Here’s a little casual Friday post for y’all.
As a child, my favorite show was Batman: The Animated Series. Likely, if you were born in the 80s, this show was part of your youth. Surprisingly, can you believe it was only on for 3 years?! Only 85 episodes were ever made.
But I loved it, and I watched it over and over again. It was dark and gritty (or as much as it could have been), had compelling stories, and (in hindsight) was full of complex characters. So complex, in fact, you could actually create an entire podcast psychologically analyzing them!
Today is the Christian Church Holy Day celebrating the Assumption of Mary. Now, I’m definitely a Protestant when it comes to Mary, but here are some thoughts I’ve offered in the past.
Mary: Ordained as Prophetess, Priestess, & King
During the summers, when school was out, my mama and I would stay up incredibly late (like, until the sun came up) watching Nic-at-Nite and other TV shows. She would make nachos (using Doritos–don’t knock it til you tried it) and drink a Diet Coke, while I took part in the nightly dance of trying to get some of both for myself.
On one of these extremely late night/mornings, I asked, “Mama, how does someone actually get to heaven?” She answered in the usual Southern Baptist way. I don’t remember all of it, but I do know it ended with describing the act of praying the “Sinner’s Prayer”.
I said, “I want to do that!”
Mama said we could make an appointment to talk to someone at our church so they could make sure I knew what I was doing, and then I could pray that prayer and be baptized.
I ran down the hallways, incredibly excited, and woke up my daddy, only an hour or so from waking up for work. I shook him and said, “Daddy! Daddy! I’m going to get saved!”
I have a couple of new posts over at Going To Seminary on helpful apps for reading and studying while you’re going through school.
It won’t take you long upon your arrival at seminary how much things may have changed from previous generations of seminary educations. One of the biggest differences is just how digital everything is. Most seminaries have some sort of online class management system through which you will track grades, assignments, schedules, and get documents and readings necessary for your classwork. Lectures are on PowerPoints that are often shared online. Likely the very first official seminary swag you’ll get is an email address.
Things have changed, for sure. But luckily, we live in a time of unparalleled resources to help you engage all the more deeply in your seminary education; resources that help you focus on what you need to focus on while letting technology do much of the heavy lifting.
Read the rest:
Check out the rest of my Going To Seminary posts.
I like to think I listen to really good music–and I do. My most recent listens have been Sufjan’s Carrie & Lowell, Mozart’s Requiem, Miles Davis’ A Kind of Blue, Fugees’ The Score, and Taylor Swift’s 1989. But I also have a secret, closeted (until now) habit of listening to Christian Praise music on my own.
One of my favorite more recent songs is called “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” by the Australian artist Matt Redman (video below). We sing it at my church, and I listen to it on my own. It’s one of the better contemporary worship songs out there, but there is a grave grammatical error in the song that, for at least me, colors my experience of this song in a distracting way. Here’s the chorus of the song:
Bless the Lord oh my soul, Oh my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before, Oh my soul
I’ll worship your holy name
Do you see it? Yes, there is an odd tense change from present imperative verbs to a future verb in the last line, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
Rather, it’s that the first three lines are speaking to one’s soul about God, and then it says “I’ll worship your holy name”. Who is being spoken to? Throughout the chorus, the singer is speaking to their own soul, telling their soul to worship God, and then it jumps to second person.
I know, I know, the song’s intention is to turn to worshipping God, but grammatically, it is offering this worship to one’s own soul. And I think this matters for several reasons.
I have such a love-hate relationship with sleep. I love it when I’m in it, but avoid it at all costs. I also have a new post on Going To Seminary in which I talk about sleep and the seminarian. No, it’s not just about how sleep is good for you, but how it actually affects us spiritually. Check it out. Here’s the intro:
In any school, especially graduate school—including seminary—one of its greatest costs is to one’s sleep. At least, I know that’s the case for me. I spent most of my adult schooling years with an average nightly sleep duration of 4 to 6 hours. And let’s be honest, for most of us that find ourselves staying up late, it’s often not that we’re doing school the entire time. Sometimes we’re trying to recover from the school work we’ve already finished, or maybe further putting off the work we’ve yet to do.
Check out the rest of my Going To Seminary posts.
For the site Best Seminary, I recently wrote two pieces about Distance Education. As I begin:
When I originally entered seminary, it was in a pretty traditional setting. A walled-in, ivy-laden campus with bearded men roaming the grounds, coffee-in-hand. We had a set schedule of classes that we dutifully went to, staring at Powerpoint presentations of varying quality, accompanied by live lecture and in-the-moment Q&A. My classmates and I would spend all our free hours together debating, arguing, refining, and sharing all our theological growth and such.
But after one year there, circumstance and convictions led me to leave that school. I worked for several years, but now I’m back in seminary, in a distance program. These two schools have similar doctrinal convictions, professorial pedigree, institutional history, and such. Therefore, I feel that I’ve been able to experience distance seminary education in a way that hopefully can give insight to anyone out there considering what sort of program to enter.
The first post gives “5 Advantages of Distance Seminary Education“:
- You make your own schedule
- You can stay invested in your church community and ministry
- It’s often more thoughtful and grace-filled
- The depth and diversity of community
- It’s Incarnational and humbling
The second is “5 Disadvantages of Distance Seminary Education“:
- You have to create your own structure
- You have less immediate access to the professors—or none at all
- It’s greater temptation to be dishonest
- Reading, reading, and more reading. Oh, and writing
- The experience is less cohesive
Click on those links for more thoughts on each of those points. And don’t forget to leave your own thoughts!
Just wanted to drop a quick note about this. I’ve been asked by an old friend and minister of mine if I could share my varied experiences on seminary life and work on a couple of sites. As those writings get posted, I’ll link to them from here. But, if you’re a seminarian, let me encourage you to follow these sites for my ideas and information on how to engage in seminary preparation, study, life, spirituality, and work well. Both of these sites are in the midst of a revitalization process, so expect some cosmetic looks in the weeks and months ahead. Let me know what you think! Here are the sites:
Check out all of my Going To Seminary posts.
I’ll be honest, one of the reasons why I love Lent and the Church Calendar is because it is a helpful corrective for my own personal lack of personal discipline. I’m not especially skilled at putting together my own structure, and so I really flourish when structure and pattern is placed on me from the outside.
This is especially true with spiritual practices. To engage with a Church season like Lent, I often need to give myself a blog series to keep me thinking on a theme for the season (see above, under “Lent Posts“, and also check out this year’s series). I really do well with reading plans, prayerbooks, music albums, etc. If you find yourself in the same boat, here are some resources for this year’s Lent that some of you may find helpful.
Hahaha. Must-read for people passionate about vaccines.
Encouraging an Informed Polity — I’m an Anti-Braker
My church recently bought our building in Center City Philadelphia. For the renovations, we just kicked off a campaign encouraging people to Pray, Serve, and Give towards this end. Michael Nutter, the mayor of Philadelphia caught wind of this, looked into our work in the city, and gave us a special message to welcome us into our new permanent home. You can watch the video below and also join us in our efforts to love our city well.
[image credit: Gene Smirnov for Philly Mag]
As part of my seminary program, I’m currently in an Urban Church Planting class. As an assignment, I’m supposed to ask you all:
What are some things you wish you had known before planting, or things you wish you had done differently?
A penny for your thoughts? Please also include your church’s name and your position there.
It’s Easter season. As is my practice, I’ve posted the Year A and Year B Easter Mixtapes to aid in your personal reflection and celebration in this season. You can find them at the link above or just click here: