Monday, June 30, 2008

Aftershocks of Postmodernism


The Aftershocks of Postmodernism in Our Leadership
By Dr. John C. Maxwell



I think about that as I look at what’s happened in the church. I think there are some aftershocks of the Postmodern movement that we need to be aware of. But before I take you into some of these aftershocks, let me go back to the “earthquake” itself: the shift from Modernism to Postmodernism. A lot changed in our culture and in the church during that shift:



  1. We went from humanism, where we’re the masters of our fate, to fatalism, wherein we have no control over what happens.

  2. We went from rationalism to relativism—a movement from truth as absolute to truth is relative, and we each have our own realities.

  3. We went from science being the ultimate that will deliver us, to technology, where applications exist to serve our needs.

  4. We went from enlightenment to narrative. It’s a shift from, “I want the facts,” to “Give me a story; paint a picture for me.”

  5. We went from universal right and wrong, what I call “self evident ethics,” to tolerance, in which everyone is tolerant of everyone else’s values.

  6. We went from materialism to spiritualism, from a mindset of believing only in what we can see, to a sense of mysticism in which we believe in invisible realities.

  7. We went from individualism, that self-made man persona, to community, being focused more on teamwork and family.

Aftershock #1: We’ve gone from Duplication to Integration.


Aftershock #2: We have gone from Achievement to Learning.


Aftershock #3: We moved from Industry to Individuals.


Aftershock #4: We have gone from Scarcity to Abundance.


Aftershock #5: We’ve had a shift from Consumerism to Stewardship.


read more



Aftershocks of Postmodernism


The Aftershocks of Postmodernism in Our Leadership
By Dr. John C. Maxwell



I think about that as I look at what’s happened in the church. I think there are some aftershocks of the Postmodern movement that we need to be aware of. But before I take you into some of these aftershocks, let me go back to the “earthquake” itself: the shift from Modernism to Postmodernism. A lot changed in our culture and in the church during that shift:



  1. We went from humanism, where we’re the masters of our fate, to fatalism, wherein we have no control over what happens.

  2. We went from rationalism to relativism—a movement from truth as absolute to truth is relative, and we each have our own realities.

  3. We went from science being the ultimate that will deliver us, to technology, where applications exist to serve our needs.

  4. We went from enlightenment to narrative. It’s a shift from, “I want the facts,” to “Give me a story; paint a picture for me.”

  5. We went from universal right and wrong, what I call “self evident ethics,” to tolerance, in which everyone is tolerant of everyone else’s values.

  6. We went from materialism to spiritualism, from a mindset of believing only in what we can see, to a sense of mysticism in which we believe in invisible realities.

  7. We went from individualism, that self-made man persona, to community, being focused more on teamwork and family.

Aftershock #1: We’ve gone from Duplication to Integration.


Aftershock #2: We have gone from Achievement to Learning.


Aftershock #3: We moved from Industry to Individuals.


Aftershock #4: We have gone from Scarcity to Abundance.


Aftershock #5: We’ve had a shift from Consumerism to Stewardship.


read more



An Interview with Arthur C. Clarke


Sentinels: Arthur C. Clarke


The late, great science-fiction Grand Master—who gave us both 2001: A Space Odyssey and Childhood's End—looks back on a lifetime of colleagues and friends in a never-before-seen interview originally conducted in ... 2001.


read interview


my tribute, Goodbye Sir, Arthur C . Clarke

An Interview with Arthur C. Clarke


Sentinels: Arthur C. Clarke


The late, great science-fiction Grand Master—who gave us both 2001: A Space Odyssey and Childhood's End—looks back on a lifetime of colleagues and friends in a never-before-seen interview originally conducted in ... 2001.


read interview


my tribute, Goodbye Sir, Arthur C . Clarke

Illness and the Human Psyche




Yet deep in our psyche (soul, mind, spirit), we know the truth. We live in a fallen world where death and decay reign supreme. In spite of all our medical and technological advances, we barely extend our death rate over the biblical three score and ten. Those who do so often live with severe limitations and poor quality of life. Dylan Thomas underscores our fight against our mortality by writing:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


read more
.

Illness and the Human Psyche




Yet deep in our psyche (soul, mind, spirit), we know the truth. We live in a fallen world where death and decay reign supreme. In spite of all our medical and technological advances, we barely extend our death rate over the biblical three score and ten. Those who do so often live with severe limitations and poor quality of life. Dylan Thomas underscores our fight against our mortality by writing:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


read more
.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Destined to Die- The movie WANTED

Wanted


[warning: contain spoilers]

Synopsis
Wesley Gibson. 25-year-old Wes (James McAvoy) was the most disaffected, cube-dwelling drone the planet had ever known. Until he met a woman named Fox (Angelina Jolie). After his estranged father is murdered, the deadly sexy Fox recruits Wes into the Fraternity, a secret society that trains Wes to avenge his dad’s death by unlocking his dormant powers. As she teaches him how to develop lightning-quick reflexes and phenomenal agility, Wes discovers this team lives by an ancient, unbreakable code: carry out the death orders given by fate itself. With wickedly brilliant tutors—including the Fraternity’s enigmatic leader, Sloan (Morgan Freeman)—Wes grows to enjoy all the strength he ever wanted. But, slowly, he begins to realize there is more to his dangerous associates than meets the eye. And as he wavers between newfound heroism and vengeance, Wes will come to learn what no one could ever teach him: he alone controls his destiny. --© Universal Pictures more


Members of the Fraternity are fantastic assassins, highly skilled in the martial arts and even makes their bullets turn corner! This movie is a fantasy fusion of The Assassins, The Da Vinci Code and many of the Hong Kong kungfu fighting movies. The Fraternity lives by a code: they are given targets and they have to terminate their targets. No questions asked. No reason given except that their targets were chosen by Fate. This is where it gets interesting; apparently the founders of the assassin cult were originally weavers and found hidden names in their weaving. This were to be the name of people who were to be eliminated. Reminds me of the Fates in Greek mythology who weave a tapestry of life and may change a person's destiny by adding or snipping a thread. Wesley was told that The Fraternity is there to keep balance in the civilisation. "We don't know how far the ripples of our actions go," says Fox, justifying their action "Kill one, maybe save a thousand."

