Posts in: theology

Phil Christman:

Christianity is not about having an exquisite collection of private meanings that one occasionally dusts and admires. It’s about the mess and inconvenience and annoyance of other people and the terror of being known: God is never more God than when God is walking around in a killable body, irritating the authorities and being misunderstood by God’s stupid friends, of whom I hope I am one.

One of the peculiarities of writing a dissertation during 2020–21 was the lack of library access. I was fortunate in owning many of the materials I needed, and the library staff at Boston College did what they could to make their collection available to us. Still, I’m glad to have more regular access to a library again (and one as good as the Franciscan Institute’s in Friedsam Memorial Library!).

I like this characterization of prayer, in the fourth book of the Franciscan Summa halensis (q.26, m.3, a.7; p. 720 in the 1622 Cologne edition). A quick and rough translation (verging on paraphrase, really):

Properly speaking, prayer is the ascent of the soul to God ordered to the tasting or releasing of something; commonly speaking, prayer is any act of contemplation related to God; most commonly speaking, prayer is any good act.

Paul Griffiths, in a parenthetical aside:

Augustine on the whole does not like jokes, and thinks there will be none in heaven.

Willie James Jennings, with a really lovely description of theological education at the end of his After Whiteness:

To be involved in theological education is to long for eternity and the end of death. It is to seek the blessed state where our words start to do new work by first joining the chorus of the words of those who live forever in the Lord and who sound the healing and redeeming voice of the living God. Then our words will heal. Then our words will build up. Then our words will help form life together. Then our words will give witness to a destiny only visible through love. Talking together then is a practice aimed at eternity, and it matters more than we often realize for bringing our hope into focus. This finally is the goal of this book and the task I want to leave you with—to bring hope into focus.

Willie James Jennings, After Whiteness:

Theological education could mark a new path for Western education, one that builds a vision of education that cultivates the new belonging that this world longs to inhabit. But we cannot give witness to that newness if we imagine that our fundamental struggle is one of institutional survival, or the challenge of educational delivery systems, or the alignment of financial modeling with our desired outcomes, or the expansion of pedagogical models. All these matters are important, but they are not where the struggle meets us or from where the vision of our futures will come.

Willie James Jennings, After Whiteness:

Theological education is also about resistance. It is the seed from which may grow beautiful habitation or from which may grow mind-bending captivity. Yet how do you design for intellectual resistance? This may be the most pressing question in theological education today, because we theological educators are failing miserably at precisely this—at imagining a form of resistance that builds community.