Category Archives: Seminary

How not to live well.

A robust theology of creation has a bearing on our view of work, I think. Work is not in and of itself the result of the fall. I won’t get into the details of such a theology, but simply say that it results in an understanding of most work as good and profitable and in keeping with our design as human beings.

But conceptually, what does this work look like? Does it simply mean “work hard and do your work well”? What does “well” mean? I’m sitting here huddled in a study room in the library. I should be finishing an assignment–one of three technically due by next Tuesday–and I’m caught in a tension I’ve created for myself. It’s between wanting to do something well and recognizing that I cannot do it all.

Before I came to seminary, I was told by someone in our denomination not to worry about marks so much. That’s difficult for me. I feel like the grade I receive on a paper reflects whether or not I did the paper well and right.

I’ve also been told on a number of occasions by one professor at least that I should not read my books word-for-word. That’s also difficult for me. If I’m going to read something, it seems to me that I should read it all. But that can get me into trouble. Sometimes the reading never ends, but my time does.

There are some maxims that float around the seminary. “Sometimes finishing well means simply finishing” (or something like that). In terms of work (including study) as an act of worship and as a part of an integrated life that includes other things like family and physical needs, “Sometimes getting an A on an assignment means getting a B from the Lord.” They might sound like trite platitudes, but they are true in many respects. Because doing something well is something much more holistic than simply getting a good grade or creating the best product or learning the most stuff. Life isn’t a compartmentalized thing, made up of individual units that can be measured in isolation from the others. My family life factors in to doing school well. So does my spiritual life. I may get A’s (As?) in my classes, but I’m not always (ever?) getting A’s in terms of a well-integrated life.

What this means is that sometimes simply getting things done is more important than doing that thing as well as possible. At least, “as well as possible” can only be measured truthfully in relation to every other aspect of my life. To measure my best for something in isolation from the other aspects of life is to create impossible expectations for myself, because my best in this sense–that is, any one thing in isolation–will always crowd out everything else.

And that, friends, is not how we live well.

Miscellaneous Musings

After two years, I have finally figured out why I have been blogging a lot less since entering seminary. My blogging was already on the wane prior to our move, but I had expected the intellectual stimulation of the seminary classroom to fuel the proverbial fires of this blog. That did not happen.

What I didn’t account for was this: seminary friends. And not just any seminary friends, but seminary friends who enjoy few things as much as discussing theology, to the point that almost anything we do together (such as a poker night) inevitably turns into a theological discussion.

The discussion I would normally try to generate on this blog, I am now having in the seminary classrooms, hallways, and in my home. I therefore feel less inclined to post my thoughts here.

This has made me realize that in this respect seminary is certainly a bubble. Nowhere else will I find so many people interested in which theological book I’m reading, or what Barth or Bonhoeffer or Wright has to say about something. I suspect I will be in for a sort of “culture shock” once I’m finished here. I expect my blogging volume will increase correspondingly.

* * *

There was a time when I thought “best of” and “favourite” lists were fun exercises. “Best album of the 90s”; “Favourite albums of all time”; “5 Desert Island Books”; etc. I am now at the point where I usually think this is a useless exercise, because the details of those lists change almost weekly, depending on mood and current taste.

It occurred to me, however, that a more objective approach to this list business is the “25 Most Played” feature on my iPod. I got quite excited about the potential results–what are my favourites based on actual frequency played rather than on nostalgia (which allows a favourite even if the CD hasn’t been played in years).

Last night I checked my iPod’s stats and was sorely disappointed in the results. Of course I should have expected this.

#1: “Grace and Peace” by Fernando Ortega, which we wake up to every morning.

The other 24 were the songs, sometimes duplicate, from the Barenaked Ladies’ children’s album, Snacktime, which Olivia goes to sleep to almost every night.

Alas.

* * *

I sometimes come up with strange ideas, ideas which probably seemed hilarious or brilliant (or both) at the time, but now seem more embarrassing than anything.

Consider, for instance, a note I wrote some years ago, presumably as an idea for a possible blog post. Dixie found it this morning as she was cleaning out some clutter. It was in a small box filled with notes and old receipts which we for some reason thought necessary to bring with us on our move to Manitoba.

I don’t know how long ago I wrote this, but here it is:

What would a world of uninhibited flatulence be like? A world in which we could fart freely, without embarrassment or fear of social recriminations? A world in which Dutch ovens would be given as loving gifts

Bizarre.

