According to this article in The Christian Century, enrollment at theological seminaries is on the rise.
A lot of it has to do with the economy, but others are attending seminary because they want a post-undergraduate intellectual experience that allows them to reflect on the meaning of life within a spiritual or religious framework. Frankly, I think more people should to go seminary. Imagine if corporations required their top-level executives to take a year studying ethics and moral theology?
Growing up Catholic, theological seminaries were always talked about using the article “the.” For example, “Did you hear about the Benucci’s oldest son, he is going to ‘THE seminary’ to become a priest?”
But there are many who attend seminary or divinity school with no intention of becoming a member of the clergy. When I enrolled in a divinity school back in 1989 I thought about the possibility of becoming a minister, but what I really wanted was an opportunity to learn theology and church history so that I could think more deeply about the world from the perspective of my faith. I ended up staying for awhile–earning an M.A. in church history and an M.Div. When people learn that I went to seminary they immediately want to know if I am “ordained.” I am not. But I do not regret the experience and I use my divinity education every day. I have even been asked, on a few rare occasions, to preach Sunday morning sermons!
Here’s a snippet from Christian Century piece:
When Boston area artist Paula Rendino needed fresh inspiration more than a year ago, she sought her muse in an unlikely place: seminary. Art school would have been “too boring,” Rendino explained. She yearned to bring fresh depth to her work by pondering spiritual themes.
Now she does exactly that alongside dozens of ministers-in-training at Andover Newton Theological School, an ecumenical, American Baptist seminary in Newton Centre, Massachusetts.
“In seminary, you’re looking at philosophy, ethics or poetry and taking the time to really think about something,” Rendino said. “That’s so important because we live in a time where everything is fast, people write in short sentences” and “don’t take the time to think about things.”