Saturday, October 29, 2005

Robert Jenson on Song of Songs 6:10

Jens is at it again, this time with a great commentary on the Song of Songs, the Songliest of Songs. In a comment on the poem fragment chapter 6 verse 10, he writes:

"God's bride [Israel] is terrible, a heavenly host and ranked army. And since her suitor is God, it must be first of all he to whom she is terrible, whom she appalls and with whom she must be reconciled. An entire theology of atonement, of the mean of the crucifixion and resurrection, could be built around the terror that God's people poses for her Bridegroom: "Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me!""

mysterium fascinosum et tremendum indeed!

On a side note, we're exploring new ways to organize Lutheran churches in our synod, not as area ministries but as clusters. The current proposal is to cluster based on shared interests. I'm encouraging the idea that whatever we do it needs to re-emphasize our sacramental life together as a church of churches. How do y'all do this in your various synods and denoms?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

CTI Pastor-Theologian Update

Our topic this year is "Jesus Christ Savior and the Church", which
means we are continuing our focus on Jesus Christ as Savior (and so
specifically the soteriological dimension of Christology), but now
moving from the more general and personal understanding of salvation
to the more communal dimension.

You might say that year one was asking, "How or in what way is Jesus
Savior, and what is the salvation accomplished in Christ", coupled
with the question, "How does that apply to specific sins, people,
etc.?" The paper I produced last year was an extended study of
Jonathon Edwards's understanding of the history of
redemption/salvation, and the import of his theology for his
homiletics (preaching).

This year, we are looking at Jesus Christ Savior as it is worked out
ecclesiologically. So, during our first session in Notre Dame, we
discussed Lumen Gentium; for the RC understanding of
salvation and the church, plus some of the confessional documents of
the Presbyterians (!) for an example of the Protestant approach to the
church and salvation. Our visit to the Amish Anabaptists was another
stab at understanding the ecclesiology of a specific community, one
quite different from Protestants and Catholics. In the fall, we're
reading a variety of books representing a wide array of
ecclesiologies, including some of the books I've reviewed in previous
posts and will continue to review as I work my way through them.

In the spring, we're looking at The Princeton Proposal, and a
collection of essays edited by Braaten/Jenson on the church.

In the meantime, my own particular writing and work will be on these
two things. First, I am looking in-depth at Yves Congar (which means
I will probably also need to look a bit at Henri de Lubac as well).
He is my "resource" theologian.

Second, for a paper, I'm working on a constructive piece with the
working thesis, "The church is the body of Christ poured out in the freedom of the Spirit for the sake of the world." My very preliminary comments on this thesis (to myself and now to this larger audience) are as follows:

"In this way the church is sacrament. This conceptualization unifies
two things of concern for our pastor-theologian group, a) the
evangelical catholicity of the church (ie. The Reformation and
East-West splits are a tragedy, and we should be moving towards
visible unity), and b) the social justice dimension, that structures
often put energy into maintaining structures, and in this way cease to
be true “bodies”; structures that are not poured out in love are dead
bones that need the revivification of the Spirit."

Addendum: I experimented with posting directly to my blog by e-mail, but apparently the formatting does not work correctly. If anyone has more experience with this, please let me know what I may have done wrong... Thanks.

Friday, October 07, 2005

iPod My Baby

We don't yet own an iPod, and are not sure we ever will, but apparently you can simply iPod your baby, and I think the scroll wheel ends up producing more giggles than the original.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Notre Dame & The Amish

This past week was the first meeting of our second year of the Pastor-Theologian Program, CTI. As always, it was wonderful to gather with a group of theologically minded pastors and nerd out on theology.

Notre Dame is laid out nicely as a campus. Since it is a bit of a distance from downtown South Bend, it has all the amenities of a downtown right on campus- bookstore, coffee shops, restaurants, and a nice old hotel right in the center of campus.

Nota bene: The famous touchdown Jesus is really, really big, painted on the side of the campus library. It's actually only visible from one end of the stadium as you look out, but this indeeds stations Jesus directly above the goal posts in a benedictory pose. Apparently there are two religions at Notre Dame: Catholic and football. We attended Mass (there are two daily masses on campus in the basilica, plus a number of other smaller masses in various chapels), and observed that its a very pious campus. One faculty member described the students as pious, intelligent jocks. we saw the piety very clearly- theology discussion groups, catholic yet charismatic worshippers, bible studies. But the football stadium is located smack dab in the middle of campus as the "Saturday religion", and the academic standards of the university have been going up for years, so it's all three of those things.

Nota bene duo: One afternoon and evening we travelled to Shinsenawa, Indiana, the center of Amish culture in Indiana, and home of the Mennohof, a museum charting the history of the Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites. We learned a ton at this museum, especially the way these Anabaptist traditions have interacted and developed over the years. At the conclusion of our day, we drove out to an Amish home for a traditional Amish wedding feast (the food without the wedding), and a local Amish bishop ate with us and answered questions after the meal.

I've never been in this situation before- I needed to pass an Amish wagon and horses, but the oncoming traffic was wagons and horses, so I couldn't pass. These wagons were as regular a part of traffic in town and in the country as cars in Wisconsin or bicycles in downtown Madison.

I had also never known that the Amish make a decision at about 17 or 18 years of age whether to remain in the community. If they are baptized into the community, they are then expected to stay, and are shunned if they leave. But, if they leave prior to baptism of their own free choice, they can maintain open communication with the family and community with less judgments and no shunning.

There is a whole way of thinking within this community, collective decision-making and ethics, that is so foreign to me as to be almost incommensurable. They operate out of quite a different horizon. For that reason alone, it's worth a trip to Shinsenawa and the Mennohof to broaden your horizons as to what it can mean to be a Christian in but not of the world.