Tuesday, March 12, 2013


When I was a first year seminary student, not so very long ago, one of my professors told me that it would take me about three years in ministry to sort through my theology and know where I stood. 
I wonder whether it will take that long.  I think I might be there.  (The only other option I see at the moment is Buddhism.) (That is not intended as a pejorative remark.) My son's death altered my life trajectory considerably.  Mentally, emotionally, spiritually ~  true, some things take a lot longer than I might have once expected.  Some are simply no longer possible.  But some move with the speed of light when I had thought that they would proceed more slowly.  
There are some things pertaining to Josh's death that I do not discuss.  Maybe a couple of priests know one or two of them.  But they have changed me in irrevocable ways.  And because of them, certain aspects of theology have sorted themselves into place without waiting for me to catch up.
Here. Now.  My non-negotiables:
Both/And.  Applies to almost everything, at least in this life.  No other way of explaining most of it.
You can tell me your either/ors if you wish.  I will always listen.  But they will make no sense to me, if they ever did, which was probably not the case.
God's love and grace: Lavish and inexhaustible.  No exceptions.  If that is not true,  I'm done.
You might think that the last one is an either/or.
Another professor (and you know who you are) said to me, maybe during my last year of seminary, "You want there to be free will, but you also expect God to fix everything."
So God's love and grace are also both/ands.
This gets me into trouble.
You try knowing some of the things I know and see if you think differently.


  1. On the prof that said it would take you three years in ministry to sort out your theology: I don't think was speaking with second career, particularly second career women students in mind. I certainly went to seminary with a much more sophisticated and thought through theology than many of the other students. I bet you did too. And if you have your theology sorted out in three years, then you've quit thinking and questioning and wondering. Hmmm, I'm a bit snarky this am

    My son calls me a Zen-Presbyterian. There are lots of us.


    1. Both/And. :)

      I think he meant the basics. I certainly would hope that the nuances would change and develop as a lifelong exploration!

      I found that there are some huge issues on which I have changed course, or with respect to which I at least deepened my understanding, in and post- since seminary -- most of which have to do with death, and with things I have learned not only from my own experience, but also from watching and being with 100+ people as their loved ones have died, and now from being in conversation with I don't even know how many bereaved parents and spouses over the past few years.

      Others have to do with priorities for education and formation. I have spent all my life in certain kinds of environments, both secular and religious. Now I am in another kind. What really matters? What doesn't? Where do you challenge people in fruitful ways? Where do you do more damage than good?

      And how do you open your arms and your heart wide enough to embrace all comers? Or do you even want to? Or should you?

      I am saying that two big issues are resolved for me. I can see that in the freedom with which I respond to many of the others, and in the areas that are still matters of internal debate and frustration for me.

  2. Here's a both/and for you: your recent posts are being written during an unbloggable time (read: pain)...and they are lovely and thoughtful and exist right next to the words that can't be said; and your pictures are poignant and heartrending, and more beauty than ashes. On top of that you put on a retreat, which is extremely generous. Wow. Life has more categories than we can even begin to label...just roll on, Robin!

  3. We've been reading the Westminster Confession, and I thought of you when we got to Chapter 5-- On Providence. "What does Robin do as a Presbyterian with the horrible and overwhelming idea that God wills everything that happens?"

    Both/and indeed.