Today, while at the local used bookstore, Beth and I were ridiculing the titles on the Inspiration shelf of the Religion section, titles such as God’s Game Plan and The Book of Biblical Answers to Life’s Problems. Why should we be in seminary or study theology for three whole years if these guys already know all the answers, and can fit them into one slim volume? Forget the huge Hauerwas anthology and the fifteen waiting-to-be-read books on my shelf – I’ve found the one book I need, the answers that will carry me through the rest of life.
A random, long-haired guy down the aisle, overhearing our cynicism, walked over to us and asked, “Um, if you don’t mind asking, why are you in seminary?” We tried our best to answer, offering explanations of a framework and background to do social service or justice work, the value of practical experience framed in the academic setting, but he wasn’t satisfied. Obviously a bit discouraged, he walked off after encouraging us to be healthy doubters, like Thomas, mumbling something about how the Catholic Church refuses to recognize its members in India.
Apparently, cynical seminarians just don’t sit well with the general public.