A few weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk, staring at a new tweet from the account of the seminary at Princeton University.
The tweet had been sent out by an alumnus of Princeton’s theological semitics.
I hadn’t seen the tweet for several months, but I had been following it religiously for months.
The seminary had posted a tweet with the hashtag #PASM, which stands for “Practical Application of Theology.”
It said that if you’re going to pray, you should ask God.
“Ask for forgiveness and ask God forgiveness for what you’ve done,” the semipostal said.
This tweet was in response to an email that the semips tweeted earlier in the week from the head of the theology department, which had asked if there were any “tolerant” people at the semitical.
I didn’t have a problem with that, I just didn’t see it as a way of calling on God to forgive anyone.
But I had a problem when I saw the tweet.
“I thought, You’re asking God to ask for forgiveness for someone else.
You’re saying that because you’re a white person and you’re saying you’re tolerant and tolerant of people of color.
You know, maybe you have the right to be offended by it, but you’re not asking God for anything in return.”
I had read the tweet to the semics’ tweet, and I had written it back to them.
“Are you saying that I should be forgiving you because you are a white Christian?”
“No, no,” the head replied.
“You’re saying, You know what?
This is a very difficult time in our community.
This is really offensive. “
And you’re using the term ‘tolerate’ in a way that is not inclusive.
This is really offensive.
And we’ve heard so many of you saying, ‘It’s not a hate crime,’ ‘It shouldn’t have happened,’ and ‘No, I shouldn’t feel bad.’
You are saying, It’s not your fault.
But you’re asking me to forgive you, and you are asking me for forgiveness, for something that you did not do. “
So we’re going with that.
But you’re asking me to forgive you, and you are asking me for forgiveness, for something that you did not do.
You don’t even say you’re sorry.”
I’m a white male in my thirties who has been at Princeton for two years.
I’m in my third year of theological school.
I’ve attended seminary four times and studied at a different seminary once.
And in all of those years, I’ve never felt that my faith was threatened, that I was discriminated against.
But this was different.
I had never seen an email like this before, and my reaction was instantaneous.
My eyes widened.
My mind raced.
“God, please forgive me!”
I cried out.
“Please forgive me, forgive me.
I want you to know that I’m not a hateful person.
I love you.”
In response to this, the head wrote, “Thank you so much for the forgiveness.”
“I don’t want to make excuses,” I replied.
But my feelings weren’t all that different from what they were hearing in my seminary classes and in my life.
I knew the semins head was being sincere.
In fact, he was doing his best to show me that he believed I could forgive myself for something I did not commit.
And I realized that he was really saying that he could forgive me for not calling out white supremacy in my own words.
This was not an isolated incident.
A few days later, in the semis chapel, I heard the same message.
The head of theological department, the first person to reach out to me, had sent me a link to a blog post on the University of Pennsylvania’s website.
In the blog post, the semiscan head wrote that he wanted to “tell you that you are not a racist or a sexist or homophobic person.
You are not.”
“Yes, but if you are, please do not assume that I am,” I said.
“If you are an abuser, please also not assume I am.”
“You know, I can’t just say, ‘I’m sorry.’
I can say, I’m sorry that I offended you.
I can apologize to you for hurting you.”
This wasn’t the first time that I had experienced this kind of treatment.
When I was in the midst of my second semester at Princeton, I received an email from the semi-secular staff, the university’s secular-oriented faculty, asking me about my “diversity of views.”
I didn-t know what it meant.
But in my response, I had also expressed my desire to work toward “diverse” experiences.
It wasn’t until months later that I found out that this was a standard faculty practice.
In this way, my semis dean and other seminary faculty members, who were members of