oh yes!

This time tomorrow I will be in philly with A….. so excited!  I haven’t been there for almost a month, I miss A like hell, I miss Philly, surprisingly.  Can’t wait for the stories about what we do.

Now, as long as I do lots of homework on the train ride down….

For your reading pleasure

The Kingdom of Heaven

Francis Thompson

WORLD invisible, we view thee,

O world intangible, we touch thee,

O world unknowable, we know thee,

Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!


Does the fish soar to find the ocean,

The eagle plunge to find the air–

That ask of the stars in motion

If they have rumour of thee there? NOt where the wheeling systems darken,

And our benumbed conceiving soars!–

The drift of pinions, would we hearken,

Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.


THe angels keep their ancient places;–

Turn but a stone, and start a wing!

‘Tis ye, ’tis your estranged faces,

That miss the many-splendoured thing. But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)

Cry;–and upon thy so sore loss

Shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s ladder

Pitched betwixted Heaven and Charing Cross. 


Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,

Cry,–clinging Heaven by the hems;

And lo, Christ walking on the water

Not of Gennesareth, but Thames!  

anyone else see this?

SO i was in the gym this morning, running running running, and CNN was broadcasting Bush’s speech with the new prime minister of Pakistan, talking about how they were dialoging because America and Pakistan were interesting in spreading prosperity, presumably from us rich countries (aka USA) to them poor folks (aka pakistan).

all of this while the economy is going to heck in a handbasket.  Who needs the prosperity again?

Time to put on your thinking caps

Since Harvard is supposed to be a place where smart people go, they like to make sure that they have sufficiently schooled you in how to think like a smarty pants before you leave.  Thus enters the …DUN DUN DUN…. thesis.

So this year I am responsible for…. you guessed it… thinking something creative and interesting about a topic of my choosing as a way of proving that I know how to do that critical skill they call “reasoning”.  It has been something looming in the distance for two years now, and since it is here and I can’t avoid it any longer, I had to pick something.


But what to choose?  There is so much out there that is interesting and worthy of writing about.  Worse even, I often feel the temptation to feel grateful to know a little bit about a lot of things but not specialize enough in any one to feel confident writing about it in depth.  In other words, it feels like I am feeling out uncharted territory with a faulty compass while my colleagues blaze around with a tom tom. Maybe that is carrying it a way a bit, but you get the idea.


So anyways, after lots and lots of waffling around and thinking about it, I think I have finally settled on my topic.  And if you are willing, I would love to get feedback, ideas, questions, anything you can throw at me in regards to what I am thinking.  Because the best thesis, the best question, as we all know, isn’t a lecture but a discussion amongst colleagues, one that is generative and that honors the voices of all that come to the table.

So here it is– let me know what you think!

What I am interested in is the following question–how do we (the church) move beyond talking about hospitality to doing it?  What sort of doing will achieve the desired result?  What kind of intention is required?

How would I answer the question in a thesis?

How might a church respond practically (aka communally, liturgically) to the realities of the people within their community?  My answer will explore a practical theology of hospitality, specifically interested in transforming liturgy to engage the people as the work of the people rather than as remote from them.  The formation of this practical theology will explore the history of the reformed church, liberation theology, as well as the emergence of radical fringe groups centered around ideas and ideals of hospitality.

Laboring On

I am beginning to think I am being followed by the Laborers in the Vineyard. 

As you may or may not know, this was the NT passage selected for the exegetical exam on the Presbyterian Ords.  So as you can imagine I spent quite a bit of time with the sucker for about 5 days, learning quite a bit about it.  Since then the passage has continued to crop up in my midst; its in the books I read, the churches I visit, blogs and more.  In fact, I am beginning to think that perhaps the exams were more than providential in choosing that passage.  I mean, who knew that I was going to end up saturated in this particular verse?  Certainly not the committee that chose it.  but there it is (I guess you could make the case I just notice it because it was there…. a convincing argument but I doubt it.)

Anyways, today it cropped up in church.  I decided to visit Harvard Memorial Church this morning because Rev. Dr. Barbara Brown Taylor was slated to preach.  If you don’t know who this woman is, she is an adjunct at columbia theological seminary and butman professor at piedmont college.  We were required to read her book, “The Preaching Life,” in my introduction to ministry studies class at HDS.  I enjoyed her sermons quite a bit and was therefore inspired to forego my own church for this one.  

