About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an academic and an Episcopal priest), live in Highland Park, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and four grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, and Sophie.

“Done” with the wrong kind of Church

Mark Sandlin recently wrote a telling article on the rise of the “Dones,” people who have been active in the church and their departure.  The article hit a deep nerve and a number of people declared themselves among this new, disaffected tribe.  Sandlin lays the blame at the church’s doorstep, noting that the church has “killed spiritual community.”On one level, I agree, but reading the church’s failure against the backdrop of over two thousand years of history I could have hoped for a bit mo … [Read more...]

It’s not all about you

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For people who don’t believe that there is a god, atheists have a lot to say about the subject.  One of the latest arguments offered by “Godless in Dixie” also rates as one of the more narcissistic defenses I’ve heard offered for atheism:  Jesus didn’t “return his calls.”It would be easy to poke gaping holes in this argument (which GiD counts as one of the more important reasons he is an atheist).  One could simply start with the “me-ocentric” universe in which he lives.  The logic that thing … [Read more...]

Vocation and Jobs

I've been through two employment crises. Three if you include the uncertain business of doing doctoral work against the backdrop of a changing academy and a shrinking church. This is a piece of what I have learned: Focus on vocation -- on God's calling on your life. That calling won't have a title or a job description attached to it. You won't find it on an "org chart." It might not even be one in the same with your "day-job." The key to discovering your vocation lies in asking what do I do, … [Read more...]

What is a seminary faculty?

As we discuss curriculum revision at my own seminary, I’ve found myself thinking anew about what it means to be part of a seminary faculty.  Watching events embroil other seminary faculties in troubling conflict, that question has gained considerable urgency.The question may seem abstract, but an answer might go some way toward answering the questions about the mission of today’s seminaries. The answer also has the potential for answering questions about the relationship between seminary boar … [Read more...]

Demonizing Difference and the Word Police

wordpolice

One of the more disturbing developments in Progressive Christian thought of late is the demonizing of difference.  There was a time when we insisted on differences being acknowledged and everyone being heard.  That was true of advocacy for racial and ethnic differences.  It was also true of advocacy for differences in sex. Now, however, the trend is toward denying difference.Take, for example, the recent legislation tabled, but to be considered next year by the Diocese of Connecticut and wh … [Read more...]

Of Angels and Attorneys: General Theological Seminary

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When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that … [Read more...]

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...]


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