Last October, we hosted the first annual Symposia: An Intersection of Conversation & Innovation, a forum in which alumni of The Seattle School presented the ongoing work they are pursuing at the intersection of text, soul, and culture. Integrative education does not end at graduation, and our alumni are proof of that. Symposia highlighted the ways that our alumni are continuing to wrestle with big questions and big dreams in theology, psychology, and culture.

“We need each other more than we need to agree.”

Here, we’re thrilled to present Martha Hopler’s (MA in Spiritual Nurture, 2005) talk, “Can’t We Just Be Friends? Psychology & Theology in Conversation.” Martha shares her dismay at encountering the notion that the two fields are irreconcilably separate, that we can work in theology or psychology, but the two have nothing to do with each other. Martha shares what the practice of contemplation and silence has taught her about an incarnational theology that values people above the relentless need to be right.

“It feels so important to us to know what is right and what is true. […] What I have to worry about is who will I be as I walk into those conversations and begin to ask questions and be curious.”

When our psychology or our theology places more value on debating and entertaining than on meaningful connection, we have little space for brokenness, doubt, or difficulty. Martha recalls her own experience of losing her father at the age of 14, and wonders what it looks like for the people of God to enter that story, without treating suffering and brokenness as something to be covered up.

“It begins with being in community, where we’re willing to ask harder questions. […] Is there something in God’s story that meets my story?”

Martha recalls the ongoing dance of the Trinity, the belief that the very core of God’s self is a relationship that changes everything.

“Everything changing is a sense of what I believe is a movement toward eternity, that all things are being made new. It’s not that we’re making new things, it’s that we’re making all things new.”

Near the end of her presentation, Martha shares a compelling poem she wrote exploring the dance between “you, me, and the other,” pondering the idea of “letting go of me to make space for you.” This idea—creating a space in which we can learn from each other and wrestle with big ideas together—is central to our heart behind the Symposia gathering. Stay tuned in coming months as we continue to share videos about what our alumni are learning and creating in theology, psychology, and culture.

Martha Hopler | Psychology and Theology in Conversation | Symposia 2015 from The Seattle School on Vimeo.