Friday, July 30, 2010

Master of Divinity

I just received my master of divinity degree with major in ministry from Almeda University. I began studying theology and religious studies 30 years ago with night school courses over many years from many colleges and universities. I've completed university courses on the study of the bible and other formal theological courses. Somewhere I have A's on transcripts but I've auditted as many more. Instead of completing a paper in a course I've published articles on science and religion and spirituality and even religious poems in national and internationally accreditted journals. One of my greatest joys was studying the Spirit with a small group of pentacostal adults sitting around in school desks on a tropical island. I've been equally uplifted by the conferences I've attended with the Christian Medical and Dental Society where some of the finest medical minds and most moral citizens attend. Hope Alive Training with Dr. Phillip Ney was profoundly moving. In addition I attended and studied in Catholic, United Church and Anglican seminaries. Dr. John Christiensen was my catholic psychiatrist colleague who went with me to some of these places where asked what we did we''d say we were psychiatrists only to have one wit say 'isn't Christian Psychiatrist an oxymoron'?
Mostly my interest has been Spirituality. I'm honored to teach a course on spirituality in the psychiatry and addiction settings. Spirituality is a central component of Addiction Psychiatry my subspecialty. I'm really looking forward to attending the International Society of Addiction Medicine this year in Italy where spirituality will be one of the topics of discussion as it relates to the treatment of addiction.
After I will pilgrimage to Rome and the Vatican. My pilgrimage to Jerusalem some years back will always been a highlight of my life.
I've been mentored by Rabbis and had the honor of spending considerable time with Moslem Professors who have brought to my attention the finest of the Koran and shown me how human error has corrupted that message as surely as it has corrupted the message of the Torah and Bible at times.
I was formally trained in Yoga and Tai Chi with the associated learning in Hinduism of Swami Yogananda and Taoism. Working with a Buddhist doctor I had the privilege of much mentoring in the teaching of Gautama long after I'd read Herman Hesse's Journey to the East and Siddhartha, long before I became a student of Thomas Merton the catholic priest who bridged the gap between East and West as Allan Watts had done as well. Meeting the Dali Lama was as moving for me as meeting Bishop Tutu.
I am Christianed Baptist and raised Baptist becoming President of the Amalgamated Baptist Youth Groups of Winnipeg, taught Sunday School for the United Church and was a United Church Church representative to the Canadian Youth Parliament. My roommate, Jon Cowtan,was the Vice President of the Unitarian Church of North America and our canoe trips together always involved discussion of theology.
My entering medicine was to me a calling. Dr. Albert Schweitzer was my hero and I was later privileged to hear in the flesh the African missionary tales of Dr. Willie Gutowski and his wife Anita.
Dr. Lam of EMAS tried to get me to accompany him to China to do missionary work but I never felt in the league of men such as he and the Chinese psychiatrists he introduced me to who risked their lives and careers spreading the gospel.
I believe all religions are like all roads leading to Rome. I know that much of religion can be wrong but at the core I believe there is at least historically an encounter with the spirit. My Native Medicine Woman Anglican Minister friend Vivian Seegers will be conducting a wedding ceremony for our philosopher friend, Andrea, this weekend using traditional First Nations rituals.
I am baptized Anglican and call myself Born Again because though I always believed I knew Christ from childhood and even Jesus as friend today I truly personally call him Lord.

That said, I applied for a degree putting forward all my academic and research and study and educational achievements in this one area of my life where so much of my life exists. I don't know if St. Mark's Catholic Theology School recognizes Regent College or even Vancouver School of Theology. I knew they wouldn't acknowledge my study in India or my friend Kirk Laidlaw and I discussing God together since we became friends at the age of 5. My meditating on my boat alone thousands of miles at sea would surely count as homework. Sobriety for 13 years in AA is another work project associated with the dark night of the soul and via negativa. My teacher Dr. Carl Ridd would approve of both. My teacher Dr. James Houston, the roommate of my favourite C.S.Lewis, would approve of all my meditation on Psalms. I do love the Third Day Christian rock band.
But my time with the Theosophical Society in London and so much of my ragged journey would be frowned on by many in ecclesiastical circles. Last year I attended the Rainbow Church and the West Coast Bikers Church. Yet my ragged journey is to me like relatives in my family tree. One of my cousins was in jail but to know him most would be to love him except for his stupidity getting caught doing what the clever Wall Street boys do without getting caught. I'd not disown him any more than I would the wisdom of my Pagan friend, Ted MacGillivrary, who celebrates the trees of Scotland. In my Celtic Christianity there as ample room for Science, the Bible, and Theology.
Apparently I have enough 'credentials' and 'experience' for a Doctor of Divinity from this lesser more humble university. I have a pretigious Doctor degree from a greater university I'm already so very grateful for. I'm a master of my ship too with all my navigation and sailing papers but I like now that I'm a Master of Divinity as well. God is my lodestar. My psychiatrist mentor Dr. John White would have little difficulty with me having a major in ministry. There's so much overlap in psychotherapy and pastoral counseling especially when we work in the field of addictions. Some say addiction is idolatry and those that fair best in recovery appear to embrace most spirituality. For now I'll continue to be a student.

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