The Hidden Curriculum at General Theological Seminary: On authority, power, and how they aren’t the same thing

When the Board of Trustees at General Theological Seminary announced that a public statement would be made in the late afternoon on Friday, I was fairly sure whatever was about to be said was not going to be good news. There were telltale signs: Public announcements of the kind made on Friday are never a good idea.  It’s hard to be heard accurately.  Everyone goes home over the weekend to digest the decision made without recourse to further conversation.  Announcements of that kind don’t allow yo … [Read more...]

When Mystery becomes Product: The Case of General Theological Seminary

The first seminaries originated after the Council of Trent.  They were a product of what is sometimes called the Counter-Reformation.  But they were not simply the reaction of the Roman Catholic Church to the criticisms of the Protestant Reformation.  They were also the product of profound disquiet in the Catholic Church itself.  The church was concerned that clergy were not deeply formed in the Christian faith.  They were not competent and they were not well prepared.  So, the Council called for … [Read more...]

On the Clock: General Theological Seminary and the Fate of Protestantism

In conversations with my students at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, I've been asked, "Why does the crisis at The General Theological Seminary matter?  Doesn't The Episcopal Church have too many seminaries anyway?"  The answer, of course, is, "Yes, it does."Even if the in-coming class of seminary freshmen in The Episcopal Church was divided by the number of seminaries that the church has and those students were then assigned in equal numbers to the church's schools, that strategy c … [Read more...]

General Theological Seminary and Progressive Christianity

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The crisis at General Theological Seminary probably hasn’t been felt very far beyond the walls of The Episcopal Church. That’s not surprising. General is hardly a large seminary and, like most of our denomination’s seminaries, its faculty and student body is comparatively homogeneous, denominationally speaking. But the crisis has certainly rocked our little corner of the church-world. In part, because the dispute between General’s faculty and its President-Dean became the instant subject of conve … [Read more...]

Throw Like a Girl: The Power of Enacted Contradictions

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In a world fraught with an increasing number of bitter debates over what is theoretically possible, the best antidote to prejudice may still be the enacted contradiction.  That, at least, is one of the lessons to be learned from the Little League career of pitcher Mo’ne Davis who pitches at 70 mph and just threw history’s first shut out for Philadelphia’s Taney Dragons. She shatters sexist assumptions about what it means to “throw like a girl” and she does it all with composure that most adults f … [Read more...]

A prayer and benediction for Robin, child of God, and for us all…

CarpeDiem

We are saddened and rendered fearful by the loss of one with so much energy. We watch the news that tens of thousands --- hundreds of thousands --- have died and hardly register the loss. But, then, someone who has lived so publicly, so fearlessly, so vulnerably, and joyfully dies and the dimensions of human loss are crystalized, brought to bear on a single life, a single loss, an individual tragedy. In response, we rehearse his gifts. We scour his life for an explanation. The most fearful among … [Read more...]

Sobriety: “Guardian of the spirit”

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Dictionaries capture the impoverished meaning of the word “sobriety” in modern, American parlance.  One on-line dictionary, for example, offers three possible meanings:The state or quality of being sober. Temperance or moderation, especially in the use of alcoholic beverages. Seriousness, gravity, or solemnityBroadly speaking, however, the popular understanding of sobriety often amounts to little more than freedom from the influence of addictive substances (though some AA sites d … [Read more...]

Burning Snow

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Saint John Climacus, a seventh century monk at the monastery on Mt. Sinai was admired for his spiritual depth. As a result, a neighboring monastery asked him to serve as their spiritual director.  We don’t know much about Climacus, but it is reasonably certain that the one book he wrote, The Ladder of Divine Ascent was written in response to that request.Consisting of thirty chapters that allude to the life of Jesus and the Old Testament story of Jacob’s ladder, the book consists of three sec … [Read more...]


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