Vocation is What You do when You’re You

Halfway into my three year graduate degree, I had a problem: I  hated what I was doing. But I was getting paid to do it. I wanted to quit, but I couldn’t walk away from a free education. Several of the other Woodruff Fellowship students in my class were in the same quandary. We didn’t like coming to campus each day, but we couldn’t justify quitting.

I didn’t stop caring on purpose. It just… happened. But even on autopilot, my grades never dipped below A-. I appeared to be a put-together, invested student. Because I was very good at doing what I hated. But I had didn’t care what happened in the campus, in the classroom, in my thesis. I opted to do a thesis my third year purely because it was six credits I didn’t have to do in a classroom. I chose my class not by “courses I want to take” but by “professors that won’t make me want to drop out eight times a day, even though I’m only four months from graduation.”

Somewhere in that final year, working with professors who were entirely reasonable (if, for some unfathomable reason, committed to a bureaucratic school in a hell-hole of a Southern city), I realized: I hated seminary–I didn’t hate life. Continue reading

Should Millenials Spend More Time in Church?

This is an article I wrote in response to Kate  Baer’s article “Why We’re Not Going to Church,” published in the Mennonite World Review on March 12, 2013. Here it is again, with a few minor changes.

I’m 24 years old. I’m a seminary student who will graduate in May. I’m applying for pastoral positions in the Mennonite Church. And Kate Baer started a lot of discussions in the last 48 hours, so I want to try and respond.

I agree with Kate that “our generation is tired of culture wars.” Or, as bell hooks writes, “organized religion has failed to satisfy spiritual hunger because it has accommodated secular demands, interpreting spiritual life in ways that uphold the values of a production-centered commodity culture.” And if the way to avoid hypocrisy is to avoid church, to most of us, that seems like a healthy response. Church is exhausting. Defending church — especially to your non-Christian friends — is exhausting. Our generation wants a church that entertains, but we also want a church that is honest. Continue reading