This past week, I began the final semester of my master's degree.
I can't believe how quickly it's gone by. Seems like only the other day I was sleepless with excitement, the night before moving to California to start my grad-school career. This little master's degree has changed me in some huge ways – I suppose the big ones are the gender transition and the acquisition of something resembling a life ambition – but it's also interesting for me to reflect on how my theology has changed.
The biggest difference is my wholesale embrace of deconstruction, doubt, (de)negation, paradox, and contradiction as crucial aspects of my theology. For fun the other day, I tried writing out a creed that expressed the core of my beliefs as succinctly and honestly as possible, and this is what I came up with:
I believe in(to):God is (not)Jesus is (not) GodWe are (not) GodBe excellent to each other and party on, dudes.
Pretentious? Sure. I'm a humanities grad student. But it's also heartfelt.
I made this brief creed because I go to an Episcopal church, and every Sunday I recite the Nicene Creed with my fellow worshipers. I like it when my studies and my church complement each other. Studying Classics in undergrad, I needed a church where the sermons were 45-minute exegeses of the scriptural text. Now that I study theology formally, I need a church where the sermon is not the point at all.
I am very happy with my church here. I've begun to develop a theology of the Eucharist based on the weekly Eucharist (unlike my church in London, which had a neverly Eucharist). I love sitting in the pews alongside some of my closest friends, sharing commentary on the service via whispers, texts, and notes written on the bulletin (which I consider my week's best constructive theological work). I love the contrast between my rad-lefty school and my christologically orthodox church.
Maybe this is naivety born of my two years at an evangelical church, but I've been genuinely surprised at the lack of christological orthodoxy among self-described Christians. Before committing to Christianity, I spent a couple of years exploring my Jewish heritage. The thing that drew me to Christianity specifically was, y'know, Jesus Christ. I don't talk about this much, but I have a very high christology. I think Jesus is God. That is why I am a Christian. It's weird to me that you would be a Christian if you don't think that. I mean, believing in the God of Israel, or the Universal Spirit, or the Creator, and thinking Jesus is a top bloke but not divine/Messiah/only-begotten Son of God? That's a great belief and I'd never tell anyone they're wrong for having it, but why is that Christianity? If I believed that, I'd call myself Jewish.
I guess I still have a lot to learn. Good thing I'll be going on to doctoral studies this fall.