The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Among blood-drinking Satan worshippers, some seniors consider dvinity school and ministry

By Hector Ramos-Ramos

Macalester College doesn’t seem like a breeding ground for budding pastors. For years, the Princeton Review has consistently ranked Macalester as one of America’s least God-fearing schools. Though there are a variety of faith-centered organizations on campus seeking to vitalize a religious community, I think anyone would be hard-pressed to say that the average Macalester student considers what Jesus or Mohammad would do before any particularly troublesome endeavor. A skeptical attitude towards organized religion may be a symptom of a left-leaning campus dynamic, but also a healthy result of unbridled inquiry. Still, there are many students who try to make sense of a complicated world not by throwing away theism, but by seeking to keep it alive and relevant in this new century. Some students even wish to follow this by becoming ministers of their faith.

“My faith is an important part of who I am,” Sara Schultz ’09 said. Schultz, who was raised in a liberal Lutheran household, recently visited some of the country’s most prestigious divinity schools in order to learn more about what it means to be a clergy person, a line of work she thinks she may pursue.

As a child, she was strongly influenced by parents, whose ideals mirror many that Macalester considers important part of its ethos.

“My father, who is a Lutheran, taught me how Christianity was a religion of acceptance and how all people had a right to practice their faith while carrying on their lifestyle as they wished,” Schultz said.

She is a proud believer in Lutheranism’s potential as a force for unity against hatred, particularly in a time when Christianity is banded about for disparate and often contentious agendas. Yet, she conceded that she does not wish to emphasize differences between Christians.

“I am not one of those people who define their Christianity defensively by stressing how it is not like the type espoused by people using religion to justify unkind or exclusionary positions,” she said.

While Schultz claims that Macalester’s atmosphere has done little to stifle or strengthen her views, which have always been largely compatible with the school’s ideology, Megan Macpherson ’09, who is also thinking of becoming a minister, considers her Macalester education as instrumental to her full understanding of religion.

“Macalester is a great place to grow as a person of faith,” said Macpherson. “I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of challenging communities like Lives of Commitment, Mac Protestants and Lilly Summer Fellows that have allowed me to take risks in examining the grounds for my commitments.

“This campus encourages students to bring a critical lens to their faith practices. I wouldn’t feel confident pursuing this kind of future without having explored the undeniable flaws of the church institution at Macalester.”

People are attracted to religious vocation sfor reasons that one would perhaps not expect. Annie Gonzalez ’09, a Unitarian Universalist, was attracted to the idea early on.

“In high school, I thought it would be cool to be a minister because I liked creative writing, public speaking and talking to others about their lives,– and those are all things that ministers do,” she said.

Gonzalez sees the wide range of functions and responsibilities as attractive features of the profession.

“Ministry means ministering to people’s needs from a spiritual position,” she said. “This could really mean anything-from social justice work to chaplaincy to parish ministry in a congregation setting. It could mean listening to someone’s story, praying with someone over a loss, working in a homeless shelter, preaching a strong message of love and justice to different groups of people, or helping your community to fight injustice.”

These students, seeking to turn their faith into a career, find strength and unity in Macalester’s various organizations and in the chaplaincy.

“We have an amazing community of people of faith on campus,” Macpherson said. “There’s a lot of pluralism going on, and orgs go out of their way to show hospitality in sharing their traditions with other students.”

Gonzalez concurred. “Mac has most definitely enriched my growth as a person of faith and supported my journey toward ministry,” she said. “I cannot say enough good things about the Lilly Project or the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life.”
A school that not only allows for a plurality of opinion, but also encourages people to engage in the projects that they find most fruitful, is doing a valuable service to its informed, committed and curious students.

Whether Macalester is this kind of place, I cannot say, but I believe it is telling that there are those among us who feel at home among the skeptical and the nonreligious, while finding the internal resolve to continue their spiritual sojourns.

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