Islam and Current Events

Today was the first day of a week-long class called “Islam and Current Events” (interesting timing with the death of Osama bin Laden). It was very stimulating. The professor (Dr. Nabeel Jabbour–from off-campus) noted that there are two sides of the coin in terms of what is presented regarding Islam and the Middle East. Muslims get one side; the West gets another. One of the aims of the course is for us to get the side we don’t normally hear.

Joel noted accurately that pretty much everything he said today is new material. It was all very interesting, but what was of particular interest to me was trying to understand Islam from a Muslim point-of-view.

Christians normally approach the topic with what they assume is a direct-correspondence approach: compare our guy and their guy, our scriptures and their scriptures. They have Muhammad, we have Jesus; they have the Qur’an, we have the Bible. We make the connections, assuming their figure and scripture are analogous to ours, and think we understand Islam.

Dr. Jabbour argued that this kind of comparison does not, in fact, work to understand Islam. Christians won’t understand Islam if they assume the same thing about Muhammad and the Qur’an as Christians do about Jesus and the Bible. It’s not simply a matter of saying, the Qur’an is their authoritative book, just like the Bible is our authoritative book.

In fact, the comparisons that work–that is, the views that we could say are analogous between the two religions–are quite unexpected. Here are the main ones we discussed:

1. We  cannot directly compare Jesus and Muhammad. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal, uncreated word of God. Muslims believe nothing of the sort about Muhammad. In Islam, the closest analogy to Jesus is actually the Qur’an, which they believe is the eternal, uncreated word of God.

2. The closest analogy for Muslim belief about Muhammad is Mary, the mother of Jesus. Both Mary and Muhammad are believed to be passive receivers of the eternal, uncreated word of God–Jesus Christ and the Qur’an, respectively. Mary was a virgin, meaning that Jesus wasn’t simply the result of normal reproductive means. Similarly, Muhammad was illiterate, meaning that he did not just record the words of the Qur’an on his own. Mary was miraculously pregnant; Muhammad received the word of God by dictation, which his photographic memory retained rather like a tape recorder. Both have historically been venerated.

(I’m not interested in discussing critiques of the virgin birth or the dictation theory of the Qur’an. I’m simply highlighting the proper belief-comparison as discussed in class.)

3. The Bible and the Qur’an are not directly comparable either. The 10 Commandments would perhaps be comparable, because they are believed to have been dictated (actually inscribed) by God. Historically, however, Christians have not officially believed in a dictation theory of the Bible (divine inspiration and dictation are not the same thing). The Qur’an, by contrast, is believed by Muslims to have been dictated by God (through the angel Gabriel), so that it is the direct word of God.

The best analogy for the Bible in Islam, then, is their books on the life and teaching of Muhammad. Muhammad made a distinction between the dictated revelations he received and his own teachings, much like Catholics make a distinction between the pope’s ex cathedra statements and his other teachings. The professor didn’t say whether Muslims consider Muhammad’s non-dictated teachings authoritative, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they do.

So, an interesting lesson. It won’t do to simply compare Jesus and Muhammad or the Bible and the Qur’an. The proper analogies are, in fact,

  • The Qur’an and Jesus
  • Muhammad and Mary
  • The Bible and books about Muhammad’s life and teachings

Fascinating stuff.

Summer reading and such

I didn’t plan to give up blogging for Lent. It just sort of turned out that way. Aaaaaand my readership continues to slip away…

I handed in my last paper of the semester yesterday. Now I start thinking about the reading I need to do for the two classes I’m taking in May.

Tonight is the seminary grad banquet. Neither of us is graduating, but we’re going to the banquet. I am winning some kind of award (it’s an honour just to be nominated!). Tomorrow morning we leave for a 6-day stint at Elkhorn Lodge or some-such, a resort north of Neepewa and on the edge of Riding Mountain National Park. It’ll be the Vandersluys’s plus another friend, then a few days later that friend and his wife, and then a few days later another couple friend. It should be good times. I hope. Let’s be honest: the kids a kind of the wildcard here. But there’s a pool and possible horseback riding and hikes.

But after that, after the getaway and the classes in may, I will read what I want to read.

