Sunday, May 21, 2006


Today I'm going to take a break from blathering on about myself and my job to brag about my husband Bob. I'm not one who normally likes to brag about things, but he's definitely worth a temporary break in my reticence. On Friday, he graduated from one of the most prestigious seminaries in the world, one historically famous for its association with world-renowned religious scholars (this should give you the hint that I'm not talking about Bob Jones University here). However, not only did he graduate, he also received the highest award granted to students graduating with a Masters of Divinity degree. It's a fellowship that will allow him to travel anywhere in the next year to either study or teach in his field. Also, we discovered that at a place where students either pass, fail, or receive distinctions in their courses, he was the student who graduated with the highest number of distinctions. He jokingly said to one of the faculty members after the commencement ceremony, "Well, I guess I should just die right now," to which she replied, "You're right. In this field, it isn't going to get much better than this."

All this is worth being very proud of, and I am (although, it's sort of silly, because it isn't as if I had anything to do with it. He would have earned all these accolades whether I'd been here or not). However, what I am most proud of is how many of his professors (remember, these are people I "worship," scholars we've read about for years, many whose writing has changed my life, people I'm still amazed I've been lucky enough to have met) have described him not only as a brilliant student but also as being so very kind. That's what makes me proud -- that I somehow managed to luck out and marry a man so many people describe as "kind." And, it's true. One of the things that still amazes me about Bob, after ten years of marriage, is that I've rarely met anyone in my life who is so warm and affectionate towards others, so willing to focus on their good and not their bad.

Bob entered seminary with the notion that he wanted to help change the perception of what most intellectuals in this country have come to think of when they read or hear the word "Christian," a word that has been used and abused by politicians and many others in recent times (actually, it hasn't just been in recent times, but my point is better made by pretending it has been). He also saw faith as a way to pursue his true passion, which is, as he articulates it now, "care for all of God's creation, not just human beings," that passion being the environment, as well as other animals. We're not sure what his next move will be -- many at the seminary would like him to get his Ph.D.; others say the ministry desperately needs pastors like him; creating his own environmental movement, pulling together people of all faiths through that faith, would be a dream come true for him. At this point, it doesn't even really matter, though. I'm sure his passion and his kind heart will lead him to success no matter what he chooses.


Anonymous said...

I think you underestimate your own value when you say that Bob "would have earned all these accolades whether I'd been here or not." I have 2 reasons for saying that.
Firstly, obviously, if you had not been working and creating a supportive environment for him, his work might have suffered. He sounds really brilliant, but even brilliant people need to feel supported to really shine. Being loved can make people soar. So, though I can't estimate how much your presence in his life contributed to his academic excellence, it must have contributed something - I suspect it was probably a lot.
We'll call my second reason the Butterfly Effect, to continue the environmental metaphor. In any ecosystem, you cannot take one element out without it affecting the entire ecosystem in an often unpredictable manner. The anti-environmentalists don't get this concept. Removing you from Bob's life would affect him in the predictable way I described above, but also in unpredictable ways that no one may be able to expect. But not only you. Removing any single element from any of our lives will inevitably draw our lives in new directions. To achieve what we achieve it not possible without ALL the things that have happened to us throughout our whole lives from having occured just as they occured. So, even some butterfly flapping its wings in a far away rainforest, contributed in some small, unfathomable way to Bob manifesting his brilliance in school. Of course the biggest element is Bob himself. But I suspect you are the second most significant element in the course of events that lead to his achievements.
Of course, by extension of this argument, in some unpredictable way I also contributed to Bob's brilliance. As Gandalf said in The Lord of the Rings, "that's a comforting thought."
So, Emily Barton, if I can make an argument for a butterfly contributing to Bob's brilliance, you should not underestimate your own worth and value as his partner in contributing to this achievement. Why do you think parents are so proud when their kids graduate? Underneath their breath, they're saying, "Yep, look at him now. I did that!"

Anonymous said...

I agree with the lady who wrote the first comment. It is a full -throttle cliché to speak of marriage as a partnership. However, the intent of PAUL's writings on marriage are unmistakable, unless you have been to a hyper intellectualized seminary that seek to use human wisdom to explain what is going on around us; or should I say, explain away what God has said in His Word.

Faith, Divine Revelation, speaking in unknown tongues, casting out demons, prophecy, etc. The unreasonable list goes on. Men and women speak ex cathedra from their own intellects and explain why these phenomena clearly described and discussed in the Bible were figments of cultural, imagination, mass hysteria, a conspiracy of monumental proportions. The mendacity of deceived apostles trying to get ahead in the TELL- evangelism business.

Many were tortured and died for telling what they said they saw. Would any of us willingly die for what we knew to be a lie.

Who was Jesus? In one anti-intellectual dichotomy----- He was either who he said he was or a liar (make that an insane psychopathic liar). There is no middle ground here, no split hairs, no intellectual word play that allows alternatives, such as . "He was a good man who did nice things." Or maybe "he was a prophet and he suffered the fate of most prophets.

NO those reasonable explanations don't cut it. Why not? Because that is not what he said.

We all know John 3:16. WE see the banner at every football game," For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Who is speaking here? It is not John. It is Jesus speaking about Himself.

So Bob, I pray for you to receive Divine revelation from the Holy Spirit about how to use the magnificent gift God has given you. Believe and receive the Mind of Christ.