Tag Archives: seminary

New Things

As some of you may have seen on Facebook, I’ve been trying to figure out for a little while what to do with this blog. I haven’t been keeping up very well with posting, and part of the reason for that is that I didn’t want to be investing in a blog that ultimately I was going to reinvent (I should save new posts for the new blog instead, right?). I also wanted to have some sort of complete thought worth sharing before posting.

One of my ideas was to become more active (er, active at all…) on Walking Towards Jerusalem, a blog my husband Jeremiah started last year. He intended this to be a “biblioblog”—a blog focused on biblical studies—and told me I could join. I initially was enthusiastic because there aren’t many female bibliobloggers, but my interest has waned. It’s not that I don’t like blogging about the Bible—I just don’t like to feel constrained. He said I could blog about other things, as well, but I have never known if that blog was a good fit.

I also have considered helping this blog become more focused in order to attract a real audience. Ever since I stopped posting (i.e., when I started dating Jeremiah last March), my visits have virtually disappeared. I used to have a fairly active, though small, readership, but when you’re inconsistent for a while, even that small readership tends to fade. I thought that maybe if I came up with one thing to talk about, I could “market” this blog and make it “cool.” However, this is much easier said than done. Most of the time, I’ve felt void of ideas and like I was trying too hard.

In the end, I think I’ve decided two things. First, I’m working on an experimental blog, which is not yet up and running, aimed at smart teenagers who want to learn more about theology, etc. I have no idea if it will catch on, but this is my attempt to write about something that interests me that I feel the Internet actually needs. Hopefully there will be at least five high schoolers that agree that it is needed and will visit my little corner of the web. I’m interested in seeing what middle and high schoolers, as well as young college students, are interested in discussing from a more intellectual/academic perspective (or a more holistic perspective that at least begins to look at this angle of Christianity) and what needs might not be met by youth groups. Obviously, it’s only a sliver of the general population that really wants to learn more about theology, but I know I had various curiosities and interests in high school and am sure there are others like me out there. I don’t know many places offering the opportunity for teens to get an introduction to anything I’ve learned about in seminary (except for an interesting program at Duke Divinity School), so I’m interested just to see if there is a felt need for something like this—I hope to learn a lot in the process. If it is a total flop, the worst thing that has happened is I lost $15 on a domain name.

The second decision I’ve made is to try to stress a bit less about making this blog interesting or cool. I’m not going to try harder to think of a topical focus or to recruit an audience. I think that really, I may be better off acknowledging that many of my friends live far away and would be more interested in seeing what I’m doing and thinking about than my poor attempts at polished pieces of writing. (Not that many of my past posts have been particularly polished…)

I have tried to avoid a “personal blog,” because it feels too much like a twelve-year-old’s online diary, but the fact is, I don’t write for beliefnet or some other place that’s going to get me lots of traffic and turn me into a respectable guru on one of my passions. Instead, I’m just Ashleigh, a grad student who is thinking about various things and enjoying my life. Hopefully photo posts, incomplete thoughts, and similar goodies will be just as exciting to my five readers—maybe I can even entice my best friend to start reading again. ;o)


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“You can take my confidence out of the gospel…” (pt. 2)

“…but you can’t take the gospel out of me.”

The thing I’m continually struck by, I think, as I think about me and my friends (and I don’t know the full stories of where they’re at right now), is that in the midst of everything, we don’t really know what we would do without the gospel.

I think we ask, we get angry, we weep, we dialogue, we read… and we don’t really know where we’re at or where we’re going. But when you get down to it, we love this story.  We can’t imagine defining our lives by anything else.  We are captivated by this mission.  We want to hear, see, breath, think, speak, live the gospel.  Because that’s the only thing that still makes sense to us.

And I wonder if there’s a sense in which that’s true for most people.  If there’s this place you can be where you just know too much and it would be very hard to look at the world and NOT see it through this primary lens.  If it would be possible to ever rest from pursuing God when you’ve imagined the possibility of truly good news.  I mean, really–to who else would we turn?

Maybe I’m painting them with my own brush.  But I think to an extent this is probably true–or else why would we be so set on pursuing these questions? We can’t just opt out of Christianity because we don’t know what to do with it all the time.

You can take our confidence out of Scripture, out of community, out of prayer, out of the gospel itself some days…

But you just can’t erase the gospel from our hearts.


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“You can take my confidence out of the gospel…” (pt. 1)

…but you can’t take the gospel out of me.”

I was immensely blessed through college to have a few close friends whose stories resembled mine at some point along the way: my kid-of-divorce friends have understood my family’s recent fracture, my InterVarsity-leadership friends have understood something of the crazy life that is (even part-time, unpaid) ministry, and I even got to witness Betsey’s moment-of-truth when she first changed Facebook to “liberal,” only a few months after my own emotional political conversion.  I like having friends from other walks of life.  But I appreciate sharing these things with my friends.

Today I learned that rather than two potential UNC grad seminary friends next year, I may have three (not all at my school–but around).  More interestingly, the latter two are going to seminary largely for reasons like my own.  We’ve had our share of personal issues between us and God, and the academic questions that intrigue us don’t always help.

Sometimes when I think about my being at seminary I feel I was made for this.  That’s not to say I love every minute of it, but rather, go figure I’m here.  I mean, I was the one that started reading books about women in ministry in high school because things in the youth group got frustrating (not to mention, boring).  The academic side of faith has always been important to me on a more personal/relational level with God.

At other moments, I am amazed that I’m here, not so much because I wouldn’t be here, but I don’t think most people would.  This isn’t to lift myself up in any way–I just don’t know that many people with big questions who try to insulate themselves within evangelicalism, or Christianity as a whole, for that matter.  The logical thing to do right now, in some ways, would be to pull back.  If you’re not sure about a person, you usually retreat from a relationship, right?  What good will the time and money spent on a degree like this do for us if we end up not teaching or doing ministry (if we find the wrong answers…)?

But the three of us are doing what we’re doing.

to be continued…

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