Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book 6 of 2011 -- The Great Emergence

This book has, directly and indirectly, been referred to in a number of on-line discussions over the last few months and so when I saw it on the book table at Presbytery last month I decided it was worth a read.

IT was, okay.  THere were times when I found that Tickle was over-simplifying both the historical and present analysis.  With the result that the picture of what she was describing felt skewed (in favour of her thesis of course).

However I found her basic premise sound.  And it was an intriguing look at where the Church Universal may be heading.  Certainly worth a read.  But not, IMO, a "must read". 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

SHould I or Should't I?

Last month when I was back at college I took time to talk to one of the professors about further study.  As it happens they have a program which is currently classified as a STM (Master of Sacred Theology) but is being rejigged as a DMin (Doctor of Ministry).  Academically the requirements are the same but the reclassification recognizes that thsi program is intended to be taken while one is in active ministry and to feed on/into that ministry.

I have pondered going for further study at times.   But the standard STM as an academic degree wasn't really what I was loking at (like who really wants to write a thesis?).  I was thinking of something that woudl be a way to make more focussed use of my study leave time and would complement my daily ministry in a congregation.  Mind you I have always known that if I went in for the more Traditional STM I would choose to focus my studies on doctrines of humanity and atonement since that is an area of interest  (and because you simply cannot talk about what understandings of atonement are needed in the world today without talking about the nature of humanity and what is needed to help us re-learn that we are at-one with God).

In this other program I have lots of possible project ideas.  If I were starting now I would like to do something on being the church in a world of social media and multimedia projectors and internet research etc.  ANd that may be one that stays.  In fact I am really tempted to do a paper later this year on the theological implications of using technology to prepare and present worship, with a focus on multi-media projectors --just for the chance to explore the topic.

But do I have the time or the cash at this point in my life cycle?  I would not start for a couple years at any rate.  The program is 3 years and I would time it to be finishing in a year when I am eligible for a sabbatical thus giving me time to finish writing up the results of whatever major project I undertake.  But with 4 girls 10 and under?  ANd a program that would require 2-3 weeks away for intensive courses each year (at a few hundred a pop) plus reading and work in-between?

Still it sounds REALLY tempting

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Can't we All Just Get Along???

Last month when I was at a con-ed event at my alma mater the principal made an interesting observation.  Lorne is a former Provincial Premier and he commented that in his experience politicians were much more collegial than clergy, that outside of the debates they shared each others struggles (it is my hunch that this is becoming less true in Canada these last few years btw).  But Clergy seemed to feel that they were in competition with each other and were less apt to share struggles.  And that seems wrong somehow.

I was reminded of this comment this afternoon when I was listening to this interview when MArtha made a comment about clergy being too competitive.

And I am wondering....

Why?  Why are clergy comepetitive?  To be truthful, it is not my experience.  I have always found the clergy with whom I work to be collegial.  What is your experience?  ANd if clergy tend to be too competitive then how do you experience that?  and why do you think it is???

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A STudy Idea

LAst week whilst channel surfing I came across (on PBS) a 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Miserables.  It was over half over but as I watched it I was struck by a thought.

Watching the video and discussing the themes we find (which include justice and forgiveness and changing the world) would make an excellent study group opportunity.  And so I ordered the DVD.  Maybe May?  I am thinking three sessions to do the whole show.

ANd today I found this link that has the whole libretto so we could have the words in front of us too!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

An Old Column

The last keynote of the ConEd event I attended this week was The Bible, Eros, and Sexuality.  It reminded me of a sermon I gave in Lent a few years back (2004 or 2005) and this column that I wrote after preaching it:

Let’s Talk About SEX…
I hold the church partly responsible for the pornography industry. Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about sex a little bit.

For centuries people in the church have talked about sex as something that is sinful, or dirty, or a necessary evil (after all without sex there wouldn’t be new church members). To my eyes it appears that they have tried to de-sexualize humanity. I find many problems with this type of theology but the biggest problem I see is that it opened a door for a de-humanized sexuality. This is where the church holds some responsibility for the pornography industry.

To be as clear as possible, sex is not evil or sinful in and of itself. Certainly sexuality can be lived out in ways that break down relationships or is not life-affirming (and is therefore sinful) but that is true for any part of human activity. The first commandment God gives to humanity is “Be fruitful and multiply”. This is right after God looks at Creation and says, “it is good”. Therefore sex is also good.

There is an alternative. As people of faith we can teach our children a healthy view of sexuality. We can teach them to be appropriately modest but not ashamed of the fact that they are sexual beings. Sex education is a difficult topic. It is sometimes hard for children and parents to talk about sex openly. But we have to. Schools are really good at teaching the nuts and bolts of sex. Schools are less well equipped to teach about the values and decision-making side of sex.

A faith-based discussion about sex goes far beyond the “just say no” rhetoric we often hear connected to the church. Not that there is anything wrong with raising up abstinence as a value but if all we say is “don’t do it” we are often speaking into a vacuum. A faith-based sex discussion means talking about our self-image and how sexuality is a gift from God. It means talking seriously about relationships and commitment. It means talking from an early age about values and making choices. It means acknowledging the reality of sexual feelings and impulses. It means taking seriously the fact that we are created as sexual beings but that when we mis-use the gift of sexuality we can damage our relationships with ourselves and our friends and family. Such a discussion starts early in life and grows in complexity as our children develop.

We are sexual beings, that is a gift from God. We are called to live out our sexuality in ways that build strong relationships, in ways that affirm life. This means that we deal with sex differently at different times in our lives. It means that we have to think seriously about the ramifications of becoming sexually involved with someone. It means that sex is far more serious than a fun night in the sack. May God help us as we struggle to understand what it means to be sexual beings.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Book 5 of 2011 -- Christ of the Celts

I have long had a fascination with things Celtic.  ANd so last fall when I  was browsing online and saw this book it took little time to click "add to cart".

I found it a very enjoyable read.  Lots of good ideas.  Not that I necessarily agreed all the time.  But I found a lot in Newell's portrayal of Celtic faith that resonated more with my heart than traditional "orthodox" Christianity.

Not that this means all of Christianity will or needs to agree.  My vision of the future of the church is that we will finally embrace the reality that we are, and always have been, heterodox.  NOt one right answer but a variety of right answers in all areas of doctrine and faith.  A quick read, an easy read, but a worthwhile read.