How to succeed in seminary without really trying

Print More
Maryknoll Seminary in Ossining, NY, in April 2016. Photo courtesy of Ron Cogswell via Flickr Commons

Maryknoll Seminary in Ossining, NY, in April 2016. Photo courtesy of Ron Cogswell via Flickr Commons

(RNS) Studying religion can make for a fraught few years. The normal anxieties of higher education are coupled with the existential doubts of spirituality. The question of “How do I pass this test?” can quickly become, “Will I suffer eternal conscious torment if I fail this midterm?” But don’t worry too much. Just follow these twenty tips instead and you’ll be on your frictionless path to mastering divinity:

  • Prayer is a highly effective form of studying.
  • A class discussion about God is the same thing as group therapy, so there’s no need to find a new therapist.
  • There is a SparkNotes version of your holy scripture. Use it.
  • Go to seminary to find God. He’s hiding right beneath your textbook.
  • Don’t worry if you miss a history class or two. Religious history tends to repeat itself.
  • Everything you believe right now is the one divine truth.
  • Nothing means anything unless there’s proof. Which there likely isn’t because we’re talking about religion.
  • Don’t listen to anyone who doesn’t share your own faith tradition. Don’t even sit with them at lunch for safe measure.
  • If your professor says something that you doubt, Google will provide you many resources to reassure your brainwashed-at-childhood belief system.
  • Everyone is experimenting with being a “none” right now. Give it a shot.
  • Relax. Seminary is a great time to think about what you want to do with your life before you go to law school.
  • You’re going to lose your faith if you stay in school. It’s one or the other. Pick wisely.
  • The best theology is found in the Religion News Service comments section.
  • A consistent, contradiction-free systematic theology is totally possible.
  • Don’t let “them” steal your faith!
  • Remind your non-seminarian friends they shouldn’t swear around you now.
  • Defending your faith with reason is a losing endeavor.
  • Avoid saying you’re in seminary on Tinder. Try “in graduate school” instead.
  • The end is coming. Look busy.
  • Seriously though, don’t take everything so seriously.

Have more tips you want to share? Email them to