Friday, March 25, 2011

How and why I became an atheist, part 3

OK, I'm now at the point of talking about my time in graduate seminary (divinity school) at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Mo., the primary seminary of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

That's after Part 1, covering childhood, and Part 2, covering high school and college years.

Concordia was and is an academically rigorous seminary. The Lutheran system requires taking undergraduate classes in biblical Greek and Hebrew, or taking noncredit classes on those languages at the seminary for those who didn't take them before.

It also required multiple classes in Old and New Testament interpretation, along with Christian and Lutheran doctrine, etc.

The program was a bit similar to medical school: Two years of classes, with occasional work at an area Lutheran church, then a full year of internship, paid, at a Lutheran church anywhere in the U.S., followed by one last year of academics, theoretically building in part on ideas learned, deficiencies, uncovered, etc., during that internship.

Well, I started my voyage of doubt near the end of that second year. And, used that internship year to further build on the "intellectual judo" I was starting to do on what I had been taught so far.

By the time I got done with that internship, between a mix of moral, intellectual and personal reasons (the not wanting to go down that career path anyway, even with the guaranteed job security), I knew I was no longer a conservative Lutheran. I knew I was moving through the liberal wing of Lutheranism, and at least in the direction of Unitarianism, and didn't know where I would stop.

I also knew that, thanks to childhood and lack of career dialogue and support from either parent, or the encouragement to search for that, I didn't know what I did want to do.

So, I figured that I would go back for that final year of seminary, get my degree, try to line up other job prospects in a metropolitan area like St. Louis, and sort my thoughts, mind and heart out more.

More on that coming up in Part 4.

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