With Thursday’s announcement of the end of this blog, I thought I’d take a moment to share how this blog has impacted not only my faith, but my interest in theology and biblical studies. And since this month’s theme is the future of theological education, I thought I’d share how I think blogs can help.
Although I’ve been writing here for only a couple of months, I’ve been reading Near Emmaus’ posts for several years. Toward the end of my undergraduate degree, I was heavily considering what was next. First came the idea of law school, but when my LSAT scores came back, I decided to consider other routes. It was shortly after this point when I started heavily considering seminary.
During my final year of college, I had taken a couple more religious studies classes at U of O taught by Dr. Daniel Falk. It was during these classes that I felt even more eager to continue on to seminary. Throughout the previous year, I had been reading many of Near Emmaus’ posts and had learned that Brian LePort was studying at Western, here in Portland. Knowing the kinds of questions he had been asking and seeing the material he had been studying, I felt far more comfortable about pursuing a seminary degree.
Near Emmaus has been, as long as I’ve been reading, a space in the internet where dialogue about theology happens. Mere Bible studies have not given the kind of space that Near Emmaus has. Many disagree with each other, sure, but that only makes the discussions much more engaging (provided there are no drive-by commenters, anyway). I figured that if Brian was studying in seminary and approaching the biblical texts in a similar way that I did in Falk’s classes, then seminary was a route I should take.
It wasn’t for a couple years when I actually applied and got accepted to George Fox, but throughout those years and the years I was in college, I had been reading regularly (commenting occasionally) and building an interest in the academic realm of biblical studies. Not only did I feel that I wouldn’t be chastised for asking questions or believing different things, I was challenged to reconsider ideas that were different than my own. Such a practice I have found to be essential not only in seminary, but in every day life as well.
Although this blog is entering its final weeks, I have no doubt that I’ll continue writing with the same thirst for knowledge and dialogue that I’ve seen displayed here. I definitely won’t have the same following that Near Emmaus has, but hopefully there will be dialogue.
Of course, all this leads me to ask what are we doing – as students, instructors, or people who love theology – to sustain an interest in the theological and biblical studies fields? Are we even making an effort to keep potential students interested?
I ask partially because I hope to continue on to PhD work within these fields to eventually teach at the college level, but mostly because I find biblioblogs like Near Emmaus to be a crucial component in keeping an interest alive. In spaces like this one, there aren’t any gimmicks; no one is trying to sell readers on seminary educations. If anything, it is a space of honestly presenting seminary with all its realities, costs, and stresses. But it does more than that by revealing glimpses here and there to the atmosphere of seminary and the kinds of conversations one could expect in the classrooms. The realities of seminary are not all negative.
So in a way, in asking what the future of theological education looks like, we could also ask what the future of biblioblogs looks like (Brian has a couple helpful posts here and here). No, they don’t walk hand in hand, but, as my experience shows, they can influence each other significantly.
Where do you see bibliblogs going? How do you see them influencing or supporting theological education? What are some of your favorite posts/conversations/experiences with Near Emmaus?