Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Oh geez...Atlanta...

An update on my new life thus far, for my loyal blogstalkers.

My new life, it seems, is a huge paradox. Of course, any big move like this one is going to result in the necessary and requisite confusion of a new place, new people, and new school. But Candler, Emory, Atlanta, and Dana's New Life in general seem to be especially wrought with tension.

Candler School of Theology, to start with, is an academic institution that offers theological education in order to produce an informed clergy and field of religious professionals. At the same time, however, they recognize and celebrate spiritual discipline, worship, and creative, spontaneous interactions with Divine. It's strange for me, coming from Public Ivy, W&M, to have my faith thrown in with my academics; strange to be talking about personal conceptions of God in a classroom, using academic words and tones; strange to be worshipping in a chapel that is the center of my school; strange to be excited about learning about the "Old Testament" instead of the "Hebrew Bible." I'm afraid I'm losing a lot of breadth diving into this Christian Theological Education deal, but at the same time, opting for breadth means giving up a lot of depth.

Emory, too, is a school of paradoxes. I'm here for Divinity School, to study the ineffable, the spiritual, the esoteric aspects of life. But not everybody at Emory is here to do that. The Nursing School, the Medical School, School of Public Health and the Law School are all dealing with much more concrete, visible aspects of life. And the undergrads...well, with complete wardrobes of Abercrombie and Hollister, and projection TV screens in their dormrooms, it seems like their lives will be much fuller of material concerns than esoteric ones.

And Atlanta, the city, is strange, too. I live in Atlanta, within the city limits, yet my window here looks out to a grassy lawn with hundred year old trees, a swingset, and children playing. The roads I drive to Kroger and Target are tree-lined and suburban. Granted, I do live directly across the street from the CDC, where ongoing construction impresses on me the fear of infectious diseases escaping and infiltrating my apartment less than 200 yards away, and the fire station, whose hourly sirens still make me jump each time even after 5 days. Even downtown, though, with its wide streets and spread-out buildings, seems nothing like the major city I imagine when I picture ATLANTA. And southern hospitality leaves no room for metropolitan coldness, though apparently, that hospitality falls short of courteous driving practices.

And Dana, me, myself, perfectly calm, friendly, outgoing even, dealing with big changes like these in a rational, accepting manner...what happened to that kid who choked at WM freshman year, who couldn't make it a week 3 hours away from home? She's disappeared. Now, I'm in my own apartment, paying my own bills, in a big city i've never even visited before, and I didn't even shed a tear when the parents abandoned me, on my birthday, no less. And, even weirder, I'm loving it!

It's a world of paradox and tension down here in the Big Peach, ladies and gentlemen, and I couldn't ask for anything better.

We'll see how I feel about that once I make my first required visit to my contextual education placement, the local death-row prison.

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