"BEHOLD, I DO A NEW THING." OR "PhME!"
So, I got the word yesterday that I have been officially accepted into a Fall 2004, doctoral program in theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. For the record, I AM NOT LEAVING ACT ONE, I am going to do the doctoral studies concurrently with my work as Executive Director of the program.
Several of my Act One friends are grumbling at this development (you know who you are, Kale and Sean), because they see it as a diversion from my primary work to establish a beachhead - ie. A Christian Center for the Arts and Artists - in Hollywood.
There are a few things going on here that have much more to do with the personal than the professional, although that is involved as well.
1) Do you know nothing about being a Second Child?!! As soon as my older sister declared she was getting a PhD, it was a foregone conclusion for me as well. What else would I have to talk about when I go home, if I couldn't whine sentences on some variation of, "Well, when Cynthia got her PhD, you all made a big fuss, but when I did, nobody even noticed..."?
2) I'm really not done learning yet. The women in my family live forever, generally, and I am not prepared to spend another fifty to sixty years in my current state of relative ignorance about most things beyond movies, Emily Dickinson and the Boston Red Sox. Oh, and Brideshead Revisited. I do know a lot about Brideshead. [ahem]
3) I'm bored. People don't believe me when I say that because I spend so much time cavorting in airports, and can never seem to get ahead enough to return phone calls, and because I start every email with, "Please excuse my delay in getting back to you...", but, the fact it, it is very possible to be consumed with activity, and yet not really engaged on the part of you that most defines you.
4) It can't hurt.
5) I LOVE Pasadena. It's really my favorite place in Southern Cal - and that includes all those gorgeous coastal places between Long Beach and San Diego. I can't afford to live in Pasadena, so studying there is the next best thing.
6) On a professional level, it means something to a lot of people who hand out money to non-profits, to see a list of degrees after the name of the person taking the checks. Having a PhD will give my work in Hollywood a whole other level of credibility...especially if we continue ahead with plans to become a place which sponsors think-tanks and forums and holds conferences and offers counseling.
6) It will make me write a book. The promise of $$$ has never been half as compelling as the human respect about getting good grades in school. I'm hoping I am still vain and competitive enough to be motivated to actually produce something of worth.
On the downside...
A) Theology was always my least favorite thing to study. I never could escape the feeling that everything was being so over-complicated. I don't tend to have a complex approach to Jesus.
B) I am a little leery of studying theology at a non-Catholic school. Are they going to want me to study Calvin and Luther? Cause, for my mind right now, that would be, like, in the same mode as studying the thought of Nestorian and Arias... I'm not TOOOOO worried about this, as I have some very good friends at Fuller, but it might make the whole experience even that much more interesting.
The fact is, there is only one Catholic university in L.A., that being Loyola-Marymount, and my experience of their theology department is that Fuller is much more Catholic. Enough said.
C) It will mean an impossible schedule. I will have to cut out most of my travels...which will be devastating news for the people who run the SuperShuttle airport vans, as I have personally financed an entire fleet of new vehicles for them.. On the flipside, this will be happy news for my cat, Tibby, minimally.... Seriously, it's probably just as well. I am getting sick of hearing my own voice lately. Need a break from microphones....which will be happy news for God, I feel sure. I never yet give a speech without getting that image of what Annie Lamott described as "making Jesus want to lap gin out of the cat bowl."
Anyway, please do keep this latest new thing, in your prayers. I am actually close to being kind of excited. [Cue the end of the world.]