On Being a Mormon at Yale Divinity School

However, my experience is not singular by any means. Students of all faith traditions grapple with matters of faith to differing degrees, and I add that the experience of divinity school probably would not be that valuable minus the difficulty and rigor. For a while I felt as though my reading of scripture had been ruined. I was used to reading almost entirely for inspiration and edification and not for themes and content and theological streams. I waded through the text as a person might wade through a swamp, becoming increasingly frustrated and tired with analyzing the swamp and discovering it was not what I had previously thought at all. But, with a little distance, I feel as though my training in scriptural exegesis has enhanced my reading irrevocably, for which I am extremely grateful.

My motivation to attend YDS was primarily academic, although with deep spiritual roots. I have always been interested in comparative religious study with an eye of faith. The program description seemed to match my perceived academic interests (interdisciplinary study within the arts and religion). But the decision to go there was one of faith. I considered other schools but felt that YDS was the place for me. It has not been what I expected at all. I did not anticipate the intense spiritual rigor. I was okay where I was. That said, I have changed. I have become more dedicated to Mormonism -- to teaching it in a way that is not only spiritually edifying but also intellectually challenging. I have become more tolerant of not-knowing. I learned the importance of the atonement, the value of Christ suffering for and with me. 

My increased knowledge has increased my faith (even though it has complicated faith in numerous ways). I now understand the interconnected nature of both much more than I did before. Faith without knowledge is dead and vice versa. We often learn through the Spirit, but the Spirit often speaks to our reason. It is difficult not to quash spiritual knowledge (not all knowledge is spiritual) but sometimes we must balance spiritual and "secular" knowledge. Divinity school has taught me the intricacies of living a faithful life.


Elizabeth Pinborough is a graduate student in the Yale Divinity school.


10/1/2009 4:00:00 AM