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.

2 thoughts on “Time to put on your thinking caps

  1. I think it sounds great! Actually, my colleague, John Wimberly, might be a good person to talk to about this. Western and Miriam’s Kitchen would be an interesting case.

    We have on our mantle, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” It has certainly become a part of who we are.

    Not sure if we’re fringe though… I guess it would depend on where one’s center is…

  2. What interests me particularly about your topic are the “definitional questions”–how do we think of community, and thus who are we aiming to be hospitable to? Is hospitality “for” something, are we hospitable to reach a certain end, or is hospitality for hospitality’s sake, and if so, how is that useful? I think answers to these questions will help shape what practices of hospitality will look like.

    Do you plan to look at the Bi-ble?

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