Wednesday, March 29, 2006

young & in ministry?

I've recently been reading's article about the lack of young people coming into ministry.
[Read story]

What makes for this decline? One answer is presented in a recent New York Times article, featuring some of our colleagues from Candler. [Read this story, registration required]

One possible approach is presented by Melissa Wiginton, a VP at The Fund for Theological Education, in a lecture from 2003. [Read the lecture] We were both at the original presentation which Melissa refers to in this article, and I found it quite compelling. If anyone actually reads our blog :) perhaps you'd like to comment on the interaction between these interacting stories and reports?

Juan, I think this matches up with some of the questions we've been asking about vocation, ordination, ministry, and the church.

Monday, March 13, 2006

On a lighter note and other thoughts

I am glad that the World Baseball Classic is going on. Although I have not watched any of it I think is an excellent idea. The fact that Cuba is participating makes it even better. I of course am loyal to my country of birth Puerto Rico. Although it would not be bad if another Latin American country won. I recently heard a commentator complaining about non-americans taking over baseball. I found his comments bordering on bigotry for I believe that sports can have a powerful uniting effect on the nations of the world. We'll see who wins.

On another note. I have been thinking much about commissioning and ordination. Here I am playing with Lathrops idea of the tension between local and universal. Here is my spin. Maybe in United Methodism we have the perfect example of this tension. Commissioning is connected to the local United Methodist ministry. This means that those of us who are commissioned are on a period of service to the United Methodist Church specifically. In living out our vocation locally the church tests our gifts, graces, and fruit of ministry for the universal ministry (i.e. catholic ministry) of the ordained. Commissioned ministry is not related to ordination in general but it is related to United Methodist ordering of ministry that attempts to balance the missional necessities of the church (local expressions) with the importance of catholicity.

I will expand on this soon. I just got home from work and am ready to crash.

on a lighter note....

How about that World Baseball Classic? Juan, I assume you're cheering on Puerto Rico, and I am, of course rooting for Team USA (go Brad Lidge!)...although the Dominican Republic is looking mighty good, too. I'm glad Cuba not only got the US State Department's permission to play, but have advanced as well: perhaps baseball can begin to bridge some of our considerable differences.

So, who will advance to the semifinals?? My picks are Puerto Rico & the Dominican Republic in Pool 2, and USA and Japan probably in Pool 1. But Venezuela and South Korea might be the dark horse picks in each pool respectively.

Anyway, I'm excited to see how this plays out...and especially how it impacts the regular MLB season. How Clemens feels afterwards will probably affect how my beloved Astros do. So here's to the Rocket staying in Houston and feeling good!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Creativity and Activity

In one of my previous posts, "Activity redux," I made this statement:

Moreover, God made human beings and all creation not because it was an elective pursuit which brings pleasure (hedonistic or otherwise)--God makes because that is God's nature to do so. God so overflows with love, care, and creativity that it would be a travesty NOT to create. Out of the rich abundance of the inner divine life (the community of the Trinity, if you will), space is made by the omnipotent, omnipresent God for something uniquely Other to take shape.
As I have been reading through Miroslav Volf's new book, Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace, I found that he had addressed the very subject I was concerned about in a much more attentive and sophisticated way. Apparently my contention that it is embedded in God's nature to create, was argued by neo-Platonist philosopher Plotinus. Volf contends that Plotinus treats God as an "it" not as an "I," and that Christians presume God to be a subject, rather than an object, and therefore self-determined.

Volf continues:

Being self-determined cannot be the whole story of divine freedom, however. For then God's freedom would be arbitrary. God would decide this rather than that for no other reason than the inscrutability of divine will. If God were free to create in this way, creation would be as arbitrary as if God flipped a coin to decide whether to create or not.... God's giving is not a whim, however. God gives as creator when the plentitude of divine love turns away from itself toward the nothingness of non-being.... To be moved by oneself in love is to be divinely free. Moved by oneself, one is not compelled; directed by love, one is not whimsical. (p 64)

This is where I think Rick Warren misses the point. Rather than "made for God's pleasure," we are "made from God's love." God's love is what moves (if not compels) God to be in relationship with something that is distinctly Other than the divine self, the Trinity. So though I perhaps was a bit too neo-Platonist for my comfort (or Volf's), I don't think I was entirely incorrect.

The difference is between the gentle persuasion of a lover and the compulsion of a tyrant. "Moved by oneself, one is not compelled; directed by love, one is not whimsical." Thank God we share a life with One who is neither compulsory nor whimsical, but love.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Lent in Protestantism

I am still amazed at the growth of liturgical renewal. As a liturgically inclined United Methodist I become frustrated often. I would like our church to become more faithful to our liturgical tradition. Yet when I talk to earlier generations of pastors they all tell me how far we have moved towards the liturgical tradition in the last 30 years. The article regarding Lenten practice in protestantism is an example of this move.

My question now is: Where now? Liturgical practice is now becoming part of churches that traditionally had rejected anything "liturgical." What does it mean that they are embracing some aspects of the liturgical tradition? Where do we, as decendants of a liturgical tradition, take the movement?

It seems to me that although we have become "more liturgical" we have not allowed the liturgy to become formational. In other words the idea of lex orandi lex credendi is not the case in many parts of the liturgical church.

Is this the case? What can we do to allow our congregations to be formed through liturgy? What do you think?

More later.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006