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Move Twelve Years In...

I found myself in such unexpected delight yesterday, in the strangest forum you could imagine (if you’ve tracked my journey with online/distance learning modalities).

About twelve years ago, I was tasked with creating a hybrid, peer-group formation curriculum, with no administrative interest in whether it was a wise proposition for spiritual or ecclesial mission. I remember being angry, yet also impotent. Without tenure in an academic community, I had no recourse but to align with my ‘day-job’ demands. I made lemonade out of lemons–still too sour for my taste, but it wasn’t undrinkable.

Move twelve years in… I was blessed to be asked into another seminary’s faculty-in-service yesterday, sharing what I’ve learned about developing completely online, asynchronous courses. I was bemused to have been sought, given this is not a publicized ‘specialty’ on my CV or in my professional profile. I still don’t like online learning, and fear the impacts on younger generations who will not know the blessings/abundance of deep residential formation. (Of course, they also avoid the pitfalls and unconscious/hidden injustices. I can argue for this modality too, I just don’t like it). A colleague-become-friend within “theologies of religious pluralism” commitments remembered me, however, and reached out. I was delighted to be reconnected, to feel the easy resonance we’d known in the years of fellowship work together.

AND I was utterly astounded at how much FUN it was! As I entered into the preparations on Tuesday or Wednesday, realizing I’d probably need a powerpoint presentation to do it well, I felt an ease and an anticipation I’ve not known in online learning things. Because now I realize...

...I’ve had no reason to get a contemporary bird’s eye view of how much I’ve learned in these twelve years. No reason to become aware of the empathy and fierce advocacy I feel for professorial colleagues who are facing these challenges. As I walked them through what I’ve learned to do, sharing both good(s) and grievance(s), I felt deeply--strangely--in my vocational wheelhouse, in a seminary setting. Not circle. Not interreligious. Seminary.

How very odd.

I am reminded how much I love to teach, even if just on Zoom where I can’t feel the room’s ebb and flow. It was good to feel a fierce devotion to faculty colleagues, even ones I don’t work with closely. We’re all in this together as opposed to an easily emergent we are competing for scarce resources mindset/heart-leaning.

I felt a competence I have never felt in this wheelhouse before, deservedly or not. I doubt online-learning folks would value my competences, given it criticizes and pushes back against now ‘common-sense’ norms in distance-learning that I simply don’t find feasible in my own teaching. I simply felt in my bones: I know what I know. An utterly crone-esque disregard of what disciplinary guilds profess.

Delightful. Such freedom in not caring

except for the human beings before me.


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