Back to School: A Rabbi & His 12

“Daddy, why are you going to Chicago again?” my 6 year old asked as I tried to explain why this would be our last “story and snuggle time” for an entire week. The conversation continued as follows:

“Peter, you know how Jesus was a great teacher, right?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“And how he had 12 disciples who spent time learning from him?”

“Yes, like Peter the fisherman I’m named after.”

“Well, daddy gets to go to Chicago to learn from another great teacher named Scot. He’s going to teach me more about the kingdom of God.”

“But daddy, you’re a pastor and you already know everything.”

[cue the laughter and a tinge of fatherly pride]Ā 

“No, Peter, we’ll never stop learning more and more about Jesus and the Kingdom of God. I’m going back to school to learn under a great teacher like Jesus,” I concluded.

I watched his little mind process my explanation, and I think he understood why I was going away to Chicago for my first doctoral intensive with Dr. Scot McKnight. But he had one more precious question.

“Daddy, is this the kind of school that you sleep at like Hogwarts?”

I had only recently tried to explain what a boarding school is as we read about Harry Potter and his fascinating adventures at Hogwart’s School of Wizardry. As images of the dark, gothic style castle school flashed through his little mind, his eyes lit up as he imagined me be assigned to Gryffindor for a week, and he said with delight:

“Daddy, will you please take a picture of the school for me?”

“Of course I will!”

Well, my week at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois has come and gone. It was a sweet coincidence to discover that there are exactly 12 students enrolled for this 4 year journey together towards becoming “doctors of the church.” I couldn’t help chuckling as we went out for lunch our first day together and there I saw our master teacher, Scot McKnight sitting at a long rectangular table surrounded by his 12 eager disciples. There were no takers on my suggestion that we all pose on one side of the table for our “First Supper” photo. :)

I had a great time getting to know my new classmates who will become family before this journey is over. We all soaked in the wisdom of our teacher, and our cohort is filled with very bright people I’m excited to learn with and from. This is going to be fun!

I hope to share more insights soon — especially about the purpose of this unique D.Min. program and the direction of my research thesis. But for now I’ll leave you with my promised photo for Peter of Northern Seminary’s version of Gryffindor. First an explanation and apology to the school.

Northern is soon vacating their old campus to move to a new location. The once-beautiful campus is now largely vacated and is starting to look it. As I left campus I found the most overgrown part of the building, and did some photo doctoring to make it look as Hogwartish as possible. I’m certain the seminary admissions committee will not be using these photos to attract new students.

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