Other words from the BWCAW

My last post attempted to share a brief summary of my recent experience as part of Fuller Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry Cohort on Christian Spirituality taught by Tony Jones. I’ll post some more of my thoughts soon, but in the meantime see if these words and pictures from others in the cohort don’t make you want to go to the Boundary Waters. I bet they will.

Here we are at the end of the 10 days (in all our bearded glory) photo by Brady Braatz

In a five-part series he calls “What Seminary Education Ought to Be,” Tony blogged some of his thoughts during and right after our time together. They are definitely worth reading in their entirety. At the very least, click through to see the photos by Courtney Perry that accompany each post.

Part 1:

It seems odd to call these ten “students.” While I am, indeed, the “professor,” and I grudgingly grade their papers and presentations, I struggle with stratification implicit in the professor-student relationship. While I have an expertise forged by Princeton and experience, it is abundantly clear that each of us here is a learner. And each is a teacher.

Part 2:

Teaching a class from a canoe and a campsite instill a dramatically different vibe, as you can imagine. Most days end with Brian and me — the two instructors — sharing a cup of coffee and some fishing. The environment of being in the wild and out of a classroom inculcates a fellowship that I just don’t think could be replicated inside a classroom.

Part 3:

Leading an ecclesial community is not like leading a business or teaching in a public school or being a social worker or marriage therapist. Being a pastor is, I daresay, a unique vocation, and it demands a unique training.

Part 4:

In short, theology shouldn’t be treated like other academic subjects. It’s unique, and should be taught uniquely. Indeed, theology should be taught by methods that are inherently theological, and I think that there’s a strong case to be made that a conversation is more Christlike than a lecture.

Part 5:

Finally, this: where one studies should be consonant with what one studies.

Last week, we were studying the doctrine of creation and its relationship to Christian spirituality. It seemed to me downright silly to study the doctrine of creation where I did, in a classroom.

Finally, my new friend (and cohort roomie), Carl Anderson offered this reflection on Tony’s blog. Here are just two of his insightful thoughts:

We oriented at BWX the next day and it was time for the water; we set off in our canoes. Paddling, portaging, making and breaking camp, these were more than just our activities in the Boundary Waters. They became the means of prayer, the foundation of community, and declaration of solidarity. We connected with each other and creation in ways only made possible through this shared experience.

The fervor of our class time conversations continued during our transition from the Boundary Waters to Tonyʼs family cabin. Since pretense had been removed, we were able to have vulnerable conversations, asking penetrating questions and listening to one another with genuine humility. We argued and agreed and asked more questions. One of the real joys of this cohort has been the beauty of discovery in searching for answers and finding perspective.

Read the rest.

It’s been a Good Friday

The Crucifixion
Image via Wikipedia

Since the blogosphere is overrun with people reflecting on their journey of faith in Christ (most of whom are way better at it than I), it should come as no surprise that posts on the meaning of Good Friday abound.

Here are some that I found meaningful and thought-provoking:

1. My friend Adam Ericksen  offers this video post wondering why today isn’t Tragic Friday:

2. Via Tony Jones, a terrific post by Craig Goodwin on today’s confluence of Good Friday and Earth Day.

3. Finally, Eugene Cho, the Seattle-based pastor and founder of the excellent extreme poverty-fighting non-profit, One Day’s Wages, encourages us not to skip ahead to Easter Sunday too quickly. We need to stay in the uncomfortable dark a while longer.

That’s what I wanted tonight: to stay in the uncomfortable dark a while longer.

Don’t get me wrong, worship at my church tonight was meaningful. In lieu of a musical prelude, a couple of our young people pounded on pieces of wood with hammers. It was a Tenebrae service, meaning we read the last words of Jesus and extinguished candles, causing the sanctuary to get darker and darker. Pastor Jim offered a powerful meditation on the very real suffering in the world and in our lives. We sang the hauntingly beautiful hymn “Were You There?”… and yet, I wanted more. I wanted more darkness and to sit in it longer. I wanted to consider what this day in which we remember Jesus’ death would be like if we approached it as if we didn’t yet know about the Easter Resurrection.

What would today be like for you if Resurrection weren’t just two days away, but was still an inconceivable impossibility?