The movie is extremely violent with gunfire, car crashes, train crash, slashing with knives, and scenes of people beating each other up. There were explosions. It is an entertaining fast paced action adventure movie with lots of of violent sound effects.

The idea of a balance in civilisation maintained by killing of people who has the potential to disrupt it is intriguing. This is not removal after a person has done damage but before he or she can do damage. This is preemptive strike by a death squad. It is similar in concept with Minority Report without Tom Cruise's irritating smile.

What happens, I wonder, if God forms a death squad to remove persons who have the potential to harm society- like Hilter, Stalin, Mao or Idi Amin? Assassinate them before they have the opportunity to do damage. Wouldn't that be a great idea? It will save millions of human lives. Why not?


I guess this is because many of us have a simplistic view of violence and evil. We assume the guilt lies only in the person who kills or murder. Unfortunately, the root of evil lies deeper than single person. It also lies in human culture, governments and societies which the Bible refers to as powers and principalities. One may assassinate Hilter before he became Fuhrer but another will likely to arise and take his place.



Interesting thought from an interesting movie though.


Destined to Die- The movie WANTED

Wanted


[warning: contain spoilers]

Synopsis
Wesley Gibson. 25-year-old Wes (James McAvoy) was the most disaffected, cube-dwelling drone the planet had ever known. Until he met a woman named Fox (Angelina Jolie). After his estranged father is murdered, the deadly sexy Fox recruits Wes into the Fraternity, a secret society that trains Wes to avenge his dad’s death by unlocking his dormant powers. As she teaches him how to develop lightning-quick reflexes and phenomenal agility, Wes discovers this team lives by an ancient, unbreakable code: carry out the death orders given by fate itself. With wickedly brilliant tutors—including the Fraternity’s enigmatic leader, Sloan (Morgan Freeman)—Wes grows to enjoy all the strength he ever wanted. But, slowly, he begins to realize there is more to his dangerous associates than meets the eye. And as he wavers between newfound heroism and vengeance, Wes will come to learn what no one could ever teach him: he alone controls his destiny. --© Universal Pictures more


Members of the Fraternity are fantastic assassins, highly skilled in the martial arts and even makes their bullets turn corner! This movie is a fantasy fusion of The Assassins, The Da Vinci Code and many of the Hong Kong kungfu fighting movies. The Fraternity lives by a code: they are given targets and they have to terminate their targets. No questions asked. No reason given except that their targets were chosen by Fate. This is where it gets interesting; apparently the founders of the assassin cult were originally weavers and found hidden names in their weaving. This were to be the name of people who were to be eliminated. Reminds me of the Fates in Greek mythology who weave a tapestry of life and may change a person's destiny by adding or snipping a thread. Wesley was told that The Fraternity is there to keep balance in the civilisation. "We don't know how far the ripples of our actions go," says Fox, justifying their action "Kill one, maybe save a thousand."

The movie is extremely violent with gunfire, car crashes, train crash, slashing with knives, and scenes of people beating each other up. There were explosions. It is an entertaining fast paced action adventure movie with lots of of violent sound effects.

The idea of a balance in civilisation maintained by killing of people who has the potential to disrupt it is intriguing. This is not removal after a person has done damage but before he or she can do damage. This is preemptive strike by a death squad. It is similar in concept with Minority Report without Tom Cruise's irritating smile.

What happens, I wonder, if God forms a death squad to remove persons who have the potential to harm society- like Hilter, Stalin, Mao or Idi Amin? Assassinate them before they have the opportunity to do damage. Wouldn't that be a great idea? It will save millions of human lives. Why not?


I guess this is because many of us have a simplistic view of violence and evil. We assume the guilt lies only in the person who kills or murder. Unfortunately, the root of evil lies deeper than single person. It also lies in human culture, governments and societies which the Bible refers to as powers and principalities. One may assassinate Hilter before he became Fuhrer but another will likely to arise and take his place.



Interesting thought from an interesting movie though.


Spiritual Formation in Community


Christianity Today, June (Web-Only), 2008

Back to Sunday School
The author of Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered says the church must reclaim its disciple-making infrastructure.
Interview by Susan Wunderink posted 6/26/2008 08:55AM


"Spiritual formation is the task of the church. Period." That's how James C. Wilhoit opens his new book, Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered. Wilhoit, professor of Christian formation and ministry at Wheaton College, has been teaching about spiritual formation since 1981. He says he owes a great debt in his own spiritual formation to Dallas Willard, whose foreword to Wilhoit's book reiterates the theme: spiritual formation, he says, is the "central problem facing the contemporary church."

Wilhoit spoke about the book and how churches often misunderstand the task of formation.

Your title suggests that most people do not have the church in mind when they talk about spiritual formation.

A lot of the patterns of spiritual formation give a sense that the church doesn't matter. These are things that you could largely do on your own. I came to write this book after people would sometimes call me and say, "We're interested in doing spiritual formation in the church."
And I asked, "What are you doing?"

"Oh, we're using Richard Foster in this class on spiritual disciplines."

But teaching a couple of classes on Celebration of Discipline is not what it would mean for the church to be about its business of formation.

So when you talk about spiritual disciplines, you're not just talking about the 13 that Richard Foster outlined in that book?

Certainly you have those classic disciplines that Foster talks about. But the trouble with those disciplines is they can become kind of "quiet time only" activities. So I want to put emphasis those disciplines that are distinctively relational. We all are in the midst of being formed and challenged in relationships, and we just have to be intentional about that — about engaging people in the margin, about offering forgiveness to people that have hurt us. And so that has to be there.

Foster's introduction is so helpful in emphasizing this, and a lot of people's lives, like mine, were changed by it. But a lot of people read the book and practiced these activities in a way that never touches their life.

I want to emphasize the context as well as the practices. What I have seen with my students is if you take a legalist and teach them Richard Foster, they simply become a far more adroit legalist. We constantly need to go back to this theme that it is all about seeking to live out the gospel and live out of our brokenness.

How do you define spiritual formation?

I want to have a definition of spiritual formation that has a strong community focus to it, that is not just aimed at one's self. So Christian spiritual formation refers to the intentional communal process of growing in our relationship with God, in being conformed to Christ and the power of the Spirit.

How does that relate to church activities like worship?

