What Your Seminary Says About You

Hey there, Reverend. I’ll be honest: I’ve spent three months trying to write one encouraging post about “ministry in the age of coronavirus,” and another about “motivating your church to work for racial justice,” and I just don’t have enough in the tank. Maybe you’ll get those when the pandemic is over. Or when I have child care again. Whichever comes first.

I recently attended a compulsory clergy retreat, on the topic of Finding Your Center During a Global Pandemic. By “attended” I mean I turned off my Zoom video and half-listened through headphones while feeding beans to my toddler and then helping her fit the pig, barn, and chicken pieces into her farm puzzle approximately 1,000 times. I only caught the gist, which I believe was “find your center,” but as I pocketed the rejected pieces of the farm puzzle (sheep, goat, horse, cow, and duck), I thought about the three things that help me center my soul instead of letting it spin around like an unsteady top:

  1. Dwelling in the presence of Jesus, who is the light and hope of my life.
  2. The love of my family and friends, even when transmitted over Zoom.
  3. Dumb jokes.

It is in the spirit of this last item that I present to you the following list. If your seminary is not included, it’s probably because I don’t know enough about it to come up with any sweeping generalizations, but if you mention it in the comments I’ll make one up.

I hope you will take this list in good fun (and perhaps comment to let me know whether I got your seminary right). We’re in this together, Reverend. Hang in there.

Updated 6/28/20 to add: SFTS, Mundelein, Loyola Chicago, Lancaster, Starr King, Union Presbyterian, Columbia, Andover Newton, Berkeley at Yale, Boston University, Asbury, Candler, Starr King, Meadville Lombard, Brite, Vanderbilt, Northern, Austin Presbyterian, Garrett-Evangelical, and Chicago Theological Seminary. Keep the suggestions coming!

Updated 6/29/20 to add: Bangor, Gordon-Conwell, LSTP, LSTG, United, Dallas, Perkins, Moravian, Seabury-Western, and Bexley Hall. I’m going to stop adding to this post lest it become unfunnily long, but will continue to reply to the comments.

What Your Seminary Says About You

Virginia Theological Seminary
You are 27 years old and contemplating your first run for bishop.

Church Divinity School of the Pacific
You own at least one article of clothing made out of hemp.

San Francisco Theological Seminary
You got into CDSP, but hemp makes you itch.

Philadelphia Divinity School
You are old.

Seabury-Western Theological Seminary
You don’t understand why people say the North Shore is out of touch.

Bexley Hall
You don’t really mind that no one has heard of you.

Bexley Seabury
You wanted to go to seminary but you also had other stuff to do, you know?

Calvin Theological Seminary
Your last name begins with a V.

Nashotah House
You are exploring your call toward celibacy.

Pacific School of Religion
You are exploring your call toward polyamory.

University of Chicago Divinity School
You are exploring your call toward getting an unemployable Ph.D.

Episcopal Divinity School (pre-EDS at Union)
You feel most at home in settings that replicate your dysfunctional family of origin.

General Theological Seminary
You have seriously considered pursuing a career as a vestment model.

Episcopal Divinity School (post-EDS at Union)
You don’t care that much about vestments, but you still thought it would be cool to go to seminary in New York.

Union Theological Seminary
You wonder why your friends reach for their drinks every time you say the word “praxis.”

Union Presbyterian Seminary
You are tempted to reach for your own drink every time you say, “No, the other Union.”

Harvard Divinity School
You are Unitarian, or wish you were.

Yale Divinity School
You are Episcopalian, or wish you were.

Berkeley Divinity School at Yale
You took great umbrage at the absence of a separate entry for Berkeley in the first draft of this post.

Andover Newton (pre- or post-Yale)
You’re still not sure whether it’s technically true that you went to Yale.

Catholic Theological Union
You’re not that kind of Catholic.

Mundelein Seminary
You are that kind of Catholic.

Boston University School of Theology
You’re not Catholic. That’s Boston College.

Loyola University Chicago
You’re not Catholic but Loyola gave you pretty good financial aid, so.

Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
You believe with all your heart that the Catholic Church will start ordaining women any day now.

Princeton Theological Seminary
You’re not that kind of evangelical.

Portland Seminary
You totally are that kind of evangelical, but you also love trees.

Trinity School for Ministry
You totally are that kind of evangelical. WANNA FIGHT?!?!?!

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
You are not an evangelical. Well, it depends on what you mean by “evangelical.” It’s complicated.

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
You are a former InterVarsity staff worker and have the relentless enthusiasm to prove it.

Episcopal Theological Seminary
You are old.

Northern Seminary
You see no reason not to say you went to seminary in Chicago.

Bangor Theological Seminary
You can ride a moose, but you don’t make a big deal about it.

Moravian Theological Seminary
You no longer bother to correct people who assume you are from Moravia, the country.

United ____________ Seminary
You can’t understand how two financially unstable seminaries managed to consolidate into one equally financially unstable seminary.

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
You really wish people would stop asking you about Ravi Zacharias.

Iliff School of Theology
You really wish people would stop asking you about Nadia Bolz-Weber.

Duke Divinity School
You really wish people would stop asking you about the Traditional Plan.

Asbury Theological Seminary
You really wish people would START asking you about the Traditional Plan.

Luther Seminary
You really wish people would stop mimicking the way you say “about.”

Candler School of Theology at Emory
You have thought long and hard about whether you are an Emily or an Amy.

Wesley Theological Seminary
You believe that roads have middles for a reason.

Lancaster Theological Seminary
You spend a lot of time saying, “No, it’s LANK-uh-stir.”

Perkins School of Theology
You’re not from THAT seminary in Dallas.

Dallas Theological Seminary
You are only aware of one seminary in Dallas.

Columbia Theological Seminary
You have an impeccable wardrobe and a quiet sense of judgment.

School of Theology at Sewanee
You wonder if it would be in poor taste to wear a seersucker alb.

Lutheran School of Theology at Gettysburg
You’re not here for the drama.

Lutheran School of Theology at Philadelphia
You are SO here for the drama.

Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
You pronounce each letter of “LGBTQ+” as a separate word.

McCormick Theological Seminary
You feel quietly superior to people who went to LSTC.

Chicago Theological Seminary
You believe that chanting the words “community organizing” counts as community organizing.

Starr King School for the Ministry
You are offended when people assume you believe in God, but also offended when they assume you don’t.

Meadville Lombard Theological School
You spend a lot of time riding public transit.

Vanderbilt Divinity School
You claim to know Amy-Jill Levine personally, even if you don’t.

Brite Divinity School
You are startled by the assumptions people make when they learn that you went to seminary in Fort Worth.

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
You have three hobbies: drinking craft beer, discussing craft beer, and thinking up catchy names for worship services held in bars.

Seminary of the Southwest
You spend a lot of time explaining that you went to a real seminary.

Fuller Theological Seminary
You own 18 pairs of flip-flops and an electric guitar.

North Park Theological Seminary
You are Swedish.

Multnomah Biblical Seminary
You are not reading this post.

138 thoughts on “What Your Seminary Says About You

      1. I enjoy your blog and am glad that you are back! But I have to say I’m a Candler grad and I don’t get it… maybe because it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m sleepy.

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      2. It’s an Indigo Girls joke! (Emily Saliers & Amy Ray make up the band Indigo Girls; Emily’s dad, Don Saliers, teaches at Candler. The handful of Candler grads I know reported that the band, or at least their music, had a big presence there, and they happen to be my favorite band so I couldn’t resist.

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      3. Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond: You secretly want to dress like an Episcopalian and drink like a Presbyterian, but your remain Baptist because nobody is going to tell you what to do except for Jesus.

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    1. Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond: You secretly want to dress like an Episcopalian and drink like a Presbyterian, but your remain Baptist because nobody is going to tell you what to do except for Jesus.