Leaving aside my experience of how Harvard does church, the texts for the day were…. Jonah ch. 4 and the Laborers.  Oh laborers.  It was a great sermon, to be sure.  It was also interesting to hear the laborers juxtaposed with Jonah’s whining in chapter four.  It was a way of looking at the passages and hearing the Jewishness of Matthew that I didn’t expect and certainly hadn’t thought of before.  The message was fairly predictable: God’s graciousness is hard to accept, scandalous in its seeming denial of justice and righteousness, etc etc.  the focus was on our anger and whether it is right to be angry when good things happen to bad people… which is a good question to ask, I think, and a question that has an easy answer unless it is happening to someone who isn’t you, or you feel wronged by God’s grace to another… which totally happens, I believe, more often than we would like to admit.

Anyways, she was great, her sermon threw me back a month to ords, and the music was beautiful (Harvard has an amazing choir that sings good ole’ hymns 15th-17th century style… pretty awesome to just sit and listen in the midst of it all.)

So yea…. still trying to sort out what the laborers might have to teach me next.  I am convinced that they refuse to go away, perhaps in part because I will always have a reason to see myself in them, and I guess I am okay with that.   And I don’t mind being reminded in good sermons, that’s for sure.


In other news… lets see.  The NY Times is back to running pieces on presidential politics in balance with the economic crisis…. so i am back to feeding my habit.  Some really interesting opinion pieces in there today, like here and here and here.  I have to say it is hard to NOT read the myriad of polls and opinions out there… but it definitely is pretty awesome to realize the amount of info there is to be read every day.

eating words, drinking the spirit

God must read blogs….. or the minds of those who write them.  This day has turned out to be quite the opposite of lonely– as I wrote the previous post, many familiar and friendly faces emerged from my surrounding environment…. later that afternoon I found myself in the company of a combination of new and old faces at Professor Gomes’ tea party, hearing the passions and interests of others and drinking their enthusiasm in for the new year… as I journeyed to the bookstore to buy a text book, I ran into a new face and we made plans to visit the Harpoon Brewery on Saturday…and as I slogged up to the third floor of Andover to pick up a packet of readings, I ran into old friends who have since graduated along with current students, and later found myself enjoying conversation over a decent ale at the local university pub.  Life is good.

new year

Seminary can be a lonely place, as I am beginning to discover at the outset of my third year as an MDIV.  Unlike (or who knows, perhaps a lot like) many seminaries, Harvard Divinity School consists primarily of students pursing the Masters in Theological Studies, a two year masters degree that prepares one to pursue doctoral studies most often.  It also means that the 30 or 40 MDIVs who enter will find themselves amidst a radically different crowd their third year compared to the class they started with.  In my experience, this means that as many as 70-80% of the faces that I knew my first two years are no longer with me, leaving me to wonder how it is possible that I might ever find a stable community of fellow journeyers on this theological journey known as MDIV.

OF course, this is merely a holding tank; seminary is not intended as the place you end up at, merely a means to a future end.  still… can’t help but wondering whether things might have been different somewhere else…


I feel like i am in some sorta slump… probably related to the fact that school starts tomorrow.  I spent all weekend doing small things–reading the paper, riding my bike, cooking.  In many respects an awesome weekend, now that I think of it; just that I feel that there is so little that is noteworthy that is on my mind lately that I have had trouble thinking about what to blog about.  There’s some obvious stuff-the news is full of interesting stuff related to politics–but given the popularity of all tags relating to the election, I think I might opt out of that sort of blogging for now.

And since I am pretty much putting “critical thinking” on the backburner until school heats up again, I suppose that leaves me with “what did you do today” sort of stuff, which isn’t appealing to me to put to the internets.  It sucks a bit to feel like I have little to say, but it is also the case that I feel pretty good about what I have done, save the lingering absence of A, which is palpable at times.  It stinks missing people you love…. takes the wind out of the sails a bit to know they are far enough away to be distant in a geographical and semi-permanent sense… not like I can go to philly whenever i want.

I certainly hope i can turn my brain back on soon and think something interesting; until then, I think I will stick to the simple stuff that is keeping me going in the erstwhile.