This is one in a series of profiles of 2019 graduates of ETS. Commencement ceremonies for the 2019 ETS graduating class is at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 1 in the sanctuary.
Morgan Meis is an adjunct faculty member at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. He is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, writing about art and culture. He founded an arts collective in New York City called Flux Factory, and was editor of the Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal at The New School for Social Research. He has a PhD from The New School in Philosophy.
ETS: What degree will you be receiving?
Meis: A diploma in Urban Ministry
ETS: You already have a Philosophy PhD. What’s the value to you with an undergraduate level degree?
Meis: Well, there is a thing called humility, which I figure must be, at least in part, the willingness to admit how much we don’t know, how much we always still have to learn from one another. My heart and mind were opened many times just by hearing and receiving the wisdom and life experience of my fellow students and teachers in the UMD program. I can say that I shed tears more than once in a couple of my different classes, just from the power of what people were sharing and discussing. I value my philosophy PhD, but let’s just say that never happened in any of my secular grad courses.
ETS: What do you do now for work?
Meis: I am a freelance writer and teach contemporary art history and philosophy of art at the College for Creative Studies.
ETS: What are your goals/plans after graduation?
Meis: The Urban Ministry degree is meant to be part of the process to becoming a deacon at Saint Anthony’s church on Detroit’s east side.
ETS: Why did you choose ETS?
Meis: I was looking for a place that is ecumenical, that is situated and informed by the rich history of the city of Detroit and which has real contact with the real life of this city.
ETS: How did you hear about ETS?
Meis: If you live in Detroit, and you are even vaguely interested in the Gospel, serving God and social justice, then you have heard about ETS.
ETS: What was the best part of your experience at ETS?
Meis: The teachers in the UMD program were wonderful. We absorbed a tremendous amount of serious scholarship, but always in a context that was relevant to actual boots-on-the-ground ministry.
ETS: And the worst?
Meis: I forgot how much reading you have to do in school.
ETS: What would you tell anyone who asks, “Why go to seminary?”
Meis: Do you think it is important to try to live according to the Gospel and perhaps to carry that message to others? And you’re sure you have a deep understanding of what the Gospel really says and the history and context from which it comes? Oh you do? Are you just saying that, or have you really done the work? Maybe it’s time to go to seminary, my friend.