Reflections from Seminary Students

Worship Wednesday – Worship and Imagination

November 30th, 2011 § 0 Comments

Everest from Bhutan

photo by flickr user juank_madrigal

“It is imagination which allows us to escape from the constraints of immediate reality and to regard it with a critical eye, that is, to transcend the actual and project ourselves into the possible.” – Richard Kearney, Poetics of Imagining

In our Foundations of Youth and Family Ministry course, we’ve been reading Kenda Creasy Dean’s book, Almost Christian, and I can’t stop thinking about the term “missional imagination.” Of course, Dean is writing about adolescents in the book, but it seems to me that there’s a lot here for all of us when she describes what happens when adolescents begin to exercise missional imagination: ”teenagers begin to view the world as a place where God acts, and to see themselves as participants in God’s action.”

Often, what we imagine is very real. » Read the rest of this entry «

Does academic theology matter?

November 28th, 2011 § 1 Comment

*Note: This was originally posted on Dr. Leong’s personal blog at davidleong.info. Watch for more guest posts from SPS Faculty and students, soon!

Henry Suzzallo, after whom the famous UW library is named, said that universities should be “cathedrals of learning.” Anyone who has visited the graduate reading room (I studied–and napped–there on occasion as an undergrad) should note the silent sanctity of knowledge in that place. The cathedral-college metaphor also evokes the distinctly theological origins of most institutions of higher education in the U.S., from the Ivy League on down.

Suzzallo Library

But the more I become solidly entrenched in the institution of academia, particularly theological academia, as a Christian and aspiring scholar, the more I sense a deep-seated skepticism growing within me about the endeavors of the Christian academy. I returned from AAR about a week ago, and while I am still processing some of the stimulating conversations and ideas that were presented there, I am also struck (perpetually, it seems) with the glaring discontinuity between the academy and the “real world.” » Read the rest of this entry «

A Monday Evening Advent Reading: The Life-Light

November 28th, 2011 § 1 Comment

Advent is upon us!  Like Lent and Holy Week, advent is a special time in the church calendar where different themes, practices and scriptures are highlighted. We at the SPS blog want to feature the Advent season and emphasize what we find most meaningful in the weeks approaching and anticipating Christmas.

When I was a kid there were at least two days that I would attend church with my grandparents; both were in Advent.  My sister and I usually got to light a candle for one of the Sundays of Advent.  In the Presbyterian tradition Advent is celebrated by candle lighting: three purple candles signifying hope, peace and joy, one pink candle symbolic of love and in the center one white candle which is lit on Christmas eve to signify the coming of Christ.  Christmas eve was the other service that I always attended where everyone would get to hold a candle lit from the Christ candle.

» Read the rest of this entry «

Theologian Thursday – Lesslie Newbigin

November 24th, 2011 § 0 Comments

A word from the father of missional theology, Lesslie Newbigin:

The Spirit is the source of hope – not just hope for ourselves, but hope for the completion of God’s whole cosmic work. ‘In this hope we are saved’ (Romans 8:24). It is because of this work that we are liable to be invited ‘to account for the hope that is in [us]’ (I Pet. 3:15) and so to become involved in the missionary dialogue. Seen from this point of view, mission might be defined as ‘hope in action.’ – The Open Secret, p.63 » Read the rest of this entry «

Thoughts from the Cemetery

November 22nd, 2011 § 0 Comments

I wrote a column for University Presbyterian Church about seminary. It is basically a swan song to the SPS and its people. It was originally posted here: http://www.upctimes.org/thought-from-the-cemetery. Enjoy!

Erin (far left—yes, the guy with the glasses) with four friends who help keep his faith alive.

The summer before I started seminary, there were many well-meaning and lovely people who asked me, jokingly, if I was ready to start “cemetery.” I would always laugh politely and tell them, jokingly, “Well, yes, of course!” This half-funny reaction was the only response I had for such an unusual question.

I suppose I knew where they were coming from. I had heard that many people have taken the road to seminary only to lose their faith in academic Christianity. They come out on the other side of a theology degree with a head full of knowledge, but an empty heart for ministry and the church. Apparently, they enter the crypt somewhere in between “Church History 101” and “Karl Barth’s Dogmatics in Full.” » Read the rest of this entry «

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