As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m teaching a three-year Doctor of Ministry cohort at Fuller Theological Seminary, beginning this June (we’ll meet for two weeks in June 2011, 12, and 13). I’m really looking forward to this journey because, like many followers of Jesus, I need a kick in my spiritual pants.
I already tend toward the intellectual, to be sure. My recent posts about demons and angels hint at what my friends already know: that I’m predisposed to believe only those things that make rational sense. In all honesty, that makes an uneasy postmodernist, since my bias is toward a more empirical worldview.
But, as much as I love theological and doctrinal wrangling, I know that spirituality is actually at the heart of the Jesus Way.
As my dissertation has dragged on over several years, I’ve not really afforded myself the chance to reinvest in Christian spirituality, as I had in several of my books. Writing a dissertation is, of course, a thoroughly intellectual endeavor. Not that it doesn’t test one’s spirit — it does! — but the method of writing an acceptable dissertation is one of qualified truth claims backed by warrants and evidence. The intuition that is so valuable in spirituality is not needed for this type of academic work — in fact, it most likely gets in the way.
But as the dissertation winds down (defense date, April 25 — all are welcome, as long as you buy me a shot afterward), I’m turning my mind and heart toward the course. I was spurred on in this after a phone conversation with Lauren Winner who, along with Phyllis Tickle, will be co-teaching the first year of the cohort. Lauren teaches a survey course on Christian spirituality at Duke University Divinity School. As we talked through our different duties for the first year of the cohort, I couldn’t help but thinking how much I’ve got to learn from Lauren. She’ll be teaching the history of Christian spirituality, and I’ll be teaching the theology of Christian spirituality. Plus, we’ll both be learning from the DMin students who are all in day-to-day ministry themselves.
Just a few more days of editing my dissertation before I make a big pot of coffee and start (re-)reading the many texts for the cohort. It’s gonna be great.