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Student Story: Matt Boersma, Master of Arts

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Matt Boersma
Master of Arts

MattMy thesis began its journey while learning Hebrew at the University of Notre Dame, back when I was an employee in the Information Technology department. Among the many Hebrew texts read, it was the Song of Songs in particular that caught my attention. I knew that historically it had been interpreted as an allegorical text exploring God's love of Israel (or the church), but I had not encountered the deeply sensual nature of the images and the erotic tone of the text. Reading through the book, the unabashed sexuality of the words struck me as completely different than how the rest of the Bible treats sex. During the previous semester we had read selections of Ezekiel, where sex and female desire is cast as idolatrous and evil. In the Song, it is unashamed and extolled.

I knew I wanted to explore this further. The cognitive dissonance I was feeling between much of the negativity towards sex (especially women's experiences of sex) within the Bible and the Song needed explored. I turned to Bethany as place I could do this. Here at Bethany I have found a faculty willing to let me explore and expand boundaries. Even in my reading I have found an academic reticence to talking about sex and eroticism. Bethany has provided a safe place for these questions and a setting where I am more grounded in my faith than I felt in an academic research institution.

As I explore the Song of Songs, I hope that my work will provide a foundation that might allow us to approach sex fairly, honestly, and openly. Especially in this time of denominational searching, honest discussions about topics of eroticism, sex, intimacy, and love are vital to our understanding of one another. Scripture has traditionally been our guide through difficult discussions, so I am hoping my work in the Song of Songs might help break down views of the erotic that harm and encourage views that heal.

Katie Shaw Thompson
Master of Divinity

BethanyI have to admit I had no idea how much my cross-cultural trip to Marburg, Germany, would broaden my perspective. By immersing myself in German culture, I learned more about hospitality, theology, global politics, my neighbor, and myself than I thought possible in two weeks.

I was overwhelmed by the hospitality shown to us by the parish church and our host families. I will forever be grateful for those conversations across the table, across cultural differences, and across language barriers about the things that matter deeply to us all.