CEDAR LANE VOICES ON MULTICULTURAL, PLURALISTIC SPIRITUALITY

First Week at Seminary

January 17, 2018

When I felt that first Chicago breeze on my face, I immediately realized I was free from any tourism-related temptation (the polar freeze caught us all that first week of January, right?). I went straight from the airport to a gathering for Meadville Lombard Theological School’s new students. Meadville Lombard is one of the two Unitarian Universalist Seminaries in the world and I had the most enjoyable first week there, (not only because it was mostly indoors). Indeed it was illuminating to hear from some of the faculty as well as from other students since the first day.

Both the School location –probably at one of the best spots in downtown Chicago— and its architecture are extraordinary. And the people inside was even better. That evening I had my first session with professors Dr. Mark Hicks and the Rev. Leslie Takahashi. In the previous months, I had done many readings and watched all the audiovisuals they assigned for their class, "Walking the Talk." It was fundamentally a workshop on intercultural communication. Together we explored, in practical ways, many of the issues related to white supremacy occupying our faith today. No doubt, Dr. Hicks, and the Rev.Takahashi are world-class educators. I have willingly joined their fan club. I also was amazed at the high quality of the students' participation. Most of my classmates were 2nd and 3rd-year seminarians, and just by watching them I realized how little I know about this profession, and how much I need to learn yet.

I felt the course talked to me personally and not just because of it was in itself an exercise on self-discovery. Every one of us is inevitably part of two worlds: the one we carry within and the world outside that carry us. I believe that all our lives are about how well or poorly connected are those two worlds. And this class has helped me with some weak bridges I need traverse within and outside of my soul. Also, it is addressing an issue that has been worrying me recently. That of identity and how we the UUs are struggling with Walt Whitman's invitation to accept the multitudes we each are and to be open to the multitudes that everyone else is. I feel the fear our congregation is experiencing now. That need to find safety among equals as per the color of our skin, our nationality or our sexual inclination. My fear is of a self-inflicted wound in our liberal religion just when it is experimenting with how to come to terms with its multitudes. Let's continue this conversation.

- Roger Santodomingo