So you clicked on this because you really want to know why I am a seminarian and not in a graduate writing, journalism or literature program — a modern-day man of letters.
This was indeed the trajectory on which I had placed myself as recently as early spring, 2004. I had no interest in pursuing an education in God. I was not at odds with The Almighty, I had not had a crisis of faith (those occurred in my teens and will no doubt return someday — probably after I graduate). I had decided to join the innumerable ranks of the laity who had decided to let their everyday life and work be a testament to their love of God.
The odd and occasionally off-putting thing about Christianity is the right for God to do with his redeemed “property” as he pleases. There is a literary conceit in the prophetic books of Isaiah and Jeremiah in which a narrator asks if a potter has a right to make of the clay what he will. Paul carries this tradition in the New Testament in his letter to the Church at Rome.
I believe that to be Christian is to experience a conversion of water and spirit and following that conversion, one is to live a life obedient to Christ. In his mercy, however, God uses our struggles to persuade us that his way is truly best.
Here is what it means within the context of my life: I grew disillusioned with my literature courses at UC Santa Cruz over what I felt was a failure to answer deeper questions regarding life and its purpose. This malaise reached its nadir during my Proust class, in which the author summarizes at the end of his mammoth masterpiece “In Search of Lost Time” that the purpose of life is to create art. I also found myself immersed in Scripture during this season of frustration, Ecclesiastes in particular. At the conclusion of Solomon’s wisdom book, he writes that the conclusion of his exploration into life’s meaning is to “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
Armed with a new purpose and writing and analytical skills culled at the feet of some of the best professors in the land, I applied to seminary to apply my learning for the good of the body of Christ.
It has not been easy. There seems to be an almost anti-intellectual zeitgeist in broader Christianity; any glance of the “Christianity” section at booksellers nationwide will reveal a penchant for the quick-and-easy answers. Hard-fought struggles to know the unadorned Christ of the Scriptures is increasingly unpopular, but I feel called to educate the people on the God of the Bible. I can do no less. My salvation came at too high of a price to present a wooden effigy of the God I have been mercifully allowed to begin to know.
I still publish in select newspapers. I also plan to write fiction and nonfiction works, as soon as things slow down a bit. But my passion is giving my time and effort to God to help reconcile the prodigals of this world back to him.
This is why I am a seminarian.