How to Take Communion

Communion Elements at Solomon's Porch - copyright Courtney Perry

My dissertation, like any, uses a lot of resources (390 footnotes, and counting) and tries to do a lot of things.  But it is primarily a proposal for a radically egalitarian ecclesiology, particularly reliant upon the theology of Jürgen Moltmann, and particularly possible in the still-young emerging church movement.

The practice of the Lord’s Supper is central to many emerging churches, as it is to many mainline, liturgical churches.  But, as with most traditional Christian practices, emerging church congregations have renegotiated both the meaning and the method of this sacrament.  My home church, Solomon’s Porch, may be at the forefront on this.  We practice a kind of pastiche version of communion, with the aspects of several different Christian traditions at play.

However, it is my contention that most emerging congregations have not gone nearly far enough in their renegotiation of the sacrament, and it is my hope that they will go much further toward making this rite, as Moltmann envisions it, a proclamation of eschatological hope.  Because, believe it or not, there won’t be any clergy in heaven.  So if at the Lord’s Table we are, “proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes again,” then that Table should be administered by all and open to all.

In fact, Moltmann, in The Church in the Power of the Spirit, lists six characteristics of the Lord’s Supper that he considers imperative:

[Read more…]

Dissertation Acknowledgements

In the next couple days, I’m wrapping up Draft No. 3, the penultimate version of my dissertation.  Kenda Dean, my advisor, will look it over, and early next week she’ll distribute it to the other three members of my dissertation committee.  How this works is, Kenda tells them which page numbers of the dissertation will most interest them — usually, the sections where I deal directly with their work.  While they, of course, can read the whole thing, professors’ schedules being what they are, they may not get to it.

Kenda will then funnel their observations back to me, later this month, and then I’ve got until March 15 to make those revisions, format the thing to very exacting specifications, and get it in hard copy to the PhD Studies Office at Princeton (Theological Seminary).

Among the finishing touches I’ve had to put on is the acknowledgements section.  While I won’t disclose the entirety just yet, here’s what I wrote about Kenda, [Read more…]

Dissertation Update

After a few blessed weeks of not thinking about it, my dissertation arrived last week via overnight messenger from Kenda Dean, replete with comments on suggestions on nigh every page.  I am now canceling appointments and putting off email responses until February 9, when the next (and penultimate) revisions are due back in Princeton.

Ass is in chair, head is down, and nose is to the grindstone.

On Finishing a Dissertation

My sojourn to Philadelphia last week took me close enough to the gravitational center of my doctoral studies that could not help but be sucked into the tractor beam of Princeton Theological Seminary.  While there, I had a wonderful lunch with my primary advisor, Kenda Dean, during which we mapped out a schedule by which I can complete my dissertation during this academic year.

What that means, in short, is that I have to revise my first four chapters and write the fifth and final chapter by the time that she boards a plane for South Africa on January 2, 2011.  Thereby, she can read my tome on the flight (what better way to kill 20 hours?!?) and return it to me for more revisions upon her return.  Thereafter, the dissertation will be distributed to the other three members of my dissertation committee, and I will subsequently make the changes that they suggest.

Then I will take on the tedious and arduous task of formatting the dissertation, about which Princeton will truck no deviance.  To wit:

The main body is to be consecutive Arabic numbering from “1.” The page containing a chapter heading is to have the page number centered and greater than or equal to ¾in from bottom of page. The remaining pages in a chapter have the page number at the top right corner at least ½in from any edge.

On or before March 15, the dissertation must be printed and presented to the PhD Studies Office at Princeton, at which time an oral defense will be scheduled, to take place no later than the last day of April.  After the oral defense takes place, two more copies of the dissertation, printed on “high-quality, non-erasable, acid-free paper” must be submitted to the PhD Studies Office, whereupon I will be awarded the degree of philosophiae doctoris.

I write all of this for the sole purpose of informing the readers of this blog that, holy shit, I have a lot of work to do by January 2!

Thanks for your ongoing support.