What I think I can reasonably finish in the summer:

Theology:

  • N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God
  • Karl Barth, Evangelical Theology: An Introduction
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship
  • Thomas Halik, Patience with God: The Story of Zacchaeus Continuing in Us
  • H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture
  • C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
  • Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places

Biography:

  • Eric Mataxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

Fiction:

  • Gavin’s sermon from a couple of weeks ago inspired me to pick up Three by Flannery O’Connor again and read at least The Violent Bear it Away
  • I’d like to have a second go at Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude.
  • Something else by Graham Greene.

Maybe this list isn’t reasonable for me to finish. All of these books will be beneficial reads, but I think now of the books I would benefit from practically by reading them this summer, such a s William Willimon’s Pastoral Theology (a text for a Winter 2012 course) and something on spiritual direction. Plus I need to re-learn Greek over the summer in preparation for the school year.

Let’s be honest: this reading list looks almost nothing like I will actually read this summer.

Changes in education?

At his blog, Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight recently began a series of posts on a book examining changes in U.S. higher education.  One particular statistic he noted stood out to me:

First, students. Here is a set of facts: From the 1920s to the 1960s full-time college/university students spent approximately 40 hours in academic pursuits — classes and study. Today the students spend 27 hours. That means about 13 hours a week studying. Prior to the 60s it was about 25 hours.

This diminution of time has resulted in no appreciative change in grade point average or upon progress toward completion of the degree.

I should note that at least two of my professors, if not more, have told us that courses are designed around the idea that for every one hour of class time, we spend two hours studying. For one class that’s an additional 6 hours of work, for a total of 9 hours per class. With a full schedule of 5 classes, that adds up to 40 hours per week. So the expectation or standard has not changed, at least not here, but habits have.

I’ve never actually calculated time spent studying outside of class time, so it may well be that I’m meeting expectations, but I suspect not. It’s not easy to do with 3 children and a spouse who is a part-time student as well. I’m sure this wasn’t any different prior to the 60s, but still.

I sometimes wonder if I’m short-changing myself in my education if I don’t use the full 40 hours every week, even if it is to some degree out of my control. On the other hand, it occurs to me that the nature and focus of education is changing. In the face of increasing availability of resources and information, this change might be necessary.

It seems to me that in many respects education is shifting to a focus on laying the foundations and preparing students to use the resources available to them for help. This may not sound any different than the past, but I’m suggesting something slightly different than “learning to do research”. This arises out of my experience learning the Biblical languages, so perhaps my theory applies only in that context.

At least two of my language professors have made a point of saying that there’s no sense in going the long way around learning the Biblical languages if there are shorter, easier ways available. This might sound like the lazy approach, so hear me out.  30 years ago, my language professors would have been required to learn many individual and unusual verb forms for Greek and Hebrew, and they would have been required to memorize the meanings of many hundreds of words. When translating, they would spend much time trying to figure out what word X was and then more time leafing through a lexicon to find out how it’s used. Once they found the meaning(s), they would be expected to memorize them.

These same professors are not insisting on the same rigour in their own students. Why? Because there are many affordable resources available to make the process of translating and interpreting the text much easier–many of them available online. Their theory is that it’s better to get on with the business of reading and enjoying the text and thereby learning the languages, instead of getting bogged down in the work leading up to that.

Is this a good or bad development? I don’t know. It certainly seems to make the learning experience that much more enjoyable. And, quite frankly, it doesn’t make much sense to spend hours memorizing paradigms when the parsing of various verbs is available online at the click of a button or in books organized by chapter and verse. Granted, the hard prep-work may make for a faster progression to smooth and direct reading of biblical Hebrew and Greek, but that kind of reading will presumably come over time anyway.

Whether this applies to teaching and learning outside of the languages, I don’t know.

My issue with the NLT

From what I hear, the New Living Translation (NLT) is slowly gaining respect as a legitimate, “authoritative” translation for use in study. The release of the NLT Study Bible, which gets very positive reviews, has probably helped. I certainly commend it as a very readable translation and have been using it more lately than before. Gus Konkel, president of the college and seminary and one of the NLT translators, has said that the quality of a translation should be judged by how well it achieves its aims (so read your Bible introductions). The NLT, which he has said (as I recall) aims to make what the author is saying as clear as possible, minimizing the questions which will arise out of reading, certainly in my experience is successful in this respect.

