Orientation Day

It was orientation day for the college and seminary today.  Mostly introductions, devotionals, advice and some ice-breaking, get-to-know-you games.  One of the get-to-know-you games was picking a couple of Smarties from a box and, following the colour code, share you favourite food or movie or vacation spot (etc.)  A couple of people went and listed movies or sports they like to play–pretty ordinary things.  Then someone listed Christian films and praying and fasting as their hobbies (and he was totally sincere).  Suddenly I felt horribly unspiritual.  I wondered how anyone could follow that with anything “secular”.  It was quite funny, actually.

But I do sometimes wonder if I’m “spiritual” enough for this–I don’t read the Bible as much as would be good for me to do; I’m not a good prayer; I’m pretty loose with my choices in films and books and music; I drink and occasionally smoke and cuss (not necessarily at the same time); and so on and so forth.  Some of the people here appear to be pretty intense people, spiritually.  But maybe it’s just a front.  I know being hyper-spiritual isn’t requisite for seminary (and possibly not a good thing in the first place), and I know that “spirituality” isn’t really about what you drink or which words you use, but I sometimes worry that we won’t fit in very well.

But it’s an institution of higher learning, so I’m confident that a variety of theological and spiritual outlooks are a good thing–the spice of education, if you will.  And there is certainly an interesting theological cross-secti0n of people that I’ve seen so far: lots of Mennonites, of course, and an Anglican minister, to name a couple.  One of the professors is working on his ordination for the Anglican Church of Canada.  So this isn’t necessarily a theologicallly homogenous group.

* * *

Every time I start something new–university, graduate studies after university, technical college, and now seminary–I’m the guy watching everyone else, wondering if I am as capable as everyone else clearly is.  I look for that person or persons who will work at my level, or–and I feel slightly guilty for this–someone who will do worse than me so that I won’t be on the bottom.  Perhaps this sounds horribly judgmental, but it’s not–it’s simply the need to feel that you won’t be the worst student.  If you’re going to fail, it’s easier if there’s someone to fail along with you.

That sounds horribly pessimistic, doesn’t it?  Actually, today I feel quite confident in my abilities.  Dixie and I had an argument about school the other day.  She’s getting preemptively annoyed at my work habits–she’s afraid that my mind will always be occupied with school and that the rest of the family won’t see much of me and she doesn’t know how it’s possibly going to work for her to take a class or two starting next semester.

Her concern is not unfounded.  Bible college and university were a breeze for me in a sense: I managed a low-80s average without a great deal of effort.  Lots of last minute paper-writing, etc.  But I can’t do that anymore–it’s not just me now, I have a family and the standards in seminary are higher and I don’t want to just pass–but I want to gain from this: learn, grow.  And all that.

But I think we’ve settled down about it.  It’s going to be a good year.  September is really the month to survive, it seems, between reading and assignments and finishing up the Briercrest course.

My first class is tomorrow afternoon – Theological Foundations.  Madeline starts school tomorrow morning–the school bus picks her up at 8:00a.m.–an hour before school starts and the school is a 5-10 minute drive away.  This is one of the reasons we did not have Madeline take the bus to school last year in Prince Albert.  Oh well.  She’s excited about it.

5 thoughts on “Orientation Day

  1. Maryanne

    “It’s simply the need to feel that you won’t be the worst student”: I’ll never judge you for feeling that way, because I’ve felt the same way ever since I started grad school.

  2. Andrew

    “Then someone listed Christian films and praying and fasting as their hobbies”… lol at that. Right off the bat, I wouldn’t trust them.

    “But I do sometimes wonder if I’m “spiritual” enough for this” – though you may not be a calvinist, you are definitely not a pelagian, so you have nothing to be concerned about.

  3. Randall

    If someone says they pray and fast as their hobbies, then it’s said for the benefit of the group.

    If it’s truly who they are, then I suspect they would be less about the limelight.

    Just an early morning observation.

    And why didn’t Dixie take a picture of you with your school books and new school clothes as you left for school? That would have been lovely.

  4. Marc


    The guy was totally sincere about the prayer and fasting–I have no doubts whatsoever about that (but I don’t want to get too specific about my reasons). I mentioned it only because it was such a contrast with the rest of the group who had been listing things like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and golf as things they like. I found the contrast terribly funny.

    (I was also maybe a little jealous of someone with such discipline.)

  5. Toni

    I’m sure you’ll be fine, Marc. And the things you listed aren’t a sign of spirituality or otherwise, but self control, or lack of it. And I couldn’t possibly assess your spirituality from this blog, nor from knowing you for a few hours, even though you might appear to be spiritual.

    You’re there because you believe God called you to be, right? So it’s not about whether you’re ‘better’ or less spiritual etc, but a matter of calling. If you’re not sure about that calling then it’s time to leave now (I’m sure both you and Dixie are BTW). Otherwise grow like you said and come out equipped.

    This should be a good time for you doing stuff you like.

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