Friday, September 10, 2010

Christianity in flames if Quran burns

Some advocates of the Church are clearly not humble enough to recognize that their reading of scripture and interpretation of the faith is in part. None of us have a complete and holistic theological viewpoint. The recent call to burn the Quran on the eve of 9/11 has rightly stirred condemnation worldwide. The brother concerned might not have read the beatitudes in awhile which in my book clearly advocates that we become peacemakers. Pastor Terry Jones, please we beg you not to go ahead with the burning of those Qurans. Jesus moved us away from an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” toward seeking no revenge but loving our neighbour and our enemy. In Christ the cycle of retribution is broken, may our religion not be the cause of more violence. For God’s sake. (Just heard as I send this blog that he has called it off - Thank Terry, you have done the right thing.)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Sheepy Seminarian’s

Yes, the Seth Mokitimi Seminary got me thinking about certain dynamics of education. The fear of being ‘institutionalized’ versus the ‘independent spirit.’ It no doubt has its roots in my own fear of being boxed into things I am not. I heard Lawrence Anthony speak yesterday in Howick. He wrote “Babylon Zoo” and the “Elephant whisperer.” His one comment was, “Why do we like to think out of the box? Isn’t it better to be out of the box?” So here are some more unboxed thoughts on the subject of Seminarian’s in training.

Yesterday I touched on seminarian life being born rather out of ‘Presence’ versus ‘Vision.’ This may tie in with the difference between being ‘Driven’ versus being ‘Called’. The ancient image of the shepherd and the butcher comes to mind. The butcher is behind the flock pushing them and the shepherd is leading them from the front. The latter shows a different attitude in the sheep. The sheep are happy to be in the presence of the Shepherd, who calls them by name and thus they follow even if they don’t know where. The former part of the illustration the sheep are disquieted and are being driven by forces unknown to places they don’t know. In both cases the myopic sheep are unaware of their destination but their temperament is different.
I think this is another model for ‘presence’ in seminarian education. The art of helping seminarians (what a word?) hear their names called rather than be driven and packaged into the ‘perfect’ seminarian. I have a feeling SMMS will help this process more than our previous models of education.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

How ought a seminary change us?

I knew a young man who came from a rural area who enrolled as a student at the Evangelical Seminary of Southern Africa. He walked into the library on his first day and wished he had never enrolled.  When asked why, he said, "If am expected to read all those books I will never succeed."  Could it be that an institution of spiritual learning could impede our spiritual formation by its overbearing presence? 

Watching the seminarian's at the grandiose opening of the 'Seth Mokhitimi Seminary' in Pietermaritzburg I wondered if they were traumatized or encouraged by the large edifice and monumental speeches.

Speaking from my own experience and no doubt far to Eurocentric.  We may loose our personal contribution as we are traumatized by corporate vision.  When we think that 'our becoming' demands we look like another product of the seminary we may loose our bearings.  If we think we ought to have the capabilities of all that is flaunted as 'expected' we may fade in its shadow. Our seminarian growth ought to flourish as we are joined together by 'Presence' rather than 'Vision".  This may seem heretical in today's language but "Presence" for me is the life throbbing dynamo we have with God through Christ, actualized by the fertilizing Spirit of God. When we speak about a 'Seminary' in my eyes we are speaking about a well-kept hothouse where this dynamo is nurtured carefully.  It is a place where all different plant DNA types are matured for their God created actualization. There is none alike, each cherished for what it can contribute to the function and beauty of the world.  It is not about being a Methodist or a Charismatic, a Church builder or a Pastor, an Artist or an Accountant exclusively. The power of encouragement grows us into the plants we are meant to be – nothing more and nothing less. Spiritual formation is discovering the boundaries. It may even lead us outside the confines of Methodism.  I had better stop there.    


(Seminary mid-15c., "plot where plants are raised from seeds," from L. seminarium "plant nursery," figuratively, "breeding ground," from seminarius "of seed," from semen (gen. seminis) "seed" (see semen). Meaning "school for training priests" first recorded 1580s; commonly used for any school (especially academies for young ladies) from 1580s to 1930s. Seminarian "seminary student" is attested from 1580s.)

Friday, September 03, 2010

Tell your story - come on...

A shared story is a doorway to freeing ourselves.  When we listen to the journey of another person it ignites the patterns of our own similar life experiences. We come to realize that our life's paths are not that dissimilar. Somehow in the mesh of swapped life experiences we embrace each other in a shared humanity.  The more honest our story telling the more it will resonate within the heart of another.  The Christian is a person born in stories, stories of how molecules aggregate to form species, how a nation crosses the deepest rivers to safety and freedom, how law and order ratifies a nation born, how a Creator's love never ceases and the story of a god-man who rested the worlds problems on his shoulders. From there on the story becomes our story and the Spirit that burned in the hearts of those early believers still swaps its stories with those who will listen.  Don't underestimate it.