end of a class – the legacy of open questions

I just finished teaching a 10 day intensive for Fuller Seminary on Christian Ethics.  As an exercise in community, intensives have always felt like a parody in many ways – akin to the ‘new car smell’ that car companies spray into the seats of cars before they roll off the assembly line… smells real but is far from it.  Granted, I know that teaching flexible format courses – online, distance learning, intensives – is just a reality of the current situations that most students find themselves in as they attempt to balance classes, working to pay for classes, and families and friends and ministries they are enmeshed in.  That said – as a faculty member teaching these classes – I find the experience terribly draining spiritually and psychologically as I try to get through difficult material in a timely manner yet still allow space for the engagement of deep and abiding learning in light of ministry.  I am a teacher (like many teachers) who desires to know my students and teach to the space in which they find themselves called to.  Spending 10 days with them focused on plowing through ethically challenging questions doesn’t give much room for that.  Many of the challenges we had together as a class would have been alleviated if we had simply spent time getting to know each other at some level, learned to trust one another, and then entered into these complex questions of poverty, just war theory, abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, etc.    True, we may have emerged with the same disagreements and unanswered questions as we did this week.  But as opposed to seeing the questions as unaswered, the depth of relationship would have framed them as open questions to continue journeying through.

I pray that the students find some community to wrestle with these difficult questions and wish I could continue to the journey with them, but the week is done and so is our context.

Go with God, my friends.  Journey well…

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  1. I don’t want to sound like I’m harping on them, but I do have to admit that my first thought was: 10 days would have been a luxury at BGU!

    I don’t blame them for my inability to get the work done though – I’m just not disciplined enough to do all that writing by myself, without ongoing class discussions, etc. to keep me motivated. Even then, it’s near-torture to get the thoughts from my brain to the page!

    I loved the lecture part of the class though – you really did an excellent job, and I think we (the students) felt pretty comfortable engaging in discussion with one another.

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