Monthly Archives: January 2012

Praying in Pictures

Last week I wrote about how faith crises can lead to identity crises – if my life is organized by my faith, a loss of faith tends to result in a loss of order to my world, a loss of understanding about who I am within that order. But there have also been moments in the midst of that crisis when I have experienced the surprise of grace, where I have experienced a fresh perspective on God that has come, it seems, as a pure gift from God. This week I want to share a story about that happened in the midst of teaching.

I teach theology – this is a vocation so deeply connected to my faith, that it’s difficult to picture it from a place of weak faith. How can I teach my students to preach the gospel when I’m not all that sure of the gospel myself? How can I teach my students about God’s love when I’m not all that sure God loves me… Continue reading

Accidentally Dying to Self

I shared last week about how writing a dissertation chapter about the forgetfulness of God started to feel like I was slowly killing God…not by crucifixion, as an orthodox view might have it, but by the slow deterioration of dementia and aged decline.

In a sense, I was trying to frame the ways in which our post-Christian culture tends to view God – as diminished, ineffectual and humiliated. Initially, with the project, I was wondering: if we think carefully about how our culture views God, perhaps we can think more honestly about how we might embody God’s grace and love within that culture…particularly for those people who are marginalized because they are seen to embody similar characteristics to those I was exploring in God. But the writing process didn’t result in such a joyful faith-based stance. Instead, as I felt the death of God, I realized I was also participating in a death to self. Continue reading

God’s Forgetfulness

I ended up erasing the final chapter of my dissertation and replacing it with another. The one I initially intended was simply too much of a mess, and too risky to do well with the limited time (and, more importantly, limited skill) I possessed in that moment.

In a nutshell, the constructive theological moments in my dissertation were all inspired by conversations between my own academic theological ways of speaking and the everyday theological ways of speaking articulated by people in my church (this conversational process was more formalized through certain forms of academic methods, but I won’t bore you with that here). The final chapter was inspired by a conversation about God’s eternal nature in one of the Sunday night theology classes I taught at the church.

One of the women in the class said that some time she spent with a friend who had Alzheimer’s Disease had helped her to understand God’s eternity Continue reading

new year’s peas and resolutions

My favourite thing about new year’s is not the booze and parties (although those are fun!). It’s the lucky black eyed peas (food, not band). Indeed, I became a bit obsessed with January 1st good-luck breakfasts while living in Nashville, TN; so now, black eyed peas are a staple at our first breakfast table each year. Until I did a little googling for this post, however, I didn’t realize that this tradition traced back to an ancient Jewish custom for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish new year). It was picked up by non-Jewish Southerners around the time of the Civil War…and I started doing it after a Southern friend got me hooked. It just seemed like fun, and it stuck. I think I’ve kept doing it because I loved my 5 years in Nashville so much, it’s now a way to remember and honour that time in my life as each new year begins.

This new year’s was not just about looking backwards, though – it was also about looking forwards and, mostly, about enjoying the present. Last year at this time, Continue reading