When I started my teaching career, I had many ideas about how I would make theological topics relevant and memorable in the lives of my students. Unfortunately, some of those ideas, if implemented, would have probably been remembered by my students as the silliest experiences of their lives, either making me a legend or spelling the end of my teaching career. I knew I had a slight tendency to be silly, but I justified it by throwing caution to the wind and telling myself, “Even if my lessons are silly and stupid, at least the students will remember them.” Thank goodness I had an older, wiser mentor/colleague who bluntly told me to drop most of my ideas. Fortunately, I mostly heeded his advice.
Early on, I was assigned to teach on the Trinity, a daunting task. I remember watching Slumdog Millionaire around this time, thinking I could use some dancing as a way to teach the perichoresis (“to dance around”) of the Trinity. I had a dance all choreographed in my head: I would have my class go outside and do a circle dance holding hands, moving in and out, ending with a dance sequence like the Jai Ho Indian dance featured during the movie’s final credits. Great idea, right?
The morning of the lesson, I threw the perichoresis Jai Ho dance idea before my colleague, perhaps sensing that my lesson might utterly fail. I’ll always remember his brief response.