I hate to say it, but seminary drains my creativity. It’s not that I lose all creatively whenever I am taking classes; rather it seems all by creative faculties are being put to use through writing papers, giving presentations, and writing sermons. These actions are certainly artistic in and of themselves, and I do enjoy the artistic process of writing a paper or a sermon. It’s just that little time and energy remain for other artistic passions.
For me, this means songwriting. The summer before I entered seminary (the first time, in 2004) was the most prolific songwriting period of my life. In those three months I finished at least nine songs. In the following three years, during which I went to seminary full-time, I wrote seven. And to be honest, many of my attempts were simply not very good. The ones that did survive are characterized by a decidedly darker tone than those that preceded seminary.
What if our seminary curriculum included artistic expression at its core? I am grateful that I had the opportunity to write a little liturgical music for our Blue Christmas service in December, and happy to see invitation for visual art submissions for the chapel during lent. But these opportunities are in addition to the seminary curriculum, not a part of it. What if the seminary had a director of artistic expression, and space and time—and credit hours—were allowed for students to engage in visual art, creative writing, and music. Imagine the wealth and breadth of art that would be produced for the benefit of the seminary community, and perhaps the larger church! And the benefit to students of having another method of engagement to process the new ideas often learned in seminary classes would be substantial.