Not all of what the church does is spiritual formation, but if one is thoughtful, one recognizes that all components of the church have a formational dimension.

There are ways that you can ask how to structure worship in service of spiritual formation without so privileging spiritual formation that everything is meant to serve that. Worship has the goal of taking us into God's presence. That's a sufficient telos [end purpose].

In the book, I talk about the four Rs of spiritual formation: receiving, remembering, responding, and relating. Worship is one of the ways that orients us to receiving from God's grace, and it makes us aware of our creatureliness and our dependence on him. Worship is one of those things that should set us up for spiritual formation and is an important vehicle in that formation.

In February, we polled our online readers about the church's most important responsibility, and almost a quarter selected "helping non-Christians find Christ."

On one level, they're right. I have many students that come to my course as Christians, and the gospel is introduced to them as if they did not know it. They had perceived the gospel as a kind of front door for the church, not as a road map.

One of the ways the church could do spiritual formation much better is to conceive many of its ministries as gospel-oriented. They need going to remind people that the way one becomes a Christian and the way one grows as a Christian are essentially the same thing. We come to believe the gospel more fully, to understand the depth of our sin, to understand the beauty and attractiveness of Jesus Christ, and to learn to trust his words more fully.

Over time we can begin to lose the reality of sin, the Cross, and redemption. I continually need to come back. The gospel is a daily reminding myself of the Cross, a daily reminding myself that I'm loved and accepted in God through the Cross.

In evangelical churches today, what do you think is the main enemy of spiritual formation?

There are a variety of things. I'd like to do a top-ten list. But for one, out of a short-term pragmatism, we are disassembling structures that have served the church well in terms of formation.

Like what?

Sunday morning adult education courses. Evening worship services that have an emphasis on testimony, accounts of world Christianity through missions, and more informal, life-related messages. This kind of formational infrastructure is being taken apart.
You also have other factors, like the rising emphasis on the sermon. It is being asked to do things that the sermon alone cannot do.

What are evangelicals doing well in regard to spiritual formation?

Varieties of things. Certainly if you look to compare the broadest religious groups, people are being exposed to the Scriptures. People are also particularly involved in missions. Short-term missions programs have a remarkable effect upon formation. The use of small groups is certainly something that is very positive.

Copyright © 2008 Christianity Today.

read my review here
.

Spiritual Formation in Community


Christianity Today, June (Web-Only), 2008

Back to Sunday School
The author of Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered says the church must reclaim its disciple-making infrastructure.
Interview by Susan Wunderink posted 6/26/2008 08:55AM


"Spiritual formation is the task of the church. Period." That's how James C. Wilhoit opens his new book, Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered. Wilhoit, professor of Christian formation and ministry at Wheaton College, has been teaching about spiritual formation since 1981. He says he owes a great debt in his own spiritual formation to Dallas Willard, whose foreword to Wilhoit's book reiterates the theme: spiritual formation, he says, is the "central problem facing the contemporary church."

Wilhoit spoke about the book and how churches often misunderstand the task of formation.

Your title suggests that most people do not have the church in mind when they talk about spiritual formation.

A lot of the patterns of spiritual formation give a sense that the church doesn't matter. These are things that you could largely do on your own. I came to write this book after people would sometimes call me and say, "We're interested in doing spiritual formation in the church."
And I asked, "What are you doing?"

"Oh, we're using Richard Foster in this class on spiritual disciplines."

But teaching a couple of classes on Celebration of Discipline is not what it would mean for the church to be about its business of formation.

So when you talk about spiritual disciplines, you're not just talking about the 13 that Richard Foster outlined in that book?

Certainly you have those classic disciplines that Foster talks about. But the trouble with those disciplines is they can become kind of "quiet time only" activities. So I want to put emphasis those disciplines that are distinctively relational. We all are in the midst of being formed and challenged in relationships, and we just have to be intentional about that — about engaging people in the margin, about offering forgiveness to people that have hurt us. And so that has to be there.

Foster's introduction is so helpful in emphasizing this, and a lot of people's lives, like mine, were changed by it. But a lot of people read the book and practiced these activities in a way that never touches their life.

I want to emphasize the context as well as the practices. What I have seen with my students is if you take a legalist and teach them Richard Foster, they simply become a far more adroit legalist. We constantly need to go back to this theme that it is all about seeking to live out the gospel and live out of our brokenness.

How do you define spiritual formation?

I want to have a definition of spiritual formation that has a strong community focus to it, that is not just aimed at one's self. So Christian spiritual formation refers to the intentional communal process of growing in our relationship with God, in being conformed to Christ and the power of the Spirit.

How does that relate to church activities like worship?

Not all of what the church does is spiritual formation, but if one is thoughtful, one recognizes that all components of the church have a formational dimension.

There are ways that you can ask how to structure worship in service of spiritual formation without so privileging spiritual formation that everything is meant to serve that. Worship has the goal of taking us into God's presence. That's a sufficient telos [end purpose].

In the book, I talk about the four Rs of spiritual formation: receiving, remembering, responding, and relating. Worship is one of the ways that orients us to receiving from God's grace, and it makes us aware of our creatureliness and our dependence on him. Worship is one of those things that should set us up for spiritual formation and is an important vehicle in that formation.

In February, we polled our online readers about the church's most important responsibility, and almost a quarter selected "helping non-Christians find Christ."

On one level, they're right. I have many students that come to my course as Christians, and the gospel is introduced to them as if they did not know it. They had perceived the gospel as a kind of front door for the church, not as a road map.

One of the ways the church could do spiritual formation much better is to conceive many of its ministries as gospel-oriented. They need going to remind people that the way one becomes a Christian and the way one grows as a Christian are essentially the same thing. We come to believe the gospel more fully, to understand the depth of our sin, to understand the beauty and attractiveness of Jesus Christ, and to learn to trust his words more fully.

Over time we can begin to lose the reality of sin, the Cross, and redemption. I continually need to come back. The gospel is a daily reminding myself of the Cross, a daily reminding myself that I'm loved and accepted in God through the Cross.

In evangelical churches today, what do you think is the main enemy of spiritual formation?

There are a variety of things. I'd like to do a top-ten list. But for one, out of a short-term pragmatism, we are disassembling structures that have served the church well in terms of formation.

Like what?

