Make Room For Life’s Tangents

I was in the cafeteria before class last week when I noticed a group of friends having a lively conversation at the table next to mine. They were passing around the school’s course book and discussing degree requirement. I was having a fun time listening to them talk about the best teachers and giving each other advice on how to schedule when one of them brought up electives. She mentioned that she was curious about an elective class on environmentalism and the Bible. The conversation went something like this:

1: Oh look! It’s that green theology course taught by Dr. ______. I heard that was really good. That could be one of my electives.

2: Since when are you interested in theology of the environment? I thought your whole thing was racial justice? That seems like a waste of an elective.

1: I guess. I just heard this was a good class and…I don’t know…I’m just curious, I guess. You’re probably right though. I would be random on my transcript.

2: Plus, you could probably find a class that fulfills multiple requirements. You’ll never use that other class.

Other friends at the table quickly agreed with “2” and encouraged “1” to just get done with her requirements as soon as possible.

Upon hearing this exchange I wanted to leap across the room yelling, “NNNnnnnooooooooooooo…..!”

It is my firm belief that you should take every class that even slightly strikes your fancy. Don’t worry if it doesn’t fit your major or what your main passion is at this point in your life.

First of all, there are going to be so few times in life when you can take the time to learn new things from experts and people who have incredible passion. It is a luxury to be able to read books and have in-depth conversations. If you have a chance to learn…especially something out of your comfort zone…TAKE IT!

Secondly, and most importantly, everything is important and useful when it comes to religion. One of the greatest gifts I’ve been given is the realization that (1) it’s ok to experiment with new ideas because what I loved 5 or 10 years ago it TOTALLY different than what I’m into now; and (2) it doesn’t matter anyway because I have used almost everything I have ever learned in some shape or form—no matter how random—in this incredibly complicated and non-linear path that is life. You might be surprised how knowing a little about a whole mess of different things will end up serving you as an academic, a pastor, religious leader, or just as a person.

All of this is to say that when you’re looking through courses, don’t worry about what looks good or what you think you’re supposed to take. Does that class look interesting? Take it. Have you heard that that professor is one of the best teachers on campus? Take her class and learn from one of the best!

Be an active and curious participant in life and in school! You’ll thank me for it later.