(Originally posted at ClobberBlog)
Jill and I got up on Monday morning and headed across campus for breakfast. At breakfast I was explaining why I had been out of school for several years and talking about my mother’s illness and death due to pancreatic cancer, and there was a guy at the table named Brad who said that his own father currently has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. In fact, his father has had it for 19 months now; our parents were diagnosed at about the same time. I’m amazed that his father has been able to fight it for so long. Brad is thinking of doing an M.Div. degree at Trinity and he mentioned that he had been thinking about how seminary can never prepare a pastor to counsel someone on how to get through the death of a loved one, but through experiences like this, God can. That is the one thing I never counted on when my mother as dying: being able to connect with people like that because of it. Brad’s father is named Don and I’m sure they would appreciate your prayers.
They did a session on financial aid, which sounds like good news for me if Trinity is using undergraduate GPAs for determining scholarships and ignoring my botched year at the University of Utah. My undergraduate GPA was higher than 3.5 so I should qualify for some scholarships and grants. Then I left to attend a systematic theology class taught by John Feinberg.
The class was in the middle of a discussion of the differences between classical theism, open theism and process theism—interesting timing since we discussed open theism over at Tim’s blog recently. I have to say though, while my view of God is probably closer to classical theism than anything else, the lecture left me wondering if my interaction with Mormonism has borked my understanding of God without me ever knowing it. I mean, there are classical theists who teach that God can’t kick a football?? That’s not how I view God. I was not satisfied with what little I heard about classical theism’s understanding of the Incarnation and the hypostatic union either, although I only sat in on that tiny portion of the class. I really hope other lectures engage the hypostatic union better than what I heard.
I headed out into the foyer to browse what different community organizations there are on campus. Ooo, there’s a Trinity Society of Women. Maybe I can drag more grrlz into my Mormon-evangelical interfaith dialogue engagements. There’s also a Kids on Kampus club for Harley. There’s a Trinity Husbands Fellowship for the husbands of female students, but I’m not sure if P. wants to fellowship with a bunch of evangelical guys who will likely try to convert him, though I’ll try to get him to do it! There is a Trinity Artists Guild as well and I’m curious to know more about that for P.
It was faculty lunch time and I got to meet Scott Manetsch and Douglas Sweeney from the history department, both of whom were very nice. Sweeney is the faculty member I’ll be working with the most if I do my MA there, and I talked with him about wanting to do some emphasis on Mormon history. Illinois is actually great for that since it’s where Nauvoo is. Sweeney himself does not know a ton about LDS history, but that’s fine, the point of my desire to attend an evangelical college isn’t to deepen my understanding of Mormon theology and history, it’s to deepen my understanding of my own theology and history.
Finally I got to attend a graduate-level class taught by Sweeney on Protestant thought in 19th century America. The day’s lecture was on the Holiness-Pentecostal-Charismatic movement and Sweeney opened with a series of discussion questions on authority and tradition. As I was listening to the discussion between Southern Baptists and Presbyterians and the other students in the class, I kept thinking it would be a great topic to discuss over at LDS & Evangelical Conversations—and now I’ve done a post on it! The discussion was great though, Sweeney (who is himself a Confessional Lutheran) was a wonderful teacher and I thoroughly enjoyed the class. I would love getting to work with him.
I enjoyed getting to spend time with other evangelicals. I’m dying to discuss evangelical history and theology, and I’m dying to import my own knowledge of Mormonism into those discussions. Trinity is something I could see myself doing if my husband and I can afford it, and that’s a big “if” right now. We’ll need lots of prayers there.
The big thing is, I think Trinity could make me into what I want to be and help me figure out what type of evangelical I really am. That’s important to me.
I’m still open to Multnomah and looking forward to checking out that campus, too. I’ll let everyone know when that’s coming up.