I’ve been hearing a lot of talk in the past weeks about the future of seminary education, which has been prompted by scandals at a handful of fairly prominent East Coast seminaries. Information for some of these scandals has been kind of hard to come by and rather gossipy–twitter reports about who did and did not attend Andover Newton’s presidential inauguration, for example–but some new information and resolution has emerged about the situation at General Theological Seminary in NYC.
If you haven’t been following, the majority of their faculty made a statement that they are unwilling to work with the new President and Dean, and the board of the seminary responded by accepting their resignations.
Continue reading “Historic Gift Given to General Theological Seminary”
Intersections: Theology and the Church in a World Come of Age
Published by Noesis Press (Davies Group, Publishers)
Theological discourse typically teeters between obscure, abstract thinking suitable only for academics and direct “how-to” writing: how to preach, how to evangelize, how to educate children and adults into the faith, how to lead for financial stability, how to teach happy relationships. Obviously, neither the abstract nor the practical are unnecessary or unfruitful; however, creative, constructive theological voices fruitfully inhabiting the in-between spaces of the abstract and instructional, who engage and converse with the practical aspects of church life have become rare. Furthermore, theological writing which inhabits this liminal space is sorely needed in our secularized and secularizing world, vital to those seeking a “metapoietic” condition in a post-Christendom world—one that takes seriously the Gospel, the church, and the world “come of age” in science, technology, literature, and the arts.
The titles in the forthcoming Intersections series are envisioned to be short monographs or edited collections which offer fresh and bold perspectives on theology, practical theology, church practice, and religious issues beyond organized religion, by individuals with clear commitments to and entrenchments in the academy and religious assembly. Of particular interest to the series are short monographs which introduce important figures in academic theology or philosophy to a pastoral or seminarian audience with clear application for religious life, or collaborative works between clergy and academics. Intersections series titles will be written for scholarly clergy and seminarians, for those who take academic theology and religious life seriously, who welcome and are searching for theological thinking and writing that refuses to rehash old mistakes, blindly retreat into doctrine, or insult its audience. Continue reading “Call for manuscripts and new book series announcement: INTERSECTIONS: Theology and the Church in a World Come of Age”
Here is the draft of a sermon I am working on for this Sunday for St. Paul’s UCC, Dallastown, PA. The Lections are Psalm 8 and Exodus 20:1-20. The sermon will begin a new nine-month focus on peace in my congregation’s worship life.
I have been so heartbroken over the past few weeks over the news of shooting after shooting. People shot with guns. Death after death. Devastated families. Communities brazen with fear and anger. Reports of funeral after funeral. Embalming fluid and blood. The media selectively reports the details, partially in fear of copycat crimes, partially in fear of being accused of exploiting the facts out of some liberal agenda. I have friends and family who are responsible gun owners, and know a few people who even work in the firearms industry. I also know folks whose lives have been destroyed by gun violence. I have ministered to men in prison whose mistakes and aggressions, usually with a firearm, led them to the situations they now find themselves. I have known too many people who have taken their own lives with a firearm. My own great uncle, John Rodkey, was a nationally known marksman during his life and ran a small gun shop in his retirement. For a short time in Chicago I became friendly with a police officer who introduced me into target shooting, even while I lived in a neighborhood where I would wake up to gun shots fired in the night.
I’m not here to give you my own history with guns but I preface my sermon with these details to say that I’m trying to work out the question of our spiritual sickness of gun violence for myself—and for me it’s not out of some political agenda. I know and have experienced the faces and the stories, the real people, on every side of this issue.
Which is also why I am so sickened by our inability to even talk about the issues surrounding gun violence in our country. One cannot so much as pray a public lament about this problem that we have in our culture without it being politicized. Rational and level-headed discussion are strictly forbidden. We know the lines, and many of them are patently or at least partially false. That access to more guns makes us safer as a nation. That changing laws will change the culture. That mental illness is the root cause of gun violence. That banning guns will make us less violent. That guns don’t kill people. That stricter gun control is an act of aggression by an already oppressive government who wants to enslave us with their guns. That study after study performed by the medical profession, and academics and clergy are part of some big agenda. That a desire to restrict gun access is a slippery slope that will soon lead to the banning of baseball bats, forks, and knives. The debate gets personal, and creates a cultural division between those who are gun owners and those who are not, with the assumption one side wants to take something away from the other.
The debate tinges with sexism, elitism, classism, and racism. Continue reading “Sermon: “The Second Amendment vs. The Second Commandment””
the eucharist in question
The 2014 Dallastown UCC Theological Summit
May 16, York County, PA
CALL FOR PROPOSALS
Description / Rationale: In American Protestant churches, the practice of the sacrament of communion can vary intensively from crypto-Catholic and Anglo-Catholic repetition to a complete rejection of the sacrament and sacramentalism as a whole. In the United Church of Christ, the Eucharist may be celebrated often, weekly, or very rarely, despite strong Eucharistic theologies in the Reformed, Congregational, heritages of the denomination. Within the UCC, however, there exists living expressions of the Reformed and Congregational theologies, as well as a myriad of feminist, liberation, African American, Mercersburg, process, personalist, liberal, queer, “ECOT,” postmodern, contemporary radical, and others. Yet it is not really clear how this multiplicity of voices and interpretive modes engage the most public and repeated of all rituals, the Eucharist, beyond congregational banalities usually related to liturgical movement, or lack thereof: “do we do ‘pew’ communion or ‘Catholic’ communion?” Continue reading “Call for papers: Living Theology: The Eucharist in Question”