Graduation 2009!

Am I Weird (don’t answer that!)

I think that I must be a bit odd (some of you need to stop agreeing so strongly). For the last two or three weeks I have seen numerous facebook and twitter updates detailing the end of semester attempts at survival of a number of friends still at Logsdon. The bulk of these had to do with the struggle to get papers done (that perhaps had been put off till the last minute), the search for motivation to finish out the semester, and the general desire to just get finals over with. If this was all one had to go on, one just might get the impression that certain foks don’t really like school. Semesters are always too long, papers are to be dreaded, going to class becomes a chore, and finals become fearsome (or at least an unavoidable annoyance to the end of the semester). All in all, it seems that most people long for that final semester, that final class, and the end to all final exams. School in general, and seminary specifically, can’t be over with soon enough. “When will we be free from all this, when will graduation come?”

Its here where I think I must be a bit odd. This is because, for the most part, I’ve never had these same sort of feelings. I actually enjoyed writing papers and the end of the semester always came too soon for me. The semester always ended too quickly for me, and to be honest, my last semester and class came too soon. In fact, my last semester and class really kind of snuck up on me. It was like it was over before I knew it…before I was really ready. What’s more, most everyone I’ve ever talked too says that they can’t wait till they are out of school so they can read what they want to read, not what they have to read. No more Moltmann, Fiddes, Murphy, Grenz, Westphal, Wright, or Vanhoozer (yes, I camp out on the theological end of the spectrum, and we could name many others). This is ironic because I would say the same thing, only…the kind of books I want to read now are the kind that I read for my classes. I know…what’s wrong with me?!?!?!

And so now I find myself planning how to get back IN school. Yep, you guessed it (if you didn’t already know)…I plan on doing a PhD in the future. And just to clarify here, seminary and theological study was/is never simply about academics to me. If it were I probably would have grown tired of it long ago. So, what is it about? Well, for me, its about…being a lifelong learner, being caught up in the grand mystery of the triune God that is simply inexhaustible, discovering rich resources not only for personal spirituality but ecclesial missionality, not simply the pursuit of knowledge but the cultivation of wisdom, and a “whole way of life” (from Volf) that I see as participation in the very life of God expressed Trinitarian, narrative and missional praxis. Simply put, this sort of thing can’t be figured out in the short amount of time spent at seminary (even the most excellent institutions like Wayland Baptist University and Logsdon Seminary).

Thoughts on (not) Graduating

Christie and I just recently finished up at Logsdon at the end of August (but the two people that read this blog already knew that). My lovely bride was probably like most others. She just wanted to be done. And she worked harder than I’ve ever seen anyone work in order to finish. I, on the other hand, as I said, am just weird. As I think back over my Logsdon experience, I have just two main regrets. The first is that it seemed to end too quickly. I think this is the price to be paid for not only landing someplace where you feel like you are at home but for discovering genuine community. All I can think is I miss stopping by Dr. Stiver’s office, I miss GAing for Stiver, I miss Monks coffee shop (and the theological conversations there), I miss my Logsdon family (and the theological conversations there), and I miss my Crosspoint family (and, yes again, the theological conversations there). Boy, I’m quite the mess aren’t I? The time just seemed to sneak up on me too quickly. Honestly, I wasn’t ready.

The second regret is that graduation commencement for us would have been today, but due to unavoidable circumstances – having to do with living so far away from Abilene now, job issues, lack of money at the present, well you get the point – we weren’t able to make it. I had enquired about the possibility of joining in on the May commencement, but the definitive word we get from Hardin-Simmons is that this is not possible for those in the December commencement to delay participation until May…no exceptions. I need to specify that I don’t have any ill feelings towards Logsdon. This issue was really out of the jurisdiction of Logsdon, the final say coming from HSU itself. And I don’t really have any ill feelings toward HSU either, though it would be dishonest if I tried to claim that I was happy about this. I’m not and my feelings here are still pretty raw and probably will be for awhile. I’m just not sure why the rules here have to be so iron clad. I understand the need for regulations to actually mean something but surely there are some legitimate exceptions that can be allowed…right (but perhaps my view would be different if I was in university administration – who knows)?

In any case, I have talked with a lot of students who felt that walking across a stage wasn’t that big of a deal. The important thing is getting that diploma. So some may wonder why not being able to participate in commencement IS a big deal to Christie and I. Here are some reasons why.

  • It’s a big deal because we had coordinated our classes to end at the same time for the specific reason to walk together during the commencement (so this took some planning and work). We’ll probably never have another chance to walk together (unless we both decide to get another Masters or Christie decides she wants a PhD too). The bottom line here is, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
  • It’s a big deal because we won’t be able to celebrate with those that journeyed with us on the path to earning our MDivs. It is my firm belief that graduations are never just about the graduates themselves. Today would not have been just about us. Yes, we both worked long and hard to complete our degrees. But we did not make the journey by ourselves. Today would have also been about celebrating with those that we lived in community with, those that we worshiped with, those in our Logsdon and Crosspoint families that traveled with us during our educational journey.
  • It’s a big deal because without being able to participate in commencement our time at Logsdon just seems incomplete…kind of like a story without the appropriate ending. This is not to diminish our time at Logsdon at all. This is just to say that or journey at Logsdon doesn’t have the expected, desired ending. It feels unfinished. Those are the best descriptors I can think of…incomplete and unfinished.
  • Finally, it’s a big deal to me because I won’t get the opportunity to see Christie walk across the stage or have the opportunity to walk with her. I’ll be honest…I wanted to be able to walk more for her than for me. Yes, I really wanted to walk this time around but I’ve already done it once (at Wayland). To walk with Christie was for me another way to support and encourage her in the ministry that God has called her too. I’m just disappointed that I won’t be able to support and encourage her in this way. I can’t express just how proud I am of my wife. She is truly the most amazing women that I know.

Graduation Announcement

We have strived for and accomplished
an important goal in our lives
of which we are very proud.

Russell Lane Almon
Christie Cherie “C.C.” (Wolfe) Almon,
are pleased to announce
our Graduation from
Hardin-Simmons University / Logsdon Seminary
on the twelfth of December
two thousand and nine
with our Master of Divinity degrees.

We would like to thank the faculty,
along with our family and friends
for all the support they have given us.

Sadly, we will be unable to attend the graduation ceremony,
but we will be celebrating with our fellow graduates in spirit.

Christie’s friends at St. Luke’s threw her an impromptu graduation yesterday at work since we couldn’t attend the actual ceremony.

And our great friend Toby also went by the Alumni Wall & took this picture to send to us since we couldn’t be there to see it ourselves.

And BTW…if there are any out there just fretting about what to get me for graduation…I just happen to have a list of books that you could choose from…or an amazon gift card would do too… 🙂