Saturday, September 18, 2010

GWC... and moving on

I've been meaning to post a review of my experience at George Wythe for some time, but can't quite bring myself to do it yet.  My decisions to attend, to keep attending, and to pursue certain life paths following it involve a lot of private contemplation, inspiration from charismatic teachers, and simple growing that I don't like to talk about because my experience has been that not everybody respects my readiness to make my own decisions in life or even respect whether I properly understand myself and my own wishes.

To boil down my experience at George Wythe down to a nutshell, I'd say this.  If you feel prompted by the Spirit that you are supposed to attend, don't miss the opportunity of a lifetime.  If you didn't feel that prompting, stay away unless you have your basic course in life plotted out and can afford to spend a lot of luxury time in personal development.  Anything I'd say about whether certain things the school has done may never really be of any value to anyone else, because the school is constantly changing and tinkering with itself.  One school year a certain course might be taught effectively, another year that same class might be a total joke.  So I could spend a lot of time criticizing or praising certain things and a current student might think I attended a completely different school than they are in.

I'm in part reluctant to criticize an institution that has brought me so much personal growth.  I attribute my ability to understand the basic ebb and flow of group discussions primarily to unique education experiences I don't believe I would have had elsewhere.  I attribute my widening vision of the world from a very narrow minded foolish and angry outlook to a much broader, accepting, and much more careful outlook to experiences I had at that school.  Some of those I could possibly have gotten elsewhere, but I don't think so.  A normal school experience is probably too specialized to have rewritten the broad swath of my understanding of society.  It probably could have fixed several areas of my understanding, but not the whole thing.  I remember feeling like I had woken up, being intensely embarrassed by my past strong opinions, and wondering if I had really known much of anything before I came.  It's a mind expanding experience.  There's no other way around it.  Its hard to explain the differences because they are so vast.  For example, my entire view of sexuality's role in history had to be thrown out and replaced with something more accurate.  My entire viewpoint of the legal mechanics of freedom of religion was thrown out.  My entire viewpoint of property rights had to be rewritten (it used unconsciously hold as an axiom that actions regarding property were inherently distinct from the property and actions of others with only a few exceptions that didn't really exist enough to be worth taking into consideration).  And that's just a sampling and doesn't mention my understanding of modern biology, economic policy, judicial practice, cultural and identity diversity, global politics,... and I could go on if I thought about it long enough.

Criticizing the problems is different.  Problems are easy to mention because they are concrete and distinct.  There were just so many of those moments.  Like when a professor suggested that we might achieve a unified field theory faster if we rewrote the number theory based on the equation 1=600.  Or when someone else boldly suggested that Hebrew was the Adamic language.  Or when someone suggested that a bizzare grouping of 13 century writings should be considered almost like cannon scripture and came up with breath taking conspiracy theories explaining why so much of those writings were so easily dismissed by any modern examination.  Or when it was suggested that we were on the verge (or at least should be trying to be on the verge) of a number theory revolution that would remove the arbitrary symbol based limitations of numbers and replace it with a numbering system that wasn't separate or apart from reality.  Or that since the modern scientific method of evidence based observation was really simply the religious conclusions of a whole bunch of people without authority then there was no reason that we shouldn't rewrite the religious premises of the science and come up with practical scientific conclusions more or less directly on revelation.  Uncertain about where Heisenberg's nasty little particle has gotten off to or how fast its going?  Just pray about it...  Ok that one is a slight exaggeration, nobody actually suggested the uncertainty principle was untrue or could be replaced by revelation, but that would be a good example of applying the proposed system.

So lets just say that when I was first at the school I was enamored by the idea of transmitting the mind evolving paradigm shifts that I experienced at the school to others and I wanted to teach at GWC or a similar school.  Anyone who has known me for long enough knows that I can be fairly good at delivering an impassioned lecture on a subject I feel deeply about, and I felt this was a good way to put that talent to use.  Later as I had to spend more and more time on the parts of the school that I didn't like, I realized more thoroughly that for every amazing wonderful thing that happened at the school, there were plenty of crazy things that happened that just left me embarrassed and wishing I wasn't affiliated with these people.  Eventually I decided I wouldn't really be happy being at the school in an official capacity.  Glad I went there?  Yes in many ways.  Ready to spend my life there?  No.

So, when Bonnie Jean came up with the idea of seminary teaching as a career option for me, that seemed like a perfect mix.  Bear impassioned testimony on subjects I feel deeply about, get to spend time studying scripture, and change peoples lives for the better.  But I miscommunicated with the teacher who ran the seminary training program and it turns out that my GWU degree means nothing to them.  Am I disappointed?  Yes.  Am I deeply shaken and shocked?  No, I'm not even surprised.  Its an experience somewhat like finding out I wasn't qualified for missionary service because of Asperger Syndrome except on a much smaller scale.  I had felt prompted that I should pursue doing it and that with the help of God I could accomplish it, but I had also felt spiritual promptings in advance of it becoming official or even before I was supposed to know that somehow it wasn't going to work out.  So when it doesn't work out my reaction isn't deep disappointment or anger, its just relief that I'm accomplishing one more step along the path I'm supposed to follow.  And I have to remind myself that what I'm becoming during this process of life may mean more to God than my immediate success at achieving any particular goal.  I seem to get a lot of those experiences, and I have to be careful because my self confidence and self esteem is sometimes a delicately crafted and balanced ornament rather than a deeply rooted part of myself.

So, its time to move on.  I've always felt that career wise God has been trying to give me my choice on the matter.  After so many years doing the George Wythe experience, I've gotten out of the habit of thinking about what I would like because I've been focused on trying to figure out how I could make the biggest impact on the lives of those around me and figure out how to do so in a professional capacity.  I still feel that I'm supposed to try to change people's lives in a way similar to how I was originally hoping to do.  But now I'm considering that perhaps that role is one that I will fulfill in private capacities.   Or in other words not getting paid to do it.

So now I'm turning back to my older and more enduring interests to see if I can find a life path from the things that I really enjoy.  I love science, and in particular I love learning about and being around animals.  So now I'm turning to biology.  With work and blessings from above, I hope to get into a normal university and be able to work myself through it without too much delay.  And then, perhaps just live life because that's what I like doing, rather than pursuing things that change me for the better while I'm pursuing them, but leave me without an immediate path forwards.

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