So, my meeting with my friend Paul last night didn't really give me the boost I'd hoped for. Far from having useful advice or a veteran's perspective, he basically is in a similar situation, except that he has yet to complete his degree from Union. This is pretty much totally unhelpful, and we ended up emoting at each other all night about our various plans. I sound a little cranky about it, mostly because I'm in a state about money, worried about my future, and trying to figure out what the hell I'm doing.
I have an idea, but I'm not sure it's a good one. The issue I'm looking at is that I don't have a clue about how to be happy. I don't know what will make me happy in the future. Will I be happy doing theology? Would I be happy getting a degree? Will it matter, or will it be like Stephanie's useless degree, which cost a shit ton and got her nothing but debt?
A thought I had was to get a Masters of Arts in Theology at General Theological Seminary, which is the Episcopal seminary, but I'm worried that it a) won't be rigorous enough, b) won't be prestigious enough, c) won't be applicable. The Episcopal seminary has a degree in Ascetic Theology, and, like most things in my beloved church, is well outside the mainstream of Systematic Theology. However, in reading about Ascetic Theology, it seems to be very close to what I'm interested in.
If I had to put it into words, I'd say that what I really want to talk about is the overlap between theology and meditation, in other words, I don't want to just *think* about God, I want to find a way to encounter him directly. Eastern Religions (e.g. Buddhism, Hinduism) have proven and studied techniques for the access of other states of consciousness, and even Islam has techniques for approaching God (zikr, salat). Christianity, while it has these techniques, de-emphasized them through the years.
Obviously, we're not talking (at least not exactly talking) about gnosticism, though there is a connection. God is not "knowable" the way we know about dogs, or roses, or stars, but a direct connection is what I'm interested in, and what I want to talk about. A connection to this world, to the people around me, and to the God of creation. I'm looking for a cure for the alienation that I see around me and that I feel in myself. Not only that, but I want that connection, that discussion about that connection, to help me make my way in this world. I realize on the face of it that that is kind of a mess. In Islam, the saints have a trade. I will, most likely, never be a saint. I have difficulty even being sort of a nice guy, let alone a saint.
So, here's the possibilities as I see them:
Apply to General Theological Seminary for an M.A. in Ascetical Theology
- pros: Type of theology I'm interested in (at least on first glance), probably easier to get into, cheaper, part-time program, might be good prep for later degrees
- cons: less prestigious, (possibly) less rigorous, might be a waste of time, non-mainstream theology limits future options
Apply to Union Theological Seminary for M.A. is Systematic Theology
- pros: (relatively more) prestigious, rigorous, excellent prep for future degrees, Ivy League (parental/spousal/societal approval), excellent contacts for future work
- cons: more expensive, full-time, WAY more work, language requirements
- possible concerns: might not be a good fit
There are other issues, but I just wanted to get this out of my head, and onto the interwebs.