Seminaries and the Unthinking Future

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I've thought a lot about the future of theological education this semester. Some of that thinking was inevitably a product of engaging the task itself. Some of it was associated with my responsibilities as a member of The Episcopal Church's Board of Examining Chaplains, and some of it emerged from watching the situation at General Theological Seminary. Here is what has crystallized for me: One: While the situation at every seminary is different and many seminaries (my own included) are secure … [Read more...]

“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...]

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

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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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