I recently graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary with a Masters in Theology. I am writing a series of blogs about that experience. This is #3. You’re welcome to go back and read the first two or just jump in here.
My first two years I focused on academics, specifically languages and Bible. In the middle of my first year, my friend Katie walked up to me. Well, I guess she wasn’t my friend yet. We hadn’t met yet. But now she is a friend and a leader of Art House here in Dallas. Katie asked me if I was Todd Agnew. I said “Yes,” because I was. Then she asked me about the worship program at DTS, and I had to be honest and say I knew nothing about it. We continued talking, eventually getting to the topic of my struggle writing papers. Katie is a good writer, and she suggested a creative writing class in our Media Arts and Worship department. I put it on my list of things to do when I could. I didn’t get around to it until year three.
At the beginning of my creative writing class, Jed (my TA) said something that had a huge impact on me. “Most of seminary is about minimizing risk. In your language classes, you are trying to get all the wrong answers out and get to the correct translation. In theology, you are trying to rule out any incorrect or heretical ideas and get to correct interpretation. You are trying to minimize risk. But art is about taking risks. So you are going to have to unlearn some things to do well in here.” He was so right.
I spent the whole semester thinking about what risk I could take. Every assignment, I didn’t just try to do well; I tried to take a risk. And I found some freedom in that. I realized that Jed wasn’t saying that pursuing right answers in languages and theology wasn’t right. It is. We should want that. But creating art is a different process. In the end, I started reconnecting the artist side of me and the academic side. They both have value. And they can work together. But they are not the same.
I have continued to explore this world of academics and art. I have searched for where they meet and how they inform each other. I have looked at how we sometimes judge one by the standards of the other. And I have looked for biblical and theological understanding of this intersection. It’s all fascinating stuff. For me. But wife says I’m a nerd. So I won’t bore you with all the details, but it has been a great journey.