After finally accepting the fact that my sex does not disqualify me from leadership, finally accepting that I (might kind of sort of) have a gift for pastoring, and finally accepting that the next step was to earn an MDiv, the question became: where would I go?

Staying in the area I lived in wasn’t an option, as every pastor I spoke with made sure to impress upon me. The schools were dated in their questions and conservative in their answers—I would be isolated as a heretic. Worse, I wouldn’t be pushed to ask questions for the future church. I realized that I would need to move.

I had never lived outside of my little tri-county area; now, the entire country opened up to me. I had the grades and references to go anywhere I wanted. I pulled up lists of seminaries across the US. I made a spreadsheet and tried to determine what criteria would form my columns for comparison.

Through a lot of talks with pastors and sessions with my counselor, runs around the lake, coffees with friends, and asanas in the yoga studio, I finally came to realize that I didn’t need more training in how to do academics. That isn’t to say I didn’t need training—I very much did—just not academic training, which I could do well already. I didn’t need more brains as much as I needed more heart. I didn’t need to learn how to argue as much as I needed to learn how to connect. I didn’t need more texts as much as I needed more soul.

I had heard, and I’m guessing you have, too, about The Seattle School’s emphasis on “text, soul, and culture.” I took it to be a contrast with many other schools, who emphasize the texts their faculty have written, the texts to be read as their student, the importance of the scriptural texts. But at The Seattle School, text doesn’t stand alone, but is joined by soul and culture.

However, that joining does not lessen each individual part. It’s not that most schools spend their time on the One Thing and we divide our time, with less depth, between three. It’s relational—text is even more important to us because it’s not just text, it’s a text that influences our souls, a text that influences our cultures. It’s not just text, but text that we read through the narratives that have shaped our souls, it’s text that has been shaped by the narratives of our culture.

I came to The Seattle School because I thought I already had the abilities to read and understood text well enough on my own. I thought what I needed was the balance that adding soul and culture would bring to my life and my self.

I stayed because I realized that text is never understood well enough until it is in conversation with soul and culture.