeping me sane in a town of under 500 people when Iím used to a big city. In real life Iím an excellent listener, online that translates into ďmostly invisible,Ē but Iím here considerably more often than I post. Coming here is one of my few chances to interact with people who watch the same movies and read the same books that I enjoy. Most of you are also a lot closer to my own age than most of my parishioners. And I donít have to watch my mouth for fear that youíll give my words more weight than they deserve. So thanks.