I like learning. I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Divinity degree. I like to read. And I like to build book shelves for the books I like to read. I’ve always liked school, book-learning as well as learning new skills. When my parents passed away in 2011, all manner of memorabilia made it’s way to me- my kindergarten through junior high report cards among them! I remember trying to show my kids how solid my grades were even as a youngster, but what they noticed instead were the teacher’s written comments.
“Timmy talks too much!” Says so right here, Dad, on your kindergarten report card! Wait, your first grade teacher says you needed to work on getting along with your classmates better. And that your printing could be neater. And that you liked music class but spent more time talking than singing! Dad!
Ok, maybe I like learning so much because… there was always a need for me to grow up, get along better with others (and stop talking without permission). One curious thing I noticed about my report cards is that in the first few weeks of being in a new grade level, it would say “Timmy could use some real improvement in ________________ (subject).” But by the time the last report period came out: “Timmy has made a lot of progress this year – we’re very satisfied with his achievement. I highly recommend he move up to the next grade level.” I always seemed to make great strides that last 6 week grading period. Hmmm.
I’m taking two classes this spring.
Because I love learning (and my bookshelves still have some open spaces) I signed up for a course about racism, and a training class for marriage counseling. I probably should explain both. One thing I love about InterVarsity Graduate Faculty Ministry is that I get to be around people who teach, research, write and lecture on fascinating subjects in every discipline you could imagine from plasma-physics to sociology. When I noticed GFM was co-sponsoring a course on the subject of race (for faculty members) I jumped on board. Making sense of the historical and political context we live in has never seemed more urgent to me than now. I’ve exposed myself to no small amount of reading and training on race, gender and class throughout my ministry career and seminary training. But the current unrest of our country among people groups I am called to minister makes me want deeper explanations. 2020 troubled me greatly. It still does.
Why Does Blackness Matter? is being offered through a partnership between InterVarsity Faculty Ministries and The Veritas Forum. If you’re seriously curious about the course content, you can get a look at the syllabus at the link down below. It’s a deep, revisionist dive into the American story evaluating the impact of slavery and its many ongoing economic and social bi-products. It’s not only a story about the glaring racism that has historically caused such episodic damage. It’s also a bigger story about systemic injustice with stubborn roots that have never been fully dealt with. Racism is just the presenting surface, racialization is the underground network of causal tributaries – quite alive and well in today’s America.
I hope you pray for our country regularly. I’m still trying to learn how to do that myself. The needs seem to get deeper and darker the older I become. The Kingdom of Jesus has it’s work cut out if it’s to heal the wounds still festering in a nation divided by race and class. Pray for my learning. If it was true of me that I talked too much when I weighed 48 lbs and was 45 inches tall, I’m sure it’s true I still have a lot of listening and learning to do before God is finished with me.
Oh, yeah, the second class. Can’t go into a lot of details just yet, but I have been getting requests to officiate weddings! The marriage counseling course is so I can be an official Prepare and Enrich facilitator and administer their assessment tool with engaged couples. And exactly which engaged couples am I referring to? Stay tuned.