Terminal. The word most often conjures images of long-term illnesses and occasional horrific deaths. From the time I “sensed” where God was leading me vocationally, I set out to “learn” all I could. The ultimate goal lie in a “terminal” degree – the conferring of a “Doctorate.” Fancy titles may now be applied – Dr. Todd Littleton. While proud of my accomplishment, there is the necessity to unpack and unlearn the “norms” associated with what it means to have “earned” a doctoral degree.
I do hope one day someone strips the word terminal from its relationship with said degree. A terminal degree signals for many the end of learning.
We don’t confer terminal degrees in church life but we do treat ourselves to terminal learning. That is, we come to the place where we cannot learn anymore. When that occurs, personal and corporate spiritual life takes on the terminal traits of a disease.
In “Reimagining Spiritual Formation”, Doug Pagitt points up the value of “community” learning. A space where people learn from each other. A place where the community provides the collective against heresy. An occasion where “iron sharpens iron.” This may well be the anedote for the terminal.