Robert P. Scharlemann (1929-2013)

I just learned from the announcement in the new Bulletin of the North American Paul Tillich Society that Robert Scharlemann passed away on July 10.  Scharlemann is perhaps best known for his phenomenal, standout monograph, Reflection and Doubt in the Thought of Paul Tillich and as a key former editor of the JAAR.  I had the opportunity to have a few conversations with him at the AAR over the years, including lunch with him after he heard one of my papers. Continue reading “Robert P. Scharlemann (1929-2013)”

Proposal deadline extended: “Reclaiming the Pastor as Theologian”

Partially because of the United Church of Christ’s General Synod gearing up, we’re extending the deadline to submit proposals to JULY 20 for the UCC theological summit, with special guest facilitator Jeffrey Robbins.  Here’s the updated CFP:


reclaiming the pastor as theologian

the theological summit of the UCC 2030 Clergy Network

September 13, 2013, York County, PA


Description / Rationale:  Theologian Thomas Altizer asks the progressive church, “Is a Jonathan Edwards possible in the church today?” This question is especially stunning, provocative, and condemning for mainline churches, especially the United Church of Christ, who claims Edwards as one of our own.  In the UCC, we may ask:  Where are our theological voices today?  Who validates or invalidates them?  Who promotes them?  Who is their audience?  Do they reflect the “ground” of the church? Continue reading “Proposal deadline extended: “Reclaiming the Pastor as Theologian””

RIP: Otto Maduro (1945-2013)

Word has been moving around the interwebs this morning about the passing of Otto Maduro, and Drew University’s Facebook page just announced his death.  Although I did not have him as a professor at Drew University, I did meet him and sat in some of his lectures and he worked with me as a mentor when I was selected as the speaker at my commencement. I particularly have a deep resepct for the way he connected his scholarly work to the world of lived faith.  He was very active in the AAR and his work with hispanic seminarians and pastors has , and will continue to have, a major impact on their church communities. Continue reading “RIP: Otto Maduro (1945-2013)”

What’s your favorite logic textbook?

I have always wanted to challenge myself to teach logic or symbolic logic.  Every opportunity I have had to teach logic never really came to be, lack of enrollment, registrar forgetting to put the course on the schedule, but I am now in a situation that I might be teaching it in the coming year where I will likely have enrollment and the course will actually happen.  I know this will take some disciplined preparation on my part, and I am up for the task, but I am struggling at this point to arrive at a compelling text.

Do any of you have experience teaching logic, and what text or texts do you use?

RIP, Gabriel Vahanian (1927-2012)

I just heard from Jeff Robbins (via Facebook) that Gabriel Vahanian has passed away.

Gabriel Vahanian is best known for being one of the radial theologians of the 1960s and for his long tenure at Syracuse University.  His work after the early 1970s is not as well known in the US as it is in France, but he continued to write and publish. It’s my position that he is largely uncredited for his work in developing the field of religion and literature.  His most recent book published in the USA is 2008’s Praise for the Secular.

I have always appreciated his serious work on Tillich, much of which was collected in the book Tillich and the New Religious Paradigm.

I had the chance to meet with him a few times, and he even gave me some criticism of my written work and wrote an interesting critique of a worship service that he attended.  Continue reading “RIP, Gabriel Vahanian (1927-2012)”

Sermon: “That Dagonne Dagon! (The Sins of Paterni)”

The following is a sermon I’ve been kicking around for a while, and will soon deliver.  I’ve been thinking about how to preach the collapse of the idol of Dagon in a way that is not triumphalistic but as an idol of desire.  I’m not sure this is the  most theologically uniform sermon I’ve ever developed and it’s definately still a work in progress.  The tearing down of the Paterno statue in State College, PA, and the community’s reaction immediatley called me to connect this Bible Story to current events.

The Sandusky / Penn State Sex Abuse Scandal is tragic and unfortunate, and disturbing.  It has also been interesting for me, as someone native to central Pennsylvania, to see how the unraveling of facts from the Sandusky case and the cover-up have de-centered central Pennsylvania culture.  I also write this as someone who has a formal connection to Penn State, too, as an adjunct professor, and as a teacher I have a deep resepct for the academic culture and mission of Penn State.  (I found this article, from The Chronicle of Higher Education, be be a particularly interesting take on how all of these events may or may not impact the academics of Penn State.)  As a pastor in a rural part of Pennsylvania whose church’s context is directly connected with agribusiness and farm culture, I am also a fan of the positive impact of Penn State’s agricultural extension programs.

The preaching lection will be long 1 Samuel 4:2-11 and 5:1-12.  Continue reading “Sermon: “That Dagonne Dagon! (The Sins of Paterni)””

Presentation and Book Signing at Susquehanna University this weekend

If any of you are in north-central PA, I’ll be doing a book signing and a presentation on The Synaptic Gospel at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA, this Saturday afternoon, as part of Penn Central UCC’s annual conference there.

My talk will be very similar to the one I gave at the Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity conference last month.  Here’s the link to the Prezi presentation that I am using for The Synaptic Gospel.

New Article in the Journal of the Masonic Society

When I arrived home from the Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity conference I found the new issue of The Journal of the Masonic Society in my mailbox, which has an article that I wrote which begins a larger conversation that I intend to continue about ritual violence and Masonic ritual from a Girardian perspective.  Before I saw the article in print, I know that a robust conversation had already begun about the article on some Masonic chatrooms and local groups, based on the number of emails sent to me within hours of the journal’s mail delivery.  Needless to say, the article touches some sensitive issues.

The cover depicts a sculpture of Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum, the three ruffians who murder the architect of Solomon’s temple in the Masonic Hiramic Legend.  Continue reading “New Article in the Journal of the Masonic Society”