Sunday morning adult education courses. Evening worship services that have an emphasis on testimony, accounts of world Christianity through missions, and more informal, life-related messages. This kind of formational infrastructure is being taken apart.
You also have other factors, like the rising emphasis on the sermon. It is being asked to do things that the sermon alone cannot do.

What are evangelicals doing well in regard to spiritual formation?

Varieties of things. Certainly if you look to compare the broadest religious groups, people are being exposed to the Scriptures. People are also particularly involved in missions. Short-term missions programs have a remarkable effect upon formation. The use of small groups is certainly something that is very positive.

Copyright © 2008 Christianity Today.

read my review here
.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

More about Narnia

Film Review: The Chronicles of Narnia - Prince Caspian
Reviewed by Michelle Dos Santos
Prince Caspian is the second instalment of C.S. Lewis's seven-part fantasy series. If you expect to escape into an enthralling kingdom of candid wonder and colourful magic, you'll be disenchanted. In Narnia, things never happen the same way twice. Gracious fauns and Turkish Delight have been replaced with betrayal, violence and predictable revenge..... Read more >>

Waiting for Aslan
As Prince Caspian - the latest in the Narnia series - hits the cinemas, James Hanvey SJ explores the growing popularity of 'fantasy epics' and what this tells us about the challenge of communicating the Gospel in a culture that has become disenchanted with Christianity. Read >>

my review here

More about Narnia

Film Review: The Chronicles of Narnia - Prince Caspian
Reviewed by Michelle Dos Santos
Prince Caspian is the second instalment of C.S. Lewis's seven-part fantasy series. If you expect to escape into an enthralling kingdom of candid wonder and colourful magic, you'll be disenchanted. In Narnia, things never happen the same way twice. Gracious fauns and Turkish Delight have been replaced with betrayal, violence and predictable revenge..... Read more >>

Waiting for Aslan
As Prince Caspian - the latest in the Narnia series - hits the cinemas, James Hanvey SJ explores the growing popularity of 'fantasy epics' and what this tells us about the challenge of communicating the Gospel in a culture that has become disenchanted with Christianity. Read >>

my review here

Unfolding Word


picture credit

Unfolding Word


picture credit

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Following the Footsteps of St. Paul (15)


One may sympathize with Paul as he faced rejection and persecution in Philippi and Thessaloniki as Kar Yong has written in his post. We always assume that Christians are being persecuted because they refuse to worship the deified Caesars. That may be the case in Gentiles but not so for the Jews. The Jews were excepted from worshipping Caesar.

What possible reasons may there being for the violent reaction of the Jews toward Paul? Throughout Jewish history there have been many persons claiming to be the Messiah.
I suggest that this may be due to the Mithraic mystery cult. Remember there were many mystery cults around at that time and some of them were very powerful and influential. The Mithraic cult worship Mithra, a Persian god, during the first four centuries AD. Only men were admitted so it was very popular among the soldiers. Again we are reminded that many of the landowners of Philippi and Thessaloniki were former Roman legionnaires.


There are a number of similarities between this cult and Christianity that the Jews may be mistaken in thinking Paul was preaching a Mithraic-Messiah cult. Later, this cult became Christianity's chief rival religion in the Roman era.




(1) Both appealed to the masses instead of limiting to the upper castes or intellectuals
(2) Both has baptism
(3) Both has a ritual similar to the Lord's supper
(4) Both preach a disciplined life, avoiding the ecstasies and orgies of the other cults
(5) Both taught a cosmic struggle between good and bad, with good being victorious; a great flood, immortality, a resurrection, final eternal punishment, a heaven, a hell, and even a festive day in December 25th !





No wonder Paul has a problem. Which one-ar?




Following the Footsteps of St. Paul (15)


One may sympathize with Paul as he faced rejection and persecution in Philippi and Thessaloniki as Kar Yong has written in his post. We always assume that Christians are being persecuted because they refuse to worship the deified Caesars. That may be the case in Gentiles but not so for the Jews. The Jews were excepted from worshipping Caesar.

What possible reasons may there being for the violent reaction of the Jews toward Paul? Throughout Jewish history there have been many persons claiming to be the Messiah.
I suggest that this may be due to the Mithraic mystery cult. Remember there were many mystery cults around at that time and some of them were very powerful and influential. The Mithraic cult worship Mithra, a Persian god, during the first four centuries AD. Only men were admitted so it was very popular among the soldiers. Again we are reminded that many of the landowners of Philippi and Thessaloniki were former Roman legionnaires.


There are a number of similarities between this cult and Christianity that the Jews may be mistaken in thinking Paul was preaching a Mithraic-Messiah cult. Later, this cult became Christianity's chief rival religion in the Roman era.




(1) Both appealed to the masses instead of limiting to the upper castes or intellectuals
(2) Both has baptism
(3) Both has a ritual similar to the Lord's supper
(4) Both preach a disciplined life, avoiding the ecstasies and orgies of the other cults
(5) Both taught a cosmic struggle between good and bad, with good being victorious; a great flood, immortality, a resurrection, final eternal punishment, a heaven, a hell, and even a festive day in December 25th !





No wonder Paul has a problem. Which one-ar?




Harmless on Mystics

Books & Culture, May/June

Raids on the Ineffable
A lucid account of eight mystics refutes the notion that "all religions are the same at the top."
Reviewed by Nathaniel Peters posted 06/23/08

Mystics by William Harmless, S.J.Oxford Univ. Press350 pp., $18.95, paper


But true mystics are far from amorphously spiritual. As Bernard McGinn has put it, "no mystic (at least before the present century) believed in or practiced 'mysticism.' They believed in and practiced Christianity (or Judaism, or Islam, or Hinduism), that is, religions that contained mystical elements as part of a wider historical whole." McGinn's work serves as the starting point for William Harmless, a professor of theology at Creighton University, whose new book Mystics is a walk through the lives and teachings of eight great mystics: Thomas Merton, Bernard of Clairvaux, Hildegard of Bingen, Bonaventure, Meister Eckhart, and Evagrius Ponticus from the Christian tradition, as well as the Sufi poet Rumi and the Buddhist divine Dogen. read more


A good review. I look forward to reading this when my book arrives.

Harmless on Mystics

Books & Culture, May/June

Raids on the Ineffable
A lucid account of eight mystics refutes the notion that "all religions are the same at the top."
Reviewed by Nathaniel Peters posted 06/23/08

Mystics by William Harmless, S.J.Oxford Univ. Press350 pp., $18.95, paper


But true mystics are far from amorphously spiritual. As Bernard McGinn has put it, "no mystic (at least before the present century) believed in or practiced 'mysticism.' They believed in and practiced Christianity (or Judaism, or Islam, or Hinduism), that is, religions that contained mystical elements as part of a wider historical whole." McGinn's work serves as the starting point for William Harmless, a professor of theology at Creighton University, whose new book Mystics is a walk through the lives and teachings of eight great mystics: Thomas Merton, Bernard of Clairvaux, Hildegard of Bingen, Bonaventure, Meister Eckhart, and Evagrius Ponticus from the Christian tradition, as well as the Sufi poet Rumi and the Buddhist divine Dogen. read more


A good review. I look forward to reading this when my book arrives.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Top Ten Genre Movies

AFI Names Top Genre Films

The American Film Institute revealed the 10 greatest movies in 10 classic American film genres--including science fiction, fantasy and animation--in a three-hour special television event on CBS June 17. A jury of 1,500 film artists, critics and historians named 2001: A Space Odyssey the top science fiction film, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs the top animated film and The Wizard of Oz the best fantasy film. Each segment of the broadcast featured a different celebrity host, including Sigourney Weaver for science fiction, Jennifer Love Hewitt for animation and Sean Astin for fantasy.

A complete list of the top 10 films in those genres follows.

Top 10 Science Fiction Films
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
2. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
3. E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial (1982)
4. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
5. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
6. Blade Runner (1982)
7. Alien (1979)
8. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
9. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
10. Back to the Future (1985)

Top 10 Animated Films
1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
2. Pinocchio (1940)
3. Bambi (1942)
4. The Lion King (1994)
5. Fantasia (1940)
6. Toy Story (1995)
7. Beauty and The Beast (1991)
8. Shrek (2001)
9. Cinderella (1950)
10. Finding Nemo (2003)

Top 10 Fantasy Films
1. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
3. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
4. King Kong (1933)
5. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
6. Field of Dreams (1989)
7. Harvey (1950)
8. Groundhog Day (1993)
9. The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
10. Big (1988)


Hey, I have watched all of them! :)

source

Top Ten Genre Movies

AFI Names Top Genre Films

The American Film Institute revealed the 10 greatest movies in 10 classic American film genres--including science fiction, fantasy and animation--in a three-hour special television event on CBS June 17. A jury of 1,500 film artists, critics and historians named 2001: A Space Odyssey the top science fiction film, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs the top animated film and The Wizard of Oz the best fantasy film. Each segment of the broadcast featured a different celebrity host, including Sigourney Weaver for science fiction, Jennifer Love Hewitt for animation and Sean Astin for fantasy.

A complete list of the top 10 films in those genres follows.

Top 10 Science Fiction Films
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
2. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
3. E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial (1982)
4. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
5. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
6. Blade Runner (1982)
7. Alien (1979)
8. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
9. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
10. Back to the Future (1985)

Top 10 Animated Films
1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
2. Pinocchio (1940)
3. Bambi (1942)
4. The Lion King (1994)
5. Fantasia (1940)
6. Toy Story (1995)
7. Beauty and The Beast (1991)
8. Shrek (2001)
9. Cinderella (1950)
10. Finding Nemo (2003)

Top 10 Fantasy Films
1. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
3. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
4. King Kong (1933)
5. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
6. Field of Dreams (1989)
7. Harvey (1950)
8. Groundhog Day (1993)
9. The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
10. Big (1988)


Hey, I have watched all of them! :)

source

Losing Faith: Is There a Cure?


The May - June 2008 Issue


Losing Faith: Is There a Cure for This Ongoing Problem?


Raising Local Resources Glenn Schwartz

Columns

Editorial CommentRalph D. Winter

Further Reflections Greg H. Parsons

.

Losing Faith: Is There a Cure?


The May - June 2008 Issue


Losing Faith: Is There a Cure for This Ongoing Problem?


Raising Local Resources Glenn Schwartz

Columns

Editorial CommentRalph D. Winter

Further Reflections Greg H. Parsons

.

Why the Hulk should be Red not Green


The fictional comic book character, The Incredible Hulk was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962. The Hulk is the alter ego of mild mannered physicist Dr Bruce Banner who was accidentally irradiated by gamma radiation. Whenever he gets angry, he turned into the Hulk, a creature consisting of pure rage which is invincible and incredibly strong. The angrier the Hulk gets, the stronger and bigger he becomes. I guess he was green because of the gamma radiation. Why green and not red? The English expression of becoming angry is “seeing red.” A red Hulk will be more appropriate.

Many of us are aware of the beast within us. And of the thin veneer of civility that makes us respectable citizens. Occasionally someone will snap and the beast breaks out. Then we are all horrified at the violence done to persons and properties. Sometimes it is not a person but a mob or a nation. And in the aftermath amidst the carnage, we are again reminded of the evil that lurks the heart of human beings. In our hectic, chaotic and stressful lifestyles, anger is our constant emotional companion. While some of us are aware of it, others are not. Many try to repress their daily anger. Doing so they become impatient, irritable and aggressive. Repressing anger does not make it go away. Like energy, emotions can be converted into other forms. Repressed energy is converted into hatred, bitterness and anxiety.

“Please don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry" is a famous byline from the Hulk television series which turned up in every comic, television and movies involving the not-so jolly green man. What makes you angry? Could it be social injustice, exploitation of the poor, religious intolerance, and maybe, abuse of political privileges? My reasons for getting angry are often not so righteous. I get angry because I do not get things my own way; why people do not behave the way I expect them to, why projects do not go the way I planned it to, and why the universe do not happen the way I want it to. I get angry and then I feel guilty. I remember what Paul wrote to the Ephesians: "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold (Eph.4:26-27). Paul was referring to Psalm 4:4: In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Furthermore, I remember this old Cherokee story named “The Two Wolves”:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed.”


I reflected upon this and drew some wisdom. The psalmist, Apostle Paul and the old Cherokee did not deny the existence of anger or being angry. In fact, they all acknowledge it. Furthermore, they taught me the only way to deal with anger is not to feed it. The only way to deal with anger is to starve it of attention and other emotions. The Hulk is pure rage, violent raw energy and red is the appropriate colour. Green reminds me of leafy meadows, peacefulness and calm. Methinks the Hulk should be red in colour. Or even better blue…


picture source

Why the Hulk should be Red not Green


The fictional comic book character, The Incredible Hulk was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962. The Hulk is the alter ego of mild mannered physicist Dr Bruce Banner who was accidentally irradiated by gamma radiation. Whenever he gets angry, he turned into the Hulk, a creature consisting of pure rage which is invincible and incredibly strong. The angrier the Hulk gets, the stronger and bigger he becomes. I guess he was green because of the gamma radiation. Why green and not red? The English expression of becoming angry is “seeing red.” A red Hulk will be more appropriate.

Many of us are aware of the beast within us. And of the thin veneer of civility that makes us respectable citizens. Occasionally someone will snap and the beast breaks out. Then we are all horrified at the violence done to persons and properties. Sometimes it is not a person but a mob or a nation. And in the aftermath amidst the carnage, we are again reminded of the evil that lurks the heart of human beings. In our hectic, chaotic and stressful lifestyles, anger is our constant emotional companion. While some of us are aware of it, others are not. Many try to repress their daily anger. Doing so they become impatient, irritable and aggressive. Repressing anger does not make it go away. Like energy, emotions can be converted into other forms. Repressed energy is converted into hatred, bitterness and anxiety.

“Please don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry" is a famous byline from the Hulk television series which turned up in every comic, television and movies involving the not-so jolly green man. What makes you angry? Could it be social injustice, exploitation of the poor, religious intolerance, and maybe, abuse of political privileges? My reasons for getting angry are often not so righteous. I get angry because I do not get things my own way; why people do not behave the way I expect them to, why projects do not go the way I planned it to, and why the universe do not happen the way I want it to. I get angry and then I feel guilty. I remember what Paul wrote to the Ephesians: "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold (Eph.4:26-27). Paul was referring to Psalm 4:4: In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Furthermore, I remember this old Cherokee story named “The Two Wolves”:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed.”


I reflected upon this and drew some wisdom. The psalmist, Apostle Paul and the old Cherokee did not deny the existence of anger or being angry. In fact, they all acknowledge it. Furthermore, they taught me the only way to deal with anger is not to feed it. The only way to deal with anger is to starve it of attention and other emotions. The Hulk is pure rage, violent raw energy and red is the appropriate colour. Green reminds me of leafy meadows, peacefulness and calm. Methinks the Hulk should be red in colour. Or even better blue…


picture source

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Making or Unmaking of an Asian Theologian

Tony Siew from Trinity Theological College (TTC), Singapore, has mooted an excellent idea about a series of books on theology/commentary on the books of the Bible written by Asian scholars or theologians. Kar Yong from Seminari Teologi Malaysia (STM) whole heartedly supports the idea.

Doing my daily musings on my doctor’s chair, it occurs to me to try to define an Asian theologian. The obvious answer is that anyone who is born in Asia and has a theological degree qualifies! My impression is that Tony and Kar Yong has something more in mind. An Asian scholar/theologian is a person who is born in Asia and has a higher theological degree (PhD) and has published in some significant journals or book(s) by a reputable academic publisher. This narrows the field considerably. What about a person of Asian origin but was born and brought up in a first world country? Maybe not. So this leaves me with these Asians who is born in Asia and have achieved a PhD. The implication is that this person will be able to write theologically from an Asian perspective.

Here are my musings:

First, almost all Asians have to go overseas to get their PhDs. Finishing a PhD averages from 5-7 years or longer, full time. One must add in the time for a ThM which is about 2-3 years. Altogether, we may be talking about 10 years. Earning a PhD is a formative process because a person has to be trained to think and write in an ‘academic’ way. Basically it is a very Western model of thinking, based on deconstructing and reconstructing propositions. It is actually an antithesis of the Asian way of consensus thinking. This is not a criticism of the PhD process but an observation. I may be wrong but I believe that those who have gone through a PhD process do not think like an Asian anymore. Let us say, a person get his or her PhD at 40 years old. Even though born in Asia, 25% of his or her adult life will be involved in learning how not to think like an Asian. Is it possible for such people to think like an Asian again?

Second, these 10 years of the higher degree process will be spent in a first world country. Though many students are poor, they are living in a first world country; enjoying its support services, attending a first world church and sending their children to schools there. For these 10 years, they have been out of touch with the Asian church of their home country. Will it be possible for them to go home and continue as if nothing has happened? Will they be able to adapt to the low payscale now when they have accomplished so much? Having being transplanted and are out of circulation in the local environment, will they ever able to readapt, let alone be like the locals again.

Third, most of those who return with a PhD end up with the local seminaries because they find that they had difficulty fitting into the local churches. They think differently from the locals. Again, this is an observation and I have no particular person in mind. Seminaries are great and I want to live there too (especially in their libraries). However, seminaries are not the grassroots and occasional preaching in churches do not really enable one to know what it is really happening at the grassroots. Without the common touch with the grassroots, is it possible to do a really contextualised theology?

Finally, do they know enough or their own heritage and culture to really contextualise what they have learnt overseas? Again, this is my personal observation. Many PhD holders regurgitate what they have learned overseas with a bit of ‘window dressings’ to make it look local. They use overseas textbooks and recycle overseas lectures notes. Is that Asian theology?

I hope these musings will not get me into trouble. I wonder if there is such a person as an Asian theologian. Or a theologian who is Asian. No, don’t throw that stone….

.

The Making or Unmaking of an Asian Theologian

Tony Siew from Trinity Theological College (TTC), Singapore, has mooted an excellent idea about a series of books on theology/commentary on the books of the Bible written by Asian scholars or theologians. Kar Yong from Seminari Teologi Malaysia (STM) whole heartedly supports the idea.

Doing my daily musings on my doctor’s chair, it occurs to me to try to define an Asian theologian. The obvious answer is that anyone who is born in Asia and has a theological degree qualifies! My impression is that Tony and Kar Yong has something more in mind. An Asian scholar/theologian is a person who is born in Asia and has a higher theological degree (PhD) and has published in some significant journals or book(s) by a reputable academic publisher. This narrows the field considerably. What about a person of Asian origin but was born and brought up in a first world country? Maybe not. So this leaves me with these Asians who is born in Asia and have achieved a PhD. The implication is that this person will be able to write theologically from an Asian perspective.

Here are my musings:

First, almost all Asians have to go overseas to get their PhDs. Finishing a PhD averages from 5-7 years or longer, full time. One must add in the time for a ThM which is about 2-3 years. Altogether, we may be talking about 10 years. Earning a PhD is a formative process because a person has to be trained to think and write in an ‘academic’ way. Basically it is a very Western model of thinking, based on deconstructing and reconstructing propositions. It is actually an antithesis of the Asian way of consensus thinking. This is not a criticism of the PhD process but an observation. I may be wrong but I believe that those who have gone through a PhD process do not think like an Asian anymore. Let us say, a person get his or her PhD at 40 years old. Even though born in Asia, 25% of his or her adult life will be involved in learning how not to think like an Asian. Is it possible for such people to think like an Asian again?

Second, these 10 years of the higher degree process will be spent in a first world country. Though many students are poor, they are living in a first world country; enjoying its support services, attending a first world church and sending their children to schools there. For these 10 years, they have been out of touch with the Asian church of their home country. Will it be possible for them to go home and continue as if nothing has happened? Will they be able to adapt to the low payscale now when they have accomplished so much? Having being transplanted and are out of circulation in the local environment, will they ever able to readapt, let alone be like the locals again.

Third, most of those who return with a PhD end up with the local seminaries because they find that they had difficulty fitting into the local churches. They think differently from the locals. Again, this is an observation and I have no particular person in mind. Seminaries are great and I want to live there too (especially in their libraries). However, seminaries are not the grassroots and occasional preaching in churches do not really enable one to know what it is really happening at the grassroots. Without the common touch with the grassroots, is it possible to do a really contextualised theology?

Finally, do they know enough or their own heritage and culture to really contextualise what they have learnt overseas? Again, this is my personal observation. Many PhD holders regurgitate what they have learned overseas with a bit of ‘window dressings’ to make it look local. They use overseas textbooks and recycle overseas lectures notes. Is that Asian theology?

I hope these musings will not get me into trouble. I wonder if there is such a person as an Asian theologian. Or a theologian who is Asian. No, don’t throw that stone….

.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Following the Footsteps of St. Paul (13)



The Emperor Worship Cult

The worship of rulers as gods originated from the east (eg. Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt). The Egyptians worshipped their Pharaohs as gods. This was adopted by the Ptolemies (successors of the Egyptian portion of the Greek Empire after the death of Alexander the Great). The Romans followed the practice after the death of Augustus Caesar (30B.C.- 14 A.D.) However some emperors (Caligula, Nero, Domitian) claimed deity for themselves while they are still alive. Domitian demanded public worship as "Lord and God." Aside from themselves, some emperors also made others god- for example Hadrian made his favourite slave boyfriend Antinous, who drowned, god (as we saw the fresco at the Delphi museum).

Pergamum became the Asian centre of emperor worship. By the second century, it already have three pagan temples, including one to Emperor Hadrian. Pergamum may be the place referred to "where Satan has his throne" (Rev.2:13). The book of Revelation may be written during Domitian's reign.

This veneration serves to establish political unity and affirm loyalty to Rome. It filled no religious needs. However it did present a problems to Christians who cannot affirm any man, god nor submit to any Lord except to Lord Jesus.

(statue of Emperor Hadrian from the Archaeological Museum of Olympia. May be a statue from the emperor worship cult temple)



picture credit

Following the Footsteps of St. Paul (13)



The Emperor Worship Cult

The worship of rulers as gods originated from the east (eg. Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt). The Egyptians worshipped their Pharaohs as gods. This was adopted by the Ptolemies (successors of the Egyptian portion of the Greek Empire after the death of Alexander the Great). The Romans followed the practice after the death of Augustus Caesar (30B.C.- 14 A.D.) However some emperors (Caligula, Nero, Domitian) claimed deity for themselves while they are still alive. Domitian demanded public worship as "Lord and God." Aside from themselves, some emperors also made others god- for example Hadrian made his favourite slave boyfriend Antinous, who drowned, god (as we saw the fresco at the Delphi museum).

Pergamum became the Asian centre of emperor worship. By the second century, it already have three pagan temples, including one to Emperor Hadrian. Pergamum may be the place referred to "where Satan has his throne" (Rev.2:13). The book of Revelation may be written during Domitian's reign.

This veneration serves to establish political unity and affirm loyalty to Rome. It filled no religious needs. However it did present a problems to Christians who cannot affirm any man, god nor submit to any Lord except to Lord Jesus.

(statue of Emperor Hadrian from the Archaeological Museum of Olympia. May be a statue from the emperor worship cult temple)



picture credit

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Managing Pluralism-Indian Style

Books & Culture, May/June 2008

Managing Pluralism, Indian-style
Lessons for the 21st century.
by Chandra Mallampalli

"Girls, when I was growing up, my parents used to say to me, 'Tom, finish your dinner—people in China and India are starving.' My advice to you is: Girls, finish your homework—people in China and India are starving for your jobs."—Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat

Thomas Friedman's admonition to his daughters shows how distant lands are being re-packaged to Americans in the 21st century. In The World is Flat, the New York Times columnist describes a leveling of the economic playing field, where members of previously poor or stagnant economies are gaining greater access to global wealth through the power of information. India factors prominently in the flattening process, not least because its growing middle class ranks high in math and computer skills and fluency in English. But outsourced jobs and call centers are not the only images tied to the new India. In The Clash Within, Chicago ethicist Martha Nussbaum details how hypermasculine Hindu militants raped Muslim women and destroyed Muslim shops in their genocidal fury in the western state of Gujarat in 2002, threatening India's sixty-year-old democracy. The key to this democracy, according to Harvard economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, is its ancient tradition of argument and reasoned debate. In The Argumentative Indian, Sen claims that Westerners have failed to appreciate this Asian tradition of public reason due to a preoccupation with falsely exotic notions of the East.

read more

an interesting perspective on understanding how India deals with its pluralism by interacting with three books by an associate professor of history at Westmont College.

