Should all go according to plan, I will graduate next summer with a Master’s degree in Theology & Culture (MATC). When asked about my studies, the question that most often follows is what I’m going to do with such a degree. Unlike the other two programs at The Seattle School, the Master of Divinity (MDiv) and the Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology (MACP), the MATC is not a degree pursued for a specific vocation. While most of our classmates are training to become pastors and therapists, we are a handful of misfits trying to find a different way.
In 1997, Apple Inc. began using the phrase “think different” as an advertising slogan. Along with this campaign, the following text was used in Apple’s television commercials featuring those whose lives illustrate what it means to ‘think different’:
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do.”
I couldn’t describe those of us who find ourselves en route for the MATC any better. We are a passionate people and full of compassion; lovers of God and people. We are dreamers. We make things up. We are going somewhere, we just aren’t always sure where we may end up. Indeed, we are following a path less traveled by. We aren’t quite sure where we fit, and are often described as the middle child within the programs. But we are crazy enough to think we can change things. And I think we
The program itself is being shaped by the people in it. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all degree. In fact, the very thing I love about this program is that it can be customized to fit each one of us who don’t quite fit elsewhere.
From my youth, I’ve had a strong desire to work in ministry. At one time, my options were limited primarily to work within the church. I’ve since come to the realization that ministry is not so limited. I’m here because I’m intrigued by communitas, specifically as it relates to roasting coffee, being in relationship with those whose livelihoods are directly affected by coffee, and a love for theology that I can’t seem to shake. My classmates are theologians, photographers, writers, artists, film/theatre directors, creators of non-profits, and advocates against injustice. Some of us may never have a title, and we’re okay with that. Our theology is what shapes us and informs what we do. While many of us may never find work within the church, I would argue that our work is ministry nonetheless.
We realize that most of us can do our work without having to obtain a degree. At the same time, we could not imagine doing our work without this degree. Truly, we are indebted to this program, in more ways than financially. The education and experience we’ve gained through our time in the MATC at The Seattle School is invaluable.