But how far should this be taken? I remember several years ago my brother saying that the NLT editorializes too much, and every so often I run into a verse that reads completely differently than I have ever read it. This, I suppose, is as a result of the translators trying to bring clarity to the text. For example, last night I was reading John 1 in the NLT and I came across this in verse 51:

Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” (NLT)

The final clause, “the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth”, does not appear anywhere in the Greek text. The Greek text ends with “Son of Man”; from what I can tell, everything that follows in the NLT is explanatory text, to clear up the meaning of the imagery of heaven opening and angels ascending and descending.

My question is, does this kind of material rightly belong in the body of the text, implying that this is what the author said, or should it go in the footnotes, thus clearing up (at least from the translator’s/editor’s perspective) the textual questions while keeping the explanation separate from the text? My vote is for footnotes.

I realize that I need to be careful here, knowing that in translating from Hebrew or Greek to English, sometimes words–such as “is”–need to be added in order to make the English make sense, and I’m certainly don’t think that a woodenly literal approach to translation is the best approach. However, adding an entire clause seems to me to take this to an extreme.

What do you think?

(When Dixie saw me writing this, she said, “Are you trying to scare people away from your blog?” I am not. And neither is this a “big deal”. It’s simply something interesting I noted in the text. Though I suppose it is a question of translation ethics, if there is such a thing.)

School and work-related epiphany

Hi blog and readers. I continue to neglect you. We’ve actually had little to no internet availability at home since last Friday. But that has been good. I’m more productive when I’m not checking Facebook for 20 minutes every half hour or so.

The end is in sight. I preach on Hebrews 13 in class tomorrow and, as usual, am dissatisfied with what I have prepared so far and will continue to feel this way, no matter how many times I revise. After that I have to write an analysis of Ruth 4:13-17, with focus on Hebrew narrative sequence, theology, and the editor’s textual notes in Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (the critical Hebrew text on which modern translations are based), masora parva (marginal textual notes added by the Masoretes in the Middle Ages). The paper is kind of like a commentary on the text, but it’s not supposed to look like a commentary. I have never written a paper like this and have no clue how to put something like this together in prose format. Then I have a short interaction with an article to write. And then on the weekend I will write the final paper for my Old Testament Text and Interpretation class.

That may sound like a lot, but I can see the end and it seems manageable.

My epiphany:

The courses offered at the seminary have varying degrees of difficulty. Some assignments require an enormous amount of work to complete and others can be completed quickly and with ease. Since starting seminary I have felt two things about the “easier” courses.  First,I have felt like the “easier” courses were short-changing me on my education. While I do think that some of the courses could use improvement or a slightly altered focus, I have come to realize that it is not an unrealistic expectation for a professor to have that I will supplement my course readings and assignments with additional material. No professor has vocalized such an expectation, so it may not actually exist. What is nevertheless important for me to recognize is that to some degree I make the course experience as valuable as I make it. If I choose to simply dash off the “easy” assignments without much thought, because I know I’ll get a good grade anyway, the loss of learning is my own fault, not, for the most part, the professor’s. Seminary is, in some senses, only a starting place, a foundation for life-long theological and pastoral reflection.

That actually isn’t my epiphany, but a lead up  to it. My epiphany, which came to me this afternoon, is this:

The second thing I have felt about the “easy” seminary courses is guilt over the relatively little time I spend on completing assignments. I don’t know if this is what people mean when they refer to the “Protestant work ethic,” but somehow it is ingrained in my head that only assignments into which I have poured blood, sweat, and tears are valuable and worthwhile doing.

If I get a good grade on a difficult assignment, all is well and good. However, when I get a good grade on an assignment which was easy to complete, I feel some degree of guilt, because it feels like the easy papers don’t deserve good grades.

It occurred to me today, however, that this isn’t simply a question of difficult papers being more deserving. What that perspective neglects to factor in is that my brain may well function better in different assignment contexts. If I recognize that some assignments are easier simply because my brain is better able to process them, then suddenly a paper can both be easy and quick to write and of a quality deserving a good grade.

This may not seem like something worth the term “epiphany”, but it makes a huge difference to the perspective I have of my own work and relieves a whole lot of unnecessary guilt.

It’s that time of year again.

By which I mean Birthdadventresearchpaperismas. It warms the cockles of my heart.

Today is my birthday. Unfortunately, as a student my birthday always falls on one of the most stressful parts of the year. Papers due and such.

Here is what I did today:

  • 7:01a.m. – 8:10a.m. – Get up, shower, have breakfast, open gifts, hug my children, kiss my wife.
  • 8:10a.m.-8:30a.m. – walk Madeline to the bus, walk to class.
  • 8:30a.m.-11:30a.m. – Listened to five different 20 minute sermons, evaluated 2 of them, and discussed them all.
  • 11:30-1:10 – lunch, settle the kids for naps.
  • 1:10-1:30 – read through the section on Hebrews 13 in N.T. Wright’s For Everyone series commentary on the book.
  • 1:30-1:40 – catnap
  • 1:40-3:30 – summarized 3 out of 9 chapters of The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind for a book review due on Friday. I hate summarizing. It is slow, plodding work, particularly because I am going by my underlining in the book, rather than a separate set of notes.
  • 3:30 – 4:30 – give kids snack; wander; type very little; make tea
  • 4:30 – 4:45 – unknown
  • 4:45 – 5:30 – Play Wii with Luke (we borrowed a Wii from friends to see if we should get one.  Answer: no, we should not.)
  • 5:30 – 6:20 – supper (boerenkol)
  • 6:20 – 6:50 – watched an episode of Corner Gas with the kids while eating dessert (home-made apple pie and ice cream). Intermittent fielding of phone calls from family.
  • 6:50 until now – write blog post.
  • This evening: Alas, more summarizing of the book.

Also, December 12 (4 days from now) will mark 7 years of blogging. Not sure if I’ll post that day or not.

At some point I plan on mentioning my favourite books of the year. I’ve read more books this year than any other year in history. I’m at 35 books for the year, plus a skimmed book as well as who knows how many articles (at least a book’s worth).  There were some real good’ns amongst the books I read. I was thinking of posting them now, but I think I’ll wait for another day.

One of my birthday gifts was Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which I think I may read over the Christmas break. It may turn out to be a favourite.

A throw-away post to hold you over until next time.

I will survive. Right? I will, won’t I?

Another apology for my lack of blogging is coming your way, dear readers. It frustrates me more than anyone. I’d love to have the inspiration, time and energy to write in this space every day.

A combination of program requirements and my own wishes in terms of study focus led to a semester of 5 classes. This is technically the rate at which a person is to finish an M.Div. in the alloted 3 years. I had hoped to be able to take a maximum of 4 classes per semester by supplementing my regular semester classes with May week-long courses. I still plan on supplementing, but this semester I had to take five classes anyway.

It gets tricker to fit in the required courses with each year I advance in this degree. Not only do I have requirements to worry about, but I also want to take all the Hebrew and Greek classes I can, which means some of my biblical studies electives, normally used for, say, a class on one of the gospels or Romans, will be used for languages. I insist on taking all the Greek and Hebrew I can because I can see myself reading books on Luke or Romans outside of the seminary setting, whereas I cannot see myself picking up a Hebrew or Greek grammar for intensive study on my own time. This, in turn, narrows my options for elective and required courses, making class scheduling each semester that much trickier. (Only 1 required course not taken out of some 25 is available next semester.)

But I digress.

This semester has been good, but busy. On top of an unusually high amount of reading and papers, I regularly lose almost an entire weekday of potential study time in order to fulfill the practical requirements (visitation) of one of my pastoral classes. I do enjoy this time and wouldn’t change it, but I sometimes wonder how much difference one extra day of study and reading could make.  (If I’m honest with myself, it wouldn’t make much difference at all, given my work habits.)

Today I had another look at the syllabi for next semester’s classes. They’re all pretty much sorted out (there will be only 4 of them, for one), but I have to make a choice between two theology electives: either “Being Human” or “New Testament Theology”. I’m leaning more towards New Testament Theology, because I’m thinking that it might be a good thing for me to spend more time in the biblical texts themselves, rather than exploring a more general theology. The problem, however, is that the New Testament Theology class is heavy on reading.  The required reading includes the entire New Testament and a nearly 600-page theology textbook, among other things. This will all be beneficial to me, I think, but it also means fewer assignments worth a larger portion of the final grade, which means a smaller margin for sloppiness/error/just getting the dang paper done.

Looking at next semester’s syllabi hasn’t helped my stress levels at all. I’ve got 13 assignments and papers of varying difficulty to complete by December 17. That’s stress enough. I shouldn’t add the stress of next semester on to current stress. I’m nearly at the point of I-don’t-care-anymore-I-just-want-to-finish-this, which isn’t a good place to be, in my mind. Marks aren’t everything, of course, but in this work mode learning suffers as well.

