Margaret and I went to a "Graduate Theology Dinner" last night at Xavier. I've been to one every year (this was number four). They provide wonderful wine and hors d'ouevres (btw, all you Protestants out there, get thee to a Catholic school! They know how to pick good wine). We mingle and watch each other hang up coats, gloves and scarves (and some have to put away big fur hats, ala George Costanza, too, depending on how cold it is).
The mingling includes the ever popular: "How many courses do you have left?" and "What will you do when you finish your degree?"
And by year four in the slow boat to China version of the program that Margaret and I have been on, we know the answer. Nothing. Or pizza delivery. Or coffee making. Or alphabetizing theology books in the basement bookcase...
For all you closet fundamentalists reading this blog, your deepest fears are warranted. The study of theology leads to (gasp, wince) apostasy. Insert Beethoven's 5th here.
Fortunately it also leads to silliness, sanity, and the ability to not take life so seriously... and that's good news.
Last night at this ::ahem:: academic dinner, the primary speaker (a mid-thirties Ph.D. who wears clear braces and sported a multi-colored tie) gave a talk that used CSI as the template for his material. He finished and was followed by a slide show that depicted for us The Gospel of Tom (no, not Thomas, as in the Coptic Gospel) - as in Tom "the Christ" Cruise. Oh my word! Too funny. (Did you know that the Church of Scientology claims that Tom, is, in fact, the Messiah and future generations will know it and revere him?)
Top Gun and Top God!
In years past, one of the more mature members of the teaching staff would present "a paper." (Translation: read a paper). Good content, of course. The obligatory one or two crowd warmer jokes. This year, though, the serious was overcome by the cheerful, hopeful, gently humorous and ridiculous. And my oh my how I appreciated it.
Somehow in the midst of having taken life so seriously, having had the need to nail down the mysteries enough to claim for myself a list of beliefs I could stand for and defend, champion and embrace, I've dribbled out the other end with a sense of humor and little clarity. I have loads of appreciation for myriad views. I have great respect for any Ph.D. who devotes so much grey matter to the mastery of any single topic in the universe (I almost feel like we need to give them all personal entourages to protect those meaty brains from any wayward bullets that might kill the human libraries that they are - at the least, they all need blood pressure medicine on the university dime, I'd say.)
The truth is, I have come to agree with my revered Dr. Dewey. All of this stuff is just too important to take so seriously. It's a relief, I tell you, to be almost at the end and to laugh about it. There's something zen like in this reaction, I think. How appropriate.