On Transformation

Actively working on education

Transformation is in the air this month. The entering class of seminarians at LPTS is taking part in the course “Transforming Seminary Education,” a course that recognizes that seminary education poses many transformative challenges, and aims to orient students for navigating those intellectual and spiritual challenges openly, adventurously, and successfully. The stirrings of a new school year, with their Facebook photos of friends’ suddenly school age children about to board the bus and status updates from others’ surprisingly college students reporting their arrivals at distant dormitories, calls attention to the continuous transformations going on all around us, so slowly they are almost imperceptible to those closest to them, so surely that we wonder at our own surprise at learning, again, that children grow up and friends age. From the perspective of August, transformation can look like a force of nature, intent on making something different of everything.

Even a force of nature involves someone’s or something’s energy and activity; transformation does not “just happen,” even though it can seem that way to us. We may not give much credit to the physical and chemical activity that carves out canyons from sandstone lake bottoms over millennia (though we may give tremendous credit to the Creator for whom time is something like a lathe), but it doesn’t really qualify as passive or uninvolved. Certainly the biophysical and biochemical activity involved in growth and maturation, and the intellectual and social energy engaged in channeling and shaping that maturation, are strenuous, high-energy enterprises. And when we come to the transformation of our own lives, minds, circles, and so on, we know full well how much active energy and persistence come into play, how much the direction and shape of the transformations we ourselves have undergone and continue to undergo depends on our agreements and resistances, our persistent practices and repetitive refusals. Transformation always involves the active participation, if not always what we want to call intention, of the transformed.

Sometimes that active participation is pleasant. Often, however, it can be painfully strenuous. It can involve changes that feel like, or that really are, losses: loss of a familiar form or function, closing of a comfortable niche or comforting option. Transformation can, famously, feel something like death, as confining shells or skins or habits or customs are reconfigured or shed altogether. But if transformation does involve death, it is not the kind captured in images of destruction or annihilation. It is more like a redeployment of resources, reshaping and even at times adding to what is already there, to make the transformed something or someone new, but recognizably so. The trajectory of transformation is in important ways “saving;” whatever or whoever enters into transformation is in some substantial sense still present and participating on its farther side. The early church, for instance, we believe we know, was “nothing like the church of today;” but as transformative as the past two millennia have been, we also trust that our early church foremothers and -fathers would recognize the truest part of themselves also in us.

Given the unpleasantness that can be involved in transformation, it might seem odd that our conscious selves would seek this process out – and yet, we do. Often, transformation is intentional, or at least the activity behind it is. We undertake transformation on purpose, for ourselves or for the larger realities to which we belong. We choose some path that promises transformation, because we believe something is amiss and needs to change, or because we sense and believe, or only hope, that something better awaits the fruition of the practices we thereby undertake, the habits we take pains to cultivate. Education is just such an intrinsically and intentionally transformative enterprise. It promises to change us, and we sense it as an adventure for just that reason.

The Women’s Center’s mission is, at bottom, education: that is, intentional transformation. Its mission and intention is to promote and to participate in the transformation of the church and the world in the direction of gender equality and equity. If what we know about transformation in other contexts is any guide, the church and the world that have done away with unjust power and privilege differentials based on gender, and that have taken on new shapes according to principles of justice that acknowledge the full humanity of people of every gender and the multi-gendered character of all humanity, will look different than they do now, as they should. But we will still recognize them as the church and the world — the Body of Christ, the creative work of God through the agency of created humanity — just suddenly, surprisingly, recognizable as grown up to a wonderful new stature. We are working towards the day we can be amazed and proud to see what they have made of us.

Click here to help fill the Women's Center's cup.

There is still time to support the Women’s Center’s transformative mission by making a donation to the Women’s Center during our Summer Donation Days!

You can go to OUR ONLINE DONATION SITE, the LPTS Online Donation Site (designate your gift to the Women’s Center), or send your check payable to LPTS – WOMEN’S CENTER FUND to The Women’s Center at Louisville Seminary, 1044 Alta Vista Rd., Louisville, KY 40205.

Thank you!

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This entry was posted in Theology & Other Thoughts and tagged , , , by Ha_Qohelet. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ha_Qohelet

Ha_Qohelet is a transliteration of Hebrew definite article plus a feminine participle, all together meaning "the (feminine) one who assembles" or who calls together. Qohelet is the title of one of the books of the Hebrew Scripture, known in English as Ecclesiastes. The Women's Center at LPTS feels the epithet of Qohelet is a fitting one for what we do and are. The Women's Center is, indeed, a caller-together, a caller-to-wisdom, and an assembler -- of people, of ideas, of actions, and ultimately, we hope, of transformations in the world. In this context, Ha_Qohelet is the Director of the Women's Center, and Editor-in-Chief of Wimminwise.

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