What this means, though, is that, if I’m smart, over Christmas I will not do much “free reading”, but read ahead for class. So much for Barth’s Dogmatics in Outline, Brueggeman’s The Prophetic Imagination, Peterson’s Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer, or possibly getting through a good chunk of The New Testament and the People of God. The funny thing is that yesterday I thought to myself that it might be more profitable for me to not read more books and novels, but just read the Bible for a while. Maybe that should tell me something, I suppose.

Alas, it also means less time to write here.

And so, friends, one day I will tell you more about our trip to England and maybe something cool Miroslav Volf said about faith in Free of Charge. But not today.

And now the school year can begin.

I’m the seminary chapel coordinator this year.  That may sound like a big deal, but it’s not, really. The majority of my role is simply to lead chapels, make sure that there is music and someone to read scripture. Speaker scheduling is done by someone else.  My biggest responsibility, however, is planning day of prayer (which is technically 3 hours of prayer, but never mind).

Day of prayer is finished now.  It was a good day. A really good day.

But what a lot of preparatory work! I’ve been able to focus on little else since the school year started. I’m a little behind in reading and I have some assignments due on Friday.

The lesson learned (or re-learned) in all this is that I can’t please everyone.  This is a lesson that needs to be hammered home to me, because I want to make everyone happy.  That wasn’t what the day was about, of course, but in preparation I wanted to be sensitive to the variety of people we have in our school.

Let me get specific. The day was structured around the Lord’s Prayer and for the portion related to “Forgive us our sins…”, I thought communion would be appropriate.  I asked a professor here who was recently ordained to the Anglican priesthood to preside over the service. I didn’t know at the time that his vows gave him liturgical boundaries, which meant that he would have to use the Anglican eucharistic liturgy.  This was actually quite fitting–I was already borrowing material from the Book of Alternative Services before I asked him, and the day included a variety of responsive prayers and scripture readings.

But here was the issue: the priest preferred to serve wine in a common cup.  We are an interdenominational school and so there are a variety of approaches to and opinions about communion.  It may just be the vestiges of my upbringing in a conservative community of (theoretically) teetotalers, but I was sensitive to the possibility of some people attending the day of prayer might be offended by the use of wine.

So I spent much mental energy coming up with an approach that could include both wine and juice as an alternative, without creating an ideological divide at the ceremony (and undoing one of the central elements of the Eucharist).  After further discussion with the priest, he reminded me that to be truly interdenominational (which our seminary is) is not to pretend that all the church traditions are the same and therefore make up a sort of hybrid communion service that covers all the denominational bases (e.g. wine and juice); neither is it to resort to the lowest common denominator and just go with the least potential to offend (e.g. juice only).  Instead, to be truly interdenominational means to respect recognize each tradition for what it is and what it offers.

There is no position here which does not have the potential to offend. As my brother noted, to some traditions a communion service that serves juice isn’t much of a communion service at all.  (And, quite frankly, there is nothing about the Eucharist that says that cannot or should not offend. The very nature of the Eucharist and its liturgy is offensive in some sense–sin, the need for forgiveness, etc.)

So we went with the full-on Anglican Eucharist–common cup, wine and all.  We are an interdenominational school, I said today, and we have a growing number of faculty and students who are Anglican, so today we will have an Anglican communion service.

There are a number of other ways  to look at the situation. For instance, one could say that we are an interdenominational school and this day of prayer is not an Anglican day of prayer and so we should have a communion service in which everyone can partake of the elements in good conscience.  This a valid approach, but no more valid that the “truly interdenominational” approach that we went with.

Others might say that we should go with the juice for the sake of the “weaker brother or sister” of which the Apostle Paul writes.  But this is not, in my estimation, a “weaker brother” situation.

So we had an Anglican communion service as a part of our day of prayer, and it was very good. I don’t think we had anyone not participate in some way–apparently one person abstained from taking the elements, but came up for a blessing.

In the end, I think this was more an issue with me than anyone else.  I am not a teetotaler, but I had to wrestle with the notion of how to approach this potentially sensitive issue as well as with my own concerns about “what people might think.”

Next semester I will be planning another day of prayer, and we will likely do something different again.

It was a very good day.

And now I can start thinking about assignments again.  And hope and pray that I don’t crash and get really sick.