Monday, April 12, 2010

youTheology Provides an Anchor

I attended youTheology in 2003-2004, the first year of the program. The program was a great way for me to connect with other Methodists in the Midwest and delve into a deeper understanding my own faith. While focusing on the Methodist faith, youTheology also branched out to touch on other religions as well (we visited a Mosque, had a talk on comparing the depiction of the Garden of Eden in the Pentateuch and the Qur'an and visited Stonehenge), which later helped reinforce my desire to pursue a degree in religious studies. The pilgrimage to England was also a deeply spiritual journey that touched upon the deeper spirituality of Methodism and other faiths. It was a true blessing to experience this with other like-minded individuals. youTheology allowed me to view my own faith tradition, Methodism, within its historical context and in relation to other faiths. This has been an invaluable anchor of reference for studying and understanding religion and spirituality in a broader context. It has also helped me to grow deeper in my faith.

Currently, I am in my second year at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, so studying and classes fill most of my daylight (and nighttime) hours. Hopefully, when all of this is done, I will be an Emergency Medicine Physician. I also did my undergrad here at Mizzou, completing a bachelor's degree in Biology, Philosophy, Religious Studies & Psychology. Through undergrad and medical school, I have also had the opportunity to do quite a bit of research within the field of religious studies. In undergrad, I researched Valentinian Gnosticism my freshman year and Logos language in Philosophy, the Gospel of John & Valentinus my senior year. I just finished co-writing a chapter for a book on doctor-patient communication about religion and taking a "spiritual history." At some point, I plan to attend seminary and pick up my M.Div. I would love to become a hospital chaplain once I retire from medicine or while I am still practicing medicine.

I am married to Stephanie Beisel, an alumna of youTheology. We are the proud parents of two mutts (lab & gold retriever mixes), Maeby and George-Michael. I am personally an avid reader (when I have the time). Some of my favorite authors include Kurt Vonnegut, Jose Saramago, Hermann Hesse, Soren Kierkegaard, Thich Nhat Hahn, and many others. I also love reading about religion from an academic perspective and for spiritual enrichment. For those that haven't read Martin Buber's "I & Thou," it comes highly recommended as an existentialist theological exploration. I am also a music nut, but I will spare you those details. As for my personal involvement in the church, I am not currently involved in a local church here in Columbia. I simply do not have time for the social aspects of being involved with a church at this time, for that is one of the main functions of a physical church: to bring people together in Christ. Thus, my religious growth and experience is currently part of the "church" in the more ecumenical and catholic (universal) sense, outside of any particular church body. My interaction with other students and patients brings me closer to God every day and deepens my faith. In this respect, I am deeply blessed to be able to see and experience God in all I do.

by Adam Thomas
youTheology Alumnus
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

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