Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Recent Happenings.

Since more family and friends will eventually read this blog, I figured it would be a good idea to include a more personal post about recent events in my life. So these are the most important things that have been happening lately:

1. I have officially decided to become Anglican. I can't tell you how seriously I take this decision, especially considering my ecclesiological journey since my freshman year of college. I am excited to become a part of something much larger than myself and publicly confess among the other members of the Church that I am committing to this particular confession. From my days in the charismatic movement, to the house churches, to the Episcopal Church, then to the Orthodox Church and then back again to the Anglican Church, I am thankful that the Lord has brought me to a place where I can serve the Kingdom of God most faithfully. I appreciate so much about the Anglican Church despite its many flaws. But most of all, I think that the Anglican Church is truly the place where ecumenical dialogue can take place. My heart is not only for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be preached throughout the world, but also within the global Church itself. Our Lord and Savior prayed the night before His death that His people would be one. I genuinely believe that this prayer intends for both an internal as well as external reality.

2. I've begun to think through the possibility of becoming a permanent deacon within the Anglican Church. I have no desire to become a priest, but I do have a desire to tangibly serve the entire body of Christ on a regular basis. I am thinking through what this would mean and look like as a permanent office of the Church rather than using it as a means to become a priest (which is often the case). I often forget that while speech about the Gospel is crucial and should not be diminished in importance, the deeds of mercy, justice, and compassion are also essential for the Christian life. I can not explain how excited I am at the prospect of having a tangible and constant avenue for practicing my belief that I should serve as the Lord Himself served.

3. I was asked to be a regular blogger at the Anglican's Writer's Block which is an online theology resource for the entire Anglican Church. It seeks to cultivate theological conversation not only among academics within the Anglican Church, but rather among the laity for the sake of ordering the Church's words and deeds after the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I will be posting on the doctrine of revelation and the doctrine of election in the coming weeks, which will primarily be targeted for the common reader. The topics alone are daunting, not to mention trying to relate such crucial and often high-brow doctrines to the laity. But I am thrilled at the opportunity to connect these doctrines to the very heart of everyday life. What could be more beneficial? Go here to learn more.

4. I was accepted into the MTh program at the University of Aberdeen! I am still waiting to hear from Princeton Theological Seminary (I applied for the M.Div program). I am starting the application process for a few scholarships, but at this point, I am at an impasse. I feel the weight of my decision more and more everyday. Both institutions would offer exceptional resources to study the theology of Karl Barth. Princeton is close to my parent's home, so I would be able to live at home and spend those days with my beloved Grams before she eventually transitions into supervised living. But in terms of Aberdeen ... well, let's face it, we are talking about Scotland! There are positives and negatives to both decisions, and I have a lot more thinking to do. Regardless, I am thrilled for these opportunities (if PTS accepts me, obviously!).

5. I graduate in May with a Masters in Theology from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. I am really excited about finally crossing the finish line after three wonderful, difficult, taxing, joyful years here at GCTS. I remember doubting whether or not I should attend GCTS, and now I can't imagine who I would be if I didn't choose to take the leap of faith. Before I came to seminary, I knew I felt "called" (whatever that means) to seminary, but I had my doubts (read: debt). But it was through my time at Gordon-Conwell, the life-shaping classes I've taken at Harvard Divinity, and the exposure to Karl Barth's theology that I realized I have a desire to pursue a place in academia. More than that, I can't believe how much the Lord has taught me through the past three years, especially about relationships. To say I've been broken on more than one occasion would not be an exaggeration. The Lord has graciously revealed so much to me about my own shortcomings and has given me grace through friendships and mentors who have reminded me that this is what the life of the Christian is all about. Despite everything, I can't say enough good things about GCTS and my time in seminary.

6. This is perhaps the most difficult thing to write, but I'm learning that part of the process in my formation is honesty. I have been a stutterer since I was 5 years old. I grew out of it eventually before the age of 10 (I believe). But around my junior year of college it had returned. I remember giving a speech in my Christian Political Thought class and I had tremendous difficulty forming sentences. I'm sure that everyone listening just chalked it up to nervousness since believe it or not the same impediment hadn't made its way into my daily speech at that point. Since attending seminary, I've noticed more and more that I've been struggling with my speech. Before this year only my parents ever knew that I had a stuttering problem since I was little outside the few individuals that witnessed it during my childhood. Most people, including my parents, assumed that I had outgrown the problem. So I silently battled with the problem finding more and more ways to conceal my struggle. Then I was asked to present my paper on Karl Barth's doctrine of election at the Gordon-Conwell Theology Forum. I remember reading the paper a dozen times aloud on my own (which is quite the task mind you, given the fact that it is 32 pages!) and hoping that with enough prayer I'd be fine. The moment came to read my paper in front of all my peers and professors. I had a tremendous amount of pauses before words and even skipped over certain words I knew would take me a considerable amount of time to say. When you are a stutterer, you learn to "word replace" so that you don't have to say a particular word that you know before you say it will be a problem. You become a walking thesaurus. But when you read a paper in front of people, you can't word replace any longer; you are exposed. Within a matter of two minutes, everyone in the room found out about my disability that I tried for so long to conceal. Most were shocked, and mercifully, my wonderful professor offered to continue reading for me. Needless to say, this was a very painful experience for me. I began to question why I even came this far, attended seminary, and considered higher academia. How can a stutterer teach seminars, let alone read papers in front of hundreds of people? I will spare you the details of the sadness and brokenness that came that evening. But the gracious Lord eventually makes all things for the good of those who love Him. I realized that night that it took something like the theology forum to humble me enough to make me realize that I need help. I ended up e-mailing a speech therapist and I will be going through a three week intensive speech fluency program this summer. Now I know most people that know me and have read this post are probably thinking, "what in the world?! I've seen The King's Speech and Kait does not sound anything like that, in fact, I never even knew she stutters!" But there are three types of stuttering: 1) The classic repetition (wo...wo...wo...word), 2) Prolongation (wwwwwwwword), 3) Blocking which are pauses (.....word). I suffer from the third problem with a bit of the second. After talking with the speech therapist during our initial consultation, she informed me that with most stuttering, the lines between the reality of the actual impediment and the mental barriers are very fuzzy. While I do have a speech impediment, there is also an incredible mental component. Therefore, the fluency program this summer will be holistic and address both the physical and mental aspects of speech. I am rather apprehensive to enter this program; I can not tell you how humbling it has been to finally admit to this problem. But my speech therapist assured me that not only is my particular case mild, but it is very manageable. While I will always struggle, it doesn't have to control me. And yes, I saw The King's Speech, and yes, it changed my life. I never knew that a film would be made that could capture the emotional and personal trials that I have suffered in private. Colin Firth moved me more than I can verbalize. So cheers to the Academy for recognizing such a spectacular film!

So there you have it, my exciting and rather eventful life as of recently! Thanks for reading such a long post. And pray for me if you think of it, because there is so much happening in the coming months; I need the grace and mercy of God more than ever.


jblooper said...

You've likely talked to Dr. Lints about this...I would imagine he'd have some interesting things to say. Thanks for sharing. I needed something real this morning.

Brian LePort said...


I came across this blog for the first time today. Excellent content and it seems like you have exciting options in front of you. Would you ever consider participating in a team blog? Where I write at Near Emmaus we could use someone who covers some of the subjects you cover here. If you think this would be something that may interest you (and that would take the pressure off of maintaining an individual blog or something you may do alongside your individual blog) send me an email at brianleport@gmail.com. Feel free to visit our blog as well.

Justin said...

Come to Aberdeen! We need you out here Kait - come drink whisky with us!

And as far as stuttering goes, we actually have a prof here who has the same problem - and he's one of the best lecturers/scholars in the department. I'd seriously trade all the smooth speech in the world to be as awesome as this guy.

Brian LePort said...

I just noticed that I called you by the first part of your blog and not your first name....sorry, Kait!

Kait Dugan said...

Brian - Thanks for the invitation, I am quite honored. Might I be able to take a raincheck on this until after I graduate in May? I will have much more free time by then. Let me know!

Justin - Drinking whiskey with a bunch of theology students in a Scotland sounds pretty surreal! Very typical question but any advice on funding?

Also, thanks for the words about the professor you mentioned. I can't tell you how much I needed to hear that.

Brian LePort said...

@Kait: Of course, contact me when you've crossed the finish line!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your journey toward Anglicanism. I found some good resources that may interest you at the "Parish Church of the Mountains" in Georgia: http://www.stlukesblueridge.org/Tract.pdf (see also "Links" section).

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