The Seattle School blog, featuring the writing of students, faculty, and alumni.
We’re proud to see two of our alumni at TEDxIsfeld! Watch their videos below.
Hillary Augustine has been called an innovator, poet, wordsmith, cultural engineer, and financial energizer. She graduated from The Seattle School in 2007 with an MA in Counseling Psychology. In this talk, Hillary invites us to pause, to study the dots in the space between poverty and plenty, and to see what patterns emerge in seemingly disparate places.
Ronna Detrick, M.Div., is a writer, speaker, and provocateur of passionate conversation about women and faith. She graduated from The Seattle School in 2004 with her Master of Divinity. In this talk, Ronna addresses how the predominant telling of Eve’s story has determined our past and how re-imagining it can determine our future.
I love Preview Weekends.
I have plenty of reasons not to. As a student worker, I spends Saturdays single-handedly covering both the library and the front desk. It’s not an incredibly heavy workload, but for those few hours I am the first resource for a steady stream of students needing anything from paperclips to paper sources.
So Preview Weekends mean current students asking for the usual assistances and the addition of prospective students in need of directions and full of questions. Preview Weekends mean I’m in the building for twice as many hours as normal Saturdays, they mean my mutt Oliver is missing his weekly outing to the dog park. Preview Weekends mean I don’t get even a page of my own research done all day.
And yet, I love the Preview Weekends.
Being at the front desk, I get to see the prospectives as they first enter. I see their hope thinly masking an underlying anxiety, and I remember my first time in this building, remember traveling three thousand thick miles to this three-story brick building that had been built up so much bigger in my mind. I remember both the ideals that brought me and the confusion that I, a woman who had planned on being a librarian, found myself studying theology. I remember noticing the urban cool of exposed brick walls from a warm seat on an overstuffed leather couch and thinking, yes, I want to study right here, in this seat.
Throughout the day I answer the questions of these maybe-someday pastors or counselors and hear myself explain all that this school aims to do, explain all that we do well, explain (with more compassion than I feel most days) where the school is struggling to do better.
Tonight, I walk through the building with many sets of eyes. I see the building as it first welcomed me. I see the classrooms on my first days, feeling like a stranger in a foreign land. I see the halls with many previous art exhibits, I see the second floor as classes and conferences and two distinct Christmas parties. I see the offices as intimidating administration, and I see the same offices as the places of mentors and friends. As I move, I’ve been flipping off light switches, but I walk without need of light. I forgot to wash my coffee mug before darkening everything, and do so quickly before leaving, in the dark, the faucet as familiar to me as if I really did live here.
The weekend is a reminiscence of the ideals that brought me here, a remembrance of the ideals the school holds, a reminder of the good work of theology, the good work of psychology, and the good work of finding their intersections. In daily life here, I tend to get tired down, to see the failings and the shortcomings, to struggle with what can be done better. I despair. But through the eyes of these visitors from across the nation, I’m reminded of the hope that is housed in this building and how far I’ve really come—it’s such a greater distance than those first three thousand miles.
A few years ago, I was studying Colossians 1. This is a passage in which Paul talks about how in Christ all things are being reconciled to God. As I was collecting thoughts on this, I made this file on our desktop entitled, “The Reconciliation of All Things.” As I would go about other tasks on my laptop, I’d glance over and see this self-important looking file sitting there, staring at me. Two thoughts alternated through my mind: (1) that is far too grand of an idea – it’s absurd, and (2) why would anyone be satisfied with anything less?
One of the things I’ve loved about the Marriage and Family class at The Seattle School, is that when Dan and Steve talk about the goal of our relationships, they do not settle for less. As my wife and I sit in class together, we are regularly challenged to recognize that the “just-trying-to-get-by” mode isn’t what God had in mind for marriage.
Our culture often presents marriage as the mundane, final step on the path towards becoming a ‘real adult,’ but marriage is not a cure for loneliness, a status symbol, or the next logical step in the game of life. Most of us enter marriage primarily concerned with assuring our own personal happiness and safety. This is setting our sights far too low.
The purpose of marriage is more presumptuous – more radical than we might be willing to allow. It’s deeper and richer and well, intimate and mysterious.
It’s about glory.
On the first day of class, we were invited to consider how our spouse is uniquely able to “help you name the glory that God has woven into you.” It’s a staggering responsibility! Doing this well requires the death of those parts of us that do not bring glory, and this is not always an easy or pleasant process. It involves acknowledging and confessing the places where I fail in our relationship.
But as we engage this journey together, we are finding that somehow in the pain of our brokenness, there is life. As we strip away the weakness, we also are able to better name the good. We are uniquely positioned to name the goodness in each other, and call forth the person each of us was created to be – for one another, for our son, and in the world.
Why would anyone be satisfied with anything less?
Rob Bell sits with Professor Chelle Stearns at The Seattle School to discuss the present and future state of the church and theological discourse. Rob also discusses his new book, "What We Talk About When We Talk About God." They also talk on sci-fi, Rob's upcoming projects, and unicorns.
The conversation is followed up by a Q&A session. Learn more about The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology at theseattleschool.edu
Earlier this year, a memorial to rape survivors was temporarily in place in the reflection pool of the Washington Monument. The letters floated in blood red on the water’s surface, reading “I CAN’T FORGET WHAT HAPPENED BUT NO ONE ELSE REMEMBERS.” Upon encountering the image, my first thought was “Of course, that’s why we have the church.” It was only on later reflection that I realized what a strange thought that may have been. Not everyone has such an experience of the church.
Trauma, such as sexual assault or the murder of a mentor, reforms our ability to narrate an understanding of self and the world; it becomes difficult to narrate in ways that are life-giving. It is through the help of community leading us to grace that the ability to narrate is again reformed, that identity and agency are relocated. The church is a place of community that first gathered around an event of trauma and an event of grace. We first gathered because of the crucifixion and resurrection of a man from Nazareth.
