What Is It about Rome?

Sunset over the Roman Forum (c) Courtney Perry

Yesterday morning, Courtney and I arrived in Rome for our honeymoon. By my count, this is my 13th trip to caput mundi. I first came to Rome in 1989 as a senior in college, and the trip changed my life. I came because my beloved professor, Edward Bradley, nearly shouted at me, “Dammit, man, you must come to Rome with me. We’ll walk in the footsteps of the saints!” (Read about it here (PDF).)

I’ve come back many times since. A couple times with Edward, a couple times with friends, a couple times leading tours, and now with my beloved Courtney. Yesterday, we wandered. We saw the Forum, we drank Campari, we saw the Campo dei Fiori, we drank cappuccino, we saw the Piazza di Spagna, we drank Limoncello. We also drank wine and Cynar and Prosecco. You get the picture.

Sometimes you hear people who’ve been to Italy complain that Rome is the least favorite of the cities they visited. It’s too dirty, they complain, and too noisy. Florence is more their speed, where everyone speaks English, and all the restaurant menus are, too. Well, they can have Florence. I’ll take urbs sacra. Last night we went, on a recommendation from our dear friend Annie of scooteroma, to a small hosteria tucked in a back alley off the Via del Corso. The waiters spoke little English, the owner spoke none. The menu was only in Italian. And it was, quite possible, the best carbonara I’ve ever tasted.

What will we do today? See more churches, eat more amazing food, drink some more as well.


That Time When I Won the Rodeo

That’s what my article is about in tomorrow’s Travel section of the StarTribune. Well, about that and the rest of our trip to the dude ranch in August. Plus, the always awesome photos Courtney Perry.

Repost from December, 2006: My Day at Southern Seminary

My Day at SBTS

Yesterday, I was hosted for a day at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I learned some lingo, For instance, in SBC circles, the school is referred to either as “Southern Seminary,” “Southern,” or “The Southern Baptist Seminary.” Specifically, I was invited by the faculty of the International Center for Youth Ministry at Boyce College, and its director, Dave Adams.

As one might imagine, I had some trepidation going into this conversation, particularly having read the less-than-affirming blogs of the school’s president, Al Mohler, regarding Brian and Emergent.

However, I must say that rarely have I been received so hospitably, humbly, and generously. Dave, the rest of the Boyce faculty and Ph.D. students, and the school’s dean, Jimmy Scroggins, were everything that you’d want Christian brothers to be. (No, there were no sisters present.)

We talked non-stop from the 11am till 4pm. We found points of agreement and points of difference. For them, it was significant that I personally affirmed the historic, physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ — in fact, when asked point-blank whether I could affirm it, my response was something like, “Not only do I affirm it, I consider it the pivot point in the entire history of the cosmos.”

But, we differed when it came to decisional evangelism, inerrancy, and the exclusivity of propitiation in understanding the atonement. I made it clear that I didn’t necessarily reject any of these positions, but that I consider none of them sufficient. We had a good little conversation about the Trinity, and I was able to explicate my ecclesiology a bit, explaining how it grows from my understanding of the perichorectic Trinity.

It was difficult at times parsing out whether I was speaking for myself or speaking for Emergent, but I guess that goes with the job. A good challenge came from Prof. Randy Smith at the end of the day: he said that if Emergent is primarily about theological tweaking, then he’s not interested, but if it’s about missional Christianity, then he’s very interested.

Before I went to the airport, I was taken into the president’s office, to meet Al. Actually, we walked through his ante-office and into his “real” office, where he was preparing for his daily radio program and a later appearance on Anderson Cooper 360 – he was weighing in on the no-church-on-Christmas controversy. We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. It was somewhat awkward for me, as I imagine it was for him, too.

Who knows where all this will lead? I don’t, but I know that conversations such as this are only good.

Coming Soon: A Tour of Rome

In May, 2014, I will be leading a tour of Rome. I’m calling the tour, From Pagans to Christians – The Art, Architecture, and Proto-Theology of the Earliest Christians. My co-leader will be Professor Edward Bradley, my intellectual mentor and a professor of classics at Dartmouth College for over 40 years.

Here is an early draft of my description of the trip:

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