Hello Friends!! I have been notified that my blog posts are INDEED being read by some of you out there in electronic la la land. This warms my soul and makes me feel like I am not wasting my time blogging about my life and my "weak" opinions on various topics in the world. As promised today I am going to post some informtaion about the Orientation happenings here for the incoming MDIV student at the Vanderbilt Divinity School.
I must give a disclosure however, having been through a divinity, MDIV at that orientation once bfore EXACTLY five years ago, and having also been an orientation volunteer for THREE years I am not promising that I have the most objective, and open minded approach to the orintation at the Vanderbilt Divinity School. But I will give you the musings of what I have encountered thus far!!
1. Worship v No Worship
Many of you who attended Candler Schol of theology will remember that every day of orientation was begun with gathering in the Cannon Chapel to worship as a community and gather together in a time of reflection and song. But more importantly it was the first time many of us would witness understated, yet overpowering,a nd full body motional directing of Barbara Day Miller, more lovingly called BDM. I say this to you not as a way to poke fun but rather realize the exact moments many of us witnessed this monumentally petite woman who would for the next three years of our lives be remembered at Halloween parties, and Jesus parties for years to come. Vanderbilt has no such thing, we meet in the "Divinity Reading Room" and as my Associate Dean so lovingly exclaimed today that Vanderbilt is a "school, not a church" I leave that with you to think upon.
2. Alumni Office v Library
While at Emory I somehow was able to NOT find a workstudy position anywhere on campus until my FOURTH year attending the institution and at that point I worked for my last semester at the Alumni Relations house, how fitting since I NEVER became an ALUMNI. However here at Vanderbilt, I got on the ball and somehow managed to snag a coveted position at the Central Library in the circulation department. That is where I bring this posting from tonight.
3. Social v Academic
At Candler on the first day of orientation following lunch in the 115 degree with humidity heat we jumped on buses and headed with the other students to the King Center to learn about the notorious civil rights leader himself and later discuss the impact he and his life still have on the social, theological, and global world. Here at Vanderbilt we sit together and listen to 45 minute sessions of EACH faculty member in his/her area tell us about themselves, their area and then tell us incoming students about the amazing classes they will be offered and are most excited about that we as incoming students will not be privy to. I thought I would never say this but I prefer the king center.
4.Come as you are v Required Reading
Candler Orientation was something I looked forward to. Meeting new people, seeing the campus in a new light as a student, exploring my new found sense of freedom, and getting ready to get good free food and chill out a bit. At Vanderbilt, it is a CLASS yes a class that you either fail or pass. It has a registration number, and value, it has readings, questions and discussions abdout those readings and lectures regarding the readings. There is NO free food, lunch on our own, and water to drink, out of a faucet, glad I brought my Nalgene. So needless to say, I am here on the second full day, working unitl 9pm hungry and well really wanting a Coca-Cola Classic.
5. Doing v Saying
I fully believe that the classes, professors, and experiences I had while at Candler (when I went), were some of the most rewarding in my academic life. I learned from great professors at a Theological institution ranked number 3 in the United States and number 1 among Methodist Seminaries. I know this not because the professors told me but becasue I read it on the internet or in the Reporter, or heard it from another professional colleague, or better yet from a colleague of a professor I was taking. I did not EVER in my 7 semesters there hear a professor in the GDR, or the Divinity school say "WE have the best (insert class, professor, genre, etc)" Nor did I hear "especially compared to (insert other institution here)" At Vanderbilt I was told today that both the Ethics and the Homiletics department at Vandy was the best in the nation, especially over EMORY, Candler, to be more specific. Now given my situation with the Candler School of Theology, I may not love all aspects of the school, but I can witness to the fact that the classes I (ahem) attended while taking Dr Don Saliers, and Dr. Tom Long were somf o f the best I have ever had, and I can only imagine the expereinces and insight I may have gained had I put forth my whole effort. Needless to say I was a bit turned off.
6. LTJ v AJL
Luke Timothy Johnson, Big Dog tees, and sweats, and socks with sandals and all is one of the best professors and scholars in the area of hte New Testament in the world. He refutes the findings of the Jesus seminar, loathes Tim Crossan, and will be the first to tell you there is MUCH you as a student so not know about the New Testament, and even more so about the Synoptic gospels. He is however, an understadniong man who in my greatest time of need took me in and counseled me in a way that no other "minister" at Candler did. A J Levine is yet another very well known and prominent scholar and therefore professor ( so I have heard) of New Testament. She is NOT however a theologian or a pastor, she said this herself yesterday in a panel discussion with other "theologians." She unlike LTJ she thinks that not only do students have it all wrong, but ALL Christians themselves have the New Testament all wrong, and no she is not a Christian. While I must be fair a tell you I have yet to have had a class with her, and yes I have a special place for LTJ, I will state that Candler has the upper hand on this.
If you are still reading this long post at this point I will say that this may in NO way be a fair or an earned critique of either of these institutions or these topics, but they are my personal opinons on the matters listed above. I loved Candler, the people, the classes, and I like Vandy so far, there may very well be a later posting where Vanderbilt wins out, so check back.