And we continue to gather around that same event, and its echoes in our own lives. In the Lord’s Supper, we hear Jesus in solidarity with the rape survivor: his body, too, is broken at the beckoning of abusers. The church remembers this. The church enacts this. The church refuses to turn away from systemic abuse, exploited power, a humiliated victim, a broken body, blood prematurely poured. We won’t shield our eyes to the violence, but continue to observe it, expose it, to name evil for what it is.
So rape, along with other abuses, is not just the problem of the survivor. Every act of violence is my problem, is your problem, is the church’s problem, is God’s problem.
The church is full of people who can’t forget what happened. The church is a community that holds.
This is incredibly hopeful, painfully hopeful. If we can tolerate the remembrance of this one act of violence, we can see, hear, and hold all acts of violence. If we can see the human glory in one victim, we can narrate the glory we see in one another. If we can believe in the resurrection, the new life, given to one man, then we can hold the hope that new life is available for each survivor. We are a community of witnesses, and through our witnessing, we become agents of change, bearers of grace, affirmers of agency and embodiment.
I don’t have a clean answer for why many churches don’t do a better job of engaging trauma , especially when the entire organization is built around the remembrance of trauma. Fear and shame, I’d guess. But I will say that meaning occurs where we make it, together. And if you can’t forget what happened, please come find someone to remember with you.
Last month, Dr. Dan Allender, Dr. Derek McNeil, and Dr. Keith Anderson shared the stage to speak to Seattle-area pastors on surviving and thriving in the work of ministry. In the last of three recordings, Dr. Keith Anderson spoke on how the process of vocational discernment and clarification of calling are two of the core battlefronts to find deeper rest and greater joy in the midst of one’s daily work. As Anderson suggests, we already know more than we practice. We don’t need new words, ideas, or new theology. The temptation, especially in pastoral leadership, is always moving from simplicity to complexity, from particularity to abstraction. Rather, we must receive the invitation to trust what we already know. Jesus moves people in the other direction: back to simplicity and particularity, back to the embodiment of what we already know.
Last month, Dr. Dan Allender, Dr. Derek McNeil, and Dr. Keith Anderson shared the stage to speak to Seattle-area pastors on surviving and thriving in the work of ministry. In the second of three recordings, Dr. Derek McNeil spoke on how the best intentions for self-care practices often fail and identifies how your personal narrative and the culture at large are key to understanding the barriers to self-care. While the challenge of those serving in ministry is always being “on duty,” and the unrecognized need for Sabbath, McNeil explains that “our bodies will betray us to keep us alive.” In this lecture, McNeil explores ways to move beyond the short-term fixes for our long-term problems.
Last month, Dr. Dan Allender, Dr. Derek McNeil, and Dr. Keith Anderson shared the stage to speak to Seattle-area pastors on surviving and thriving in the work of ministry. In the first of three recordings, Dan Allender identifies the challenges that pastors face as they seek to lead congregations. Dan Allender spoke on the 5 core issues that leaders face: crisis, confusion, conflict, isolation, and exhaustion.
‘08 Alumnus Josh Sandoz shares his experience of growing up an expatriate in Seoul, South Korea, and the questions he carries because of this experience. Josh is offering a workshop for adult Third Culture Kids at The Seattle School on April 6. Learn more about this event.
At seven years old, I experienced a mind-bending crisis of identity. There I sat, watching the LA Olympics on a small black and white TV, as boxers from the United States and South Korea took the ring and began pounding one another senseless in mutual pursuit of gold and glory. The official result of that match? I have no idea. I was too preoccupied, furiously wondering if I fully belonged anywhere in this world.
Born in Seoul to foreign missionary parents, I grew up a Third Culture Kid (TCK), part of an international community, attending a school with students from over fifty different nations. Experiencing myself “at-home” as a foreigner in South Korea and as a “hidden immigrant” when visiting my passport country, the United States, it’s not uncommon for me to find myself wondering to this day, “What is going on here?”
One way to look at that question would be to call it an anxiety-laced problem demanding quick resolution. Honestly, I’ve tried traveling that road, and I found the quality of adventure there quite lacking. However, as one of my favorite TCK authors, J.R.R. Tolkien, is known to have written, “Not all those who wander are lost.” Thusly, I found myself some years ago wandering to Seattle, stumbling through the doorway of a school that seemed to hold questions in an entirely different light.
During my counseling psychology studies at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, I was challenged to embrace genuine questions more deeply and cultivate a spirit of honest curiosity that could be generative in an ongoing way. Applied to my own emotionally-charged questions, this capacity to honor them more fully has come to serve me well, both personally and professionally, as I continue to extend and receive care for that seven-year-old me, full of Olympic-sized panic, and his many kindred spirits that I continue to meet in Third Culture Kids of all ages.
While in graduate school, I kept strong ties to the international TCK community. Having served for two years as the Director of Child and Family Support Services with Interaction International, I continue to help facilitate Transition Seminars for TCKs moving to North America, and I like offering talks and workshops on the TCK experience. I get to meet with TCKs in my daily work as a mental health therapist in private practice, helping them consider deep questions of cultural identity, grief, loss, and the experience of what it’s been like to grow up “in-between.”
In addition to the “in-between” nature of my upbringing, my training and profession ask me to routinely consider another kind of in-between as well. Listening together to all manners of suffering and joy, I am mindful to wonder what is going on within another, within myself, and between the two of us as we work together. Given my background, I have strong bias that both realms of in-between are deeply meaningful. And I’ve come to enjoy wondering with others, “What is going on here?” as a path toward making a home for self and others in the substantive in-between.