Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Back to School, Back to San Francisco

I'm heading back to graduate school, the one I wanted to attend originally. I'll also be going back to San Francisco for the first time since I moved back to Salt Lake six years ago.

The school I'll be attending is primarily distance learning, but includes conferences twice a year. This has always struck me as a good model, and is one of the models that has influenced the Gnosis Institute (with annual conferences planed). The school is Saybrook Graduate School, and it has been using this model for 35 years. It was founded as an institute for humanistic psychology in a time when academic psychology was much more influenced by behaviorism.

What kept me from attending Saybrook years ago were concerns about becoming licensed as a therapist. I had once planned on pursuing my interest in C. G. Jung's work to the point of becoming a Jungian Analyst, a process of study and formation that begins after one is a licensed and practicing therapist. However, the American Psychological Association had been working for years reforming licensing, seeking more of a medical model than an academic one. This resulted in Doctor of Psychology and Marriage and Family Therapy programs to follow the new models and meet the new requirements. This was a factor in my moving to the bay area years ago, to get employment and eventually to attend a school there.

I found employment there. I tend to do well when the work is the emphasis of the job, and not so well when it is on perception and company politics. At that point in the bay area in the technical field, it was mostly about the work, and I succeeded and excelled. So much so, that I stayed with a pioneering and (momentarily) successful company in silicon valley, which lead me to take the graveyard shift to avoid the traffic (and to use more than two gears), leaving me out of sync and far from campus. When my father's health worsened, and an opportunity to transfer in my company opened up, I didn't even think about not being able to attend the school after I moved, because I hadn't been able to do so anyway.

I considered Saybrook a few times after I moved back to Salt Lake, but it didn't seem like a viable option. Using my technical credentials to satisfy requirements for a technical degree appealed for a short time, and, as my circumstances changed, I considered things I hadn't considered before, like Law school, and a combination of Law and Social Work. Perhaps, if I hadn't spent the previous years learning so many systems—systems of networking, computer operating systems, programing systems—I may have gotten further when I decided to try some of it out. But, I was impatient to get beyond all of these partly arbitrary, partly logical, almost entirely artificial systems, not spend more years learning even more systems, only to then work within their confines.

After I had some time to recover from one of the worst and most cult-like companies I've ever worked for, I started approaching all of this afresh. I had been thinking in terms of professional credentials, but having earned some of the highest and most respected in the technical field, the main result was being essentially unemployable in the area I lived in. Facing mortality also helps with considerations of “what do I want to do in the short term, or eventually, or before I die?” I most enjoy learning and exploring, the process of inquiry, which also includes teaching and writing to further explore, consider, and share. These paralleled considerations that lead to the Gnosis institute: a nexus for a learning community, exploring unimaginably valuable and relatively undeveloped fields.

So, I'm back in school. The book I'm working on will be broken down into smaller projects along the way, and probably have it's first incarnation as a dissertation. The program is one you can do at your own pace, and I plan to pick up the pace. The first year will probably be the hardest. So, I don't know how much time I will have for other things. I plan on producing a calendar for next year, and to still record homilies. The podcasts will have less editing for certain, as that is a task that always takes far longer than I anticipate.

The journey begins with a journey back to San Francisco. Not only is it my first time back, it will be the first trip I've taken in quite a while. The Salt Lake area really is a nice place to visit. But it can be a downright strange place to work, and a fairly odd place to live at times. Visiting other areas regularly has been my strategy for living here, to regularly re-center outside of the isolating tendency of local geography and culture. With this practice, and an unusual employer or self-employment, living in Salt Lake can be quite nice, if still a bit odd. This trip is the first of regular visits to San Francisco while I'm in school, and I hope the first of a few other trips that may be possible.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Anniversary Weekend in Portland, 3/24-25

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the ordination of Rev. Fr. Steven Marshall, pastor of the Queen of Heaven Gnostic Church, the Portland parish of the Ecclesia Gnostica. Many of you will know him as the author of the many homilies on the Gnosistic Society's website.

This year marks another landmark anniversary as this April marks the 40th anniversary of the consecration of Most Rev. Stephan Hoeller, presiding bishop of the Ecclesia Gnostica.

The dedication required to do this work is laudable in itself, but the dedication to continue this work for decades is hard to imagine. Going through the long and difficult work to become a priest, and then really just beginning. Holding liturgical services when only a few may attend, and doing so year after year. Working with all kinds of people with all kinds of expectations about what Gnosticism, a church, or a priest should be. Being there for people mostly through difficult times, presiding at more funerals than weddings. Seeing many more people start the formation process to become clergy than finish it. Going on after the inevitable conflicts, through the inevitable cycles. Continuing when there is little support, and rising to the greater demands that come with a larger congregation. So that you can be there for those who may benefit from your service. This is not an easy path, and bears little if any resemblance to what people expect it to be. And, it is not a paid job, not a source of income, it costs and you have to do other things to pay for it.

Join the celebration in Portland if you are able. Anniversary Weekend will be held on March 24th and 25th in Portland. Dr. Stephan Hoeller, in town for the celebration, will give a lecture Saturday on the Gospel of Judas. This will be followed by a buffet dinner at a Thai restaurant. On Sunday morning, Bishop Hoeller will celebrate the Eucharist service.

Please, send your donation towards an anniversary gift, as a token of appreciation for such service, to:

S. Poe
QOHGC Secretary
P. O. Box 418,
Gladstone, OR 97027

Make Checks payable to “Queen of Heaven Gnostic Church.”