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    1. Before the merger: that’s not really my school

      After the merger: Philly doesn’t really count

      Not that I have skin in the game, but that’s what I’ve noticed from my interactions

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  1. HDS grad here. Respectful request to update this to read “Unitarian Universalist” as that’s the actual name of the religion. But otherwise I see nothing wrong with this.

    For my friends, add Starr King School for the Ministry and Meadville Lombard Theological School (you may not know enough about them but you know enough about HDS to know about us generally so… have at it)

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    1. We just missed each other at HDS! (Class of 2015 here.) I think of “Unitarian Universalist” as a religious tradition with a distinct history and polity, and “Unitarian” as a broader descriptor for people who identify with some aspects of inherited Christian tradition but are on uneasy terms with the Trinity. Some of my classmates in this category, but not all, eventually made the leap to the UUA.

      I will ponder what to add for Meadville Lombard and Starr King!

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      1. Updated to add:

        Meadville Lombard: You spend a lot of time riding public transit.

        Starr King: You are offended when people assume you believe in God, but also offended when they assume you don’t.

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      2. That’s fair — they are distinct terms, and perhaps the latter is what was meant here. I’m just used to so many folks (including our own) shortening UU to Unitarian when they really mean Unitarian Universalist and not Unitarian Christian.

        I have to say, as UU regardless of seminary I am feeeeeling Starr King’s one. XD

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  2. United theological seminary (Dayton, OH)

    Willie Nelson was once on the Board of Directors

    We boast the first female United Methodist Seminary president (I fact checked it myself)

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    1. As a white pastor in a historically white denomination I don’t feel qualified to make any generalizations here, but I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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    1. Pittsburgh Theological Seminary – you ace church history and the history of Christian thought, scour a 300,000 volume library learning more than you’d ever thought you’d want to know about bullae and their political significance, and then when you finally get to courses like homiletics and pastoral care, fail miserably.

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  3. Look, this is great! Thank you!!! (I also wish Candler made the list…but c’mon y’all, this is a hilarious list.)

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  4. How about places like New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary or Southern Baptist a theological a Seminary or the other SBC ones?

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  5. Wartburg Theological Seminary (Dubuque, IA). Were I choosing one, I’d say: “everytime someone mentions a mango you immediately wonder whether or not it’s righteous.”

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  6. Here’s some thoughts: Truett Seminary at Baylor – You complain to everyone about Chip and Joanna Gaines, McAfee School of Theology (Mercer) – You wanted to be a big fish in a small pond and you are, Campbell Divinity School – Your parents still shudder at the word moderate, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – You aren’t sure anyone else on this list is saved, Wake Forest University School of Divinity – You don’t work in a church or you’ve been kicked out of one, Southeastern – You’re still convinced it is your calling to start a church in Germany. Feel free to steal any of them 🙂

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  7. My endorser said this: “Claremont School of Theology. You wanted an Ivy League education but with Southern California weather.” —CH Tom Yates

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  8. Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary… there’s a lot of material…much like the other seminaries you’ve included from Berkeley like CDSP, PSR etc. but I’m not sure what would work best..

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  9. Love the Claremont one; I hope you add it! I went to Luther and don’t remember anything strange about the pronunciation of “about” (but then, I’m a Midwesterner) but I do remember the theology jokes late at night in the computer lab were more esoteric than my medical and IT ones, which were pretty obscure to start with.

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  10. Hey, American Baptist Seminary of the West is in the same group of schools as SFTS and Starr King. So… “ABSW: You started off in the SBC and had NO idea what you were walking into.”

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  11. Phillips Theological Seminary- you are too woke to work for an actual church but weren’t woke or wealthy enough to attend Brite

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  12. Talbot (Biola University): you married your sweetheart before you graduated undergrad, or you’re a Korean staying in the second floor of the library

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  13. This is so funny! Thanks for sharing these. It seems like you keep expanding the list, which is great. I went to Andover Newton, but since I am from Puerto Rico, I thought you should add Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico (Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico), the mainline churches’ seminary in the Island. “Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico: You are not sure whether you are a mainliner or a Pentecostal… but are probably both.” LOL

    Like

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