Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Dawn has guilted me into posting. With her guilty ways. Now I'm ashamed and covered in gold paint. Ah, well.

I've taken on the role of Super-Uncle for a chunk of this Christmas break. You learn things, in this process.

A) Three is an age that all actors should observe carefully. We talk a lot about objective and strategem (whatever the fashionable language about it is now), and three year-olds are practically case studies in objective and strategem. Stuff they want, but can't get. Tantrums, wheedling, all manner of different tricksiness. Parents are also a good study - how does a parent get a kid to do what she wants? Or what the kid needs, but can't articulate (a decent hissy fit usually indicates that you missed your window for getting them properly fed).

B) There is very little which cannot be endured with other, participating adults by your side.

C) It is difficult to type and hold a baby at the same time.

Since I currently have a baby on my lap, that's about all. More, perhaps, if there is break theology.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Teach 2.0

So, I've been bouncing around a bit the idea that what I really am interested in is "technology in ministry." But, today, essentially, I've nailed it down even further. Hey - zeroing in on a life! It's like Zeno's paradox. With my soul.

So - the single thing about which I am most excited, and into which I pour most energy, is the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus, the Anointed One of God. Going to be a pastor, and praying that I learn more every day how to live and be the gospel for those around me.

Among the other things that get me excited (science fiction, games, romance, LEDs, semiconducting polymers, movies, books, etc.), one of the key elements recently has been technology broadly, and Web 1.5/2.0 specifically. (Yes. Web 1.5. Got a problem?). In the last few months, I have acquired twitter, del.icio.us, resurrected my blog, gotten neck-deep in facebook, and started communicating with my family and friends in whole new ways. (this connects to World of Warcraft, also, which is a whole 'nother post).

The best part of my day, though, is not compulsively checking twitter. Or facebook. Or my e-mail. The best part of my day is when someone says to me "what is twitter?" and I get to show them. The using of this stuff is fun. The teaching of this stuff gets me totally fired up. I had nearly forgotten that my best days at the Middlebury Helpdesk were the days when I got to explain a new concept to a student or faculty member.

So - I see myself, at least for a bit, traveling around, showing off new technologies to people, getting churches fired up about how they can talk to one another. Because, at bottom, that's the discussion. We, as people, as Americans, as Christians, have so many ways to speak now, even when we're far apart. We need to be sure not to lose the face-to-face interactions, but I'm thrilled about our new opportunities for building a wider community.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Finis Incepti

The beginning is over. Just had my last class in my first long term at Princeton. A lot has happened in the last three months (my stars, has it really only been three months?). Since this post is, at least in part, for the benefit of my session, it'll be fairly full, but now's the time for good review. While it's still, y'know. Fresh.

On all of my class evaluations, they asked what the most important single thing you learned from the class was. I thought it was a great question, so I'm going to spend some time elaborating on the answers here, and hoping that that answers any questions you may have about the classes.

Systematic Theology: "Theology is a science of mysterious tensions." I wrote that on this blog a while back, and it keeps rattling around in my head. Theology - an argument or study of God. Science - a system of knowledge. Mysterious - as opposed to logos, impenetrable truth; knowledge that surpasses rational understanding. Tensions - a dynamic state existing between two bodies, in this case, two facts. A couple of quotations and thoughts to illustrate this point:

"God is light, but God is unlike any light that we know." - Irenaeus

"...one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation..." - Definition of the Council of Chalcedon

And the like. Over and over. To understand truly the doctrines of the early church, we must hold in dynamic tension many of the fundamentals of our faith. God is three. God is one. Yes.

Pastorally, I think this will show up in the moments when it's needed. In times when someone is considering an ill choice, it may be best to talk about human free will. In the passing of a loved one, it may be best to discuss God's providential plan. It sounds ludicrous, but it's how we must live our faith, in the space between the truths that God has revealed to us.

Theology of John Calvin: "Context matters - especially for theologians." I talked about this, too, in a previous post. Calvin's current context deeply affected his theology - predestination, the eucharist, church structure, all were set up in reaction against the excesses (perceived and real) of Rome. (Increasingly, by the way, I'd like to sit down with some Catholic friends of mine again and dig into why we disagree). So, how does my context as a theologian affect my theology? I'm very conscious of my American-ness when I talk to the Korean and Malawian fellows in my Calvin precept. Their theology has been shaped by their contexts - so has mine. How? How as a pastor can I faithfully respond to my own background in the proclamation of the gospel?

Introduction to the Old Testament: "Scripture is changed profoundly by the lens through which we look at it, and is itself our own lens for looking at the world." Disclaimer: I believe that the Holy Scriptures, as they are received and affirmed by the councils of the church and the great reformers, are the divinely inspired and authoritative Word of God. However, I also believe that humans are weak and error-prone vessels, whose understanding of the scriptures will always be imperfect, not because of any fault of scripture, but because of the faults of finite beings. We all bring preconceptions and assumptions to our readings of the Bible that we cannot escape. But, through careful study, consideration, deliberation, and prayer, we can come to an understanding of the positions of other wise interpreters, both modern and ancient, and to some sort of consensus about how Scripture must be read.

Introduction to Speech/Communication: "God has given you gifts - be sure you keep working on them. Don't let the important ones slide." Not too much more to say on that one. It's a really fun class - I'm looking forward, always, to more guidance about how to be an effective speaker.

So - that's the academic story. For the more personal side of life...well...come back tomorrow. I have to leave work quite soon.

PS - http://twitter.com/evangelius