Amartya Sen, The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture, and Identity (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005; Picador, 2006).
Thomas Friedman, The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (Picador, 2007).
Martha Nussbaum, The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future (Harvard Univ. Press, 2007).

Managing Pluralism-Indian Style

Books & Culture, May/June 2008

Managing Pluralism, Indian-style
Lessons for the 21st century.
by Chandra Mallampalli

"Girls, when I was growing up, my parents used to say to me, 'Tom, finish your dinner—people in China and India are starving.' My advice to you is: Girls, finish your homework—people in China and India are starving for your jobs."—Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat

Thomas Friedman's admonition to his daughters shows how distant lands are being re-packaged to Americans in the 21st century. In The World is Flat, the New York Times columnist describes a leveling of the economic playing field, where members of previously poor or stagnant economies are gaining greater access to global wealth through the power of information. India factors prominently in the flattening process, not least because its growing middle class ranks high in math and computer skills and fluency in English. But outsourced jobs and call centers are not the only images tied to the new India. In The Clash Within, Chicago ethicist Martha Nussbaum details how hypermasculine Hindu militants raped Muslim women and destroyed Muslim shops in their genocidal fury in the western state of Gujarat in 2002, threatening India's sixty-year-old democracy. The key to this democracy, according to Harvard economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, is its ancient tradition of argument and reasoned debate. In The Argumentative Indian, Sen claims that Westerners have failed to appreciate this Asian tradition of public reason due to a preoccupation with falsely exotic notions of the East.

read more

an interesting perspective on understanding how India deals with its pluralism by interacting with three books by an associate professor of history at Westmont College.

Amartya Sen, The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture, and Identity (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005; Picador, 2006).
Thomas Friedman, The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (Picador, 2007).
Martha Nussbaum, The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future (Harvard Univ. Press, 2007).

Apostle Anonymous

Leadership Journal, Spring 2008

Apostles Today?

Rediscovering the gift that leaves churches and well-connected pastors in its wake.


by Skye Jethani



We all know about the apostles named Peter, Paul, and John, but have you ever heard of Andronicus or Junia? Some are surprised to discover that the New Testament identifies more apostles than the twelve men who followed Jesus around Galilee. That fact raises some interesting, and even controversial, questions. What exactly is an apostle, what does the gift of apostleship look like, and how should we understand an apostle's role today?

read more

revisiting the perennial question about apostles today.

Apostle Anonymous

Leadership Journal, Spring 2008

Apostles Today?

Rediscovering the gift that leaves churches and well-connected pastors in its wake.


by Skye Jethani



We all know about the apostles named Peter, Paul, and John, but have you ever heard of Andronicus or Junia? Some are surprised to discover that the New Testament identifies more apostles than the twelve men who followed Jesus around Galilee. That fact raises some interesting, and even controversial, questions. What exactly is an apostle, what does the gift of apostleship look like, and how should we understand an apostle's role today?

read more

revisiting the perennial question about apostles today.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Problem Based Learning (PBL) in Theological Education

Dr. Geoff Pound for Theologians Without Borders linked an earlier posting of mine about the possibility of using PBL based teaching in theological education in his post Problem Based Learning in Seminaries. His comments are


It is good to catch a glimpse of changing educational practice from another sphere. From what Alex writes, it seems that learning by the case study method and Supervised Field Education (SFE) or what is now called Supervised Theological Field Education (STFE), is probably closest to the PBL method.STFE begins with a pastoral encounter (or problem) and proceeds in the way of theological reflection and practice. It is being used extensively around the world and students often say that it is the most integrating subject that they do in their seminary education.STFE is described in this Resource Manual, written by my friend and former colleague, Colin Hunter, who is one of the leaders in this discipline.
While there may be similarity with the STFE, I believe that PBL is different from STFE. STFE is a supervised field study program based on theological reflection by students guided by supervisors. When I suggest PBLfor seminaries,I am suggesting a more radical approach. For years seminaries have been tinkering with theological education to make irrelevant. However, I personallybelieve that no amount of tinkering will make it relevant.

Theological education will need a radical deconstruction, to use their own terms. We need to remove the artificial divisions of systematic theology, pastoral theology, homiletics and other subjects. This is where PBL comes in. By dissolving these artificial divisions, academicians will get a more holistic understanding of their calling and be better equiped to lead his or her congregation who may be better educated, more innovative, better interconnected, have more resources and access to information, better at networking and very post modern in their thinking than the seminary graduate is. In PBL, there will be no more lectures but more collaborative learning effort.

Ultraconservative medical education has embraced the change. The healers of the bodies has moved with times. I wonder if the healers of souls will do the same?

Problem Based Learning (PBL) in Theological Education

Dr. Geoff Pound for Theologians Without Borders linked an earlier posting of mine about the possibility of using PBL based teaching in theological education in his post Problem Based Learning in Seminaries. His comments are


It is good to catch a glimpse of changing educational practice from another sphere. From what Alex writes, it seems that learning by the case study method and Supervised Field Education (SFE) or what is now called Supervised Theological Field Education (STFE), is probably closest to the PBL method.STFE begins with a pastoral encounter (or problem) and proceeds in the way of theological reflection and practice. It is being used extensively around the world and students often say that it is the most integrating subject that they do in their seminary education.STFE is described in this Resource Manual, written by my friend and former colleague, Colin Hunter, who is one of the leaders in this discipline.
While there may be similarity with the STFE, I believe that PBL is different from STFE. STFE is a supervised field study program based on theological reflection by students guided by supervisors. When I suggest PBLfor seminaries,I am suggesting a more radical approach. For years seminaries have been tinkering with theological education to make irrelevant. However, I personallybelieve that no amount of tinkering will make it relevant.

Theological education will need a radical deconstruction, to use their own terms. We need to remove the artificial divisions of systematic theology, pastoral theology, homiletics and other subjects. This is where PBL comes in. By dissolving these artificial divisions, academicians will get a more holistic understanding of their calling and be better equiped to lead his or her congregation who may be better educated, more innovative, better interconnected, have more resources and access to information, better at networking and very post modern in their thinking than the seminary graduate is. In PBL, there will be no more lectures but more collaborative learning effort.

Ultraconservative medical education has embraced the change. The healers of the bodies has moved with times. I wonder if the healers of souls will do the same?