Journal of Education Beyond the Walls
Reaching Out / Drawing In
Journal of Education Beyond the Walls 2014
Volume 11 Editor: Melissa Wiginton Production: Gracia Rich, Randal Whittington Communitas: Journal of Education Beyond the Walls is published annually by Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, 100 East 27th Street, Austin, TX 78705-5797. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web site: austinseminary.edu/communitas
Entered as non-profit class bulk mail at Austin, Texas, under Permit No. 2473. POSTMASTER: Address service requested. Send to Communitas, 100 East 27th Street, Austin, TX 78705-5797. Printing runs are limited. When available, additional copies may be obtained for $4 per copy. Permission to copy articles from Communitas: Journal of Education Beyond the Walls for educational purposes may be given by the editor upon receipt of a written request. COVER ART: “Journey of Churches,” by Austin Seminary student Sabrina Jennings, follows the churches which have been part of her faith formation and spiritual journey. Sabrina was introduced to “Artsy Theology” while doing her SPM at Community Fellowship Presbyterian Church, New Braunfels, in 2013; she has continued using art journaling as sacred space.
Communitas is a term anthropologist Victor Turner uses to describe the temporary but intense community that develops among pilgrims for the duration of the journey (remember the pilgrims of the Canterbury Tales). For us in the church, it might describe the community we develop with the successive churches we serve, the community of cohorts of the College of Pastoral Leaders, or the small groups of learners through Education Beyond the Walls who gather to study together for a brief period of time. Turner also employs the concept of liminality to describe that pilgrim experience of leaving the domain of the familiar to travel and to experience new potentialities and powers that lie afield. We leave home, travel light, expose ourselves both to the unknowns in the world of the horizon and the unknowns within our own souls, now freed to be heard in the silence of the road. The learners and leaders we serve leave their ministry settings momentarily to hear the experiences of colleagues and the wisdom of teachers and to contemplate the ministries seeking to emerge from their own souls. So we are pilgrims beyond familiar boundaries, our experience shaped by communitas and liminalities.
Contents Introduction: Theodore J. Wardlaw . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 From the Editor: Melissa Wiginton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Using Art in Theological Reflection . . . . . . . . . . . Helen Taylor Boursier
Connecting to the Creative Self and the Creator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pamela Castles
Glitter and Grace: A Few Days Away at Austin Seminary . . . . . . . . Lisa Nichols Hickman Stewardship: Managing or Sharing . . . . . . . . . Karl Travis
23 28 30
Know Thyself: Leadership for A Multicultural World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eric Law The Tip of the Iceberg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . KC Kye The Power of Two â€Ś or More . . . . Marilyn J. McCormick
The Seven Deadly Sins of Messaging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Elizabeth Christian
Postscript . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jonathan Miller
Reaching Out / Drawing In
encourage you to read each and every essay in this issue of Communitas carefully and joyfully. Read one while painting your face. Read another while flying a kite. Read yet another while lying on a yoga mat. It’s counterintuitive to read stuff this creative while sitting in your favorite leather chair next to a warm fireplace. Go outside, rake a pile of leaves, fall backwards into it, and read one of these essays. They are, as Melissa Wiginton says, so thoughtful, so cracking and sprouting, that you have to read them all differently. Helen Boursier’s piece on “Artsy Theology” is an imaginative call for an end to the unnatural divorce between art and theology. She makes me want to start painting my sermons—or, perhaps a more successful idea, to get someone to paint what I am saying in a sermon. Pamela Castles’ response is a testimony to how art enables us to tell our stories at deeper level. Lisa Hickman nailed me to the wall with her observation that that ubiquitous “glitter” in our lives is what “turns the otherwise empty space into yet another place in [our lives] that is simply too full.” Ouch. Help me, and maybe I’ll help you, reach for more “spiritual whitespace:” a place that is glitter-free and invitational. Karl Travis helps us with a fresh approach to stewardship—and before you roll your eyes and yawn, just read his essay! Yes, I’m talking to you—you over there who is thinking that our role as stewards is just more glitter. Read Karl, and then we’ll talk. Eric Law’s encouragement that we journey from the Tower of Babel to Pentecost is a roadmap pointing us toward a trip we can take from our head to our heart. The departure point is monoculturalism, and the destination is not just multiculturalism itself, but also the answer to a question about what God is calling us to do, be, or change. KC Kyle’s response voices the perspectives of a person of color. In Marilyn McCormick’s piece on “joint attention,” she presents an intriguing model for a countercultural, non-solitary—even “joyful and fun”—way of reforming “ourselves, our churches, and even the times in which we live.” Sign me up! You will light up while reading Elizabeth Christian’s advice on messaging. Working as I do with Elizabeth on the Seminary’s Board of Trustees, I am always intrigued with the way she thoughtfully applies her public relations and political expertise in so arenas—including, as in this piece, the arena of practicing the faith. Finally, a Catholic priest, a Baptist preacher, and a rabbi walk into a bar. As Rabbi Jonathan Miller tells the story, they are joined by a Presbyterian pastor and an Episcopal priest. It’s not a joke. It’s a testimony to the rich conversations and deep friendship that can develop when religious leaders help one another get out of their comfort zones and encounter the “otherness” in each other. I invite you to Reach Out … be Drawn In throughout the pages that follow!
Theodore J. Wardlaw President and Professor of Homiletics
From the Editor
elcome to the second edition of Communitas as Journal for Education Beyond the Walls. It is Volume 11 of the publication, but No. 2 of the new focus. We have joined with the movement to reuse, recycle, remodel, repurpose, regenerate structures built in days past for the cracking present and sprouting future. With the essays here, we extend the Seminary’s mission—to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership and to employ its resources in the service of the church—in a new direction: from the live-in-person experience here on campus to you in the lived experience of your own communities. I heard a prominent youngish pastor say to his elder colleagues, “We don’t want your pulpits.” I heard it as a snarl. This hurt my feelings—being closer to the elder than the younger, myself—and to my Southern sensibilities it smacked of disrespect. I bristled with righteous indignation. Then a commitment practiced by EBW learning communities popped my rising judgment: Turn to Wonder. As in, “I wonder what he means by that?” A fancier term might be exercising a hermeneutic of generosity. A biblical term might be humility. Perhaps this younger pastor meant that he had a vision for the church he could not fit into the structures he collapsed into the term “pulpit.” I wonder if he was pulled by a call from a future messier, more fluid, less contained than he felt “pulpit” could hold. If so, what to do with the “pulpits” other than simplistic repudiation? I wonder what he would hold onto from “the pulpit.” The essays we offer here, under the title “Drawing In/Reaching Out,” represent structural elements in the life of ministry that we believe are worth holding onto even as welcome change comes: • Theological Reflection • Cultural Competence • Practices of Renewal • Living Faithfully with Money • Fidelity to Vocation In fact, I wonder if healthy change requires the stability of these core commitments. Drawing into our tradition and resources enables us to reach out to the world waiting for good news. Reaching out to the edges of what we know, maybe even just past the edges, energizes us and pushes us to grow. We give you this issue with hope that you find a word, idea, image to rekindle, restart, reinvigorate, revive, reaffirm you.
Melissa Wiginton Vice President for Education Beyond the Walls at Austin Seminary
Reaching Out / Drawing In “Artsy Theology: Mixing Art and Theology for Ministry, Mission, Worship, and Christian Education” When Helen Boursier attended the “Women, Voice, and Preaching” event in Spring 2013, she brought her art supplies. She created a visual reflection of the experience in the pages of an old book. Her practice enticed our imaginations: Could she teach other people how to do this? Might reflection with art be a practice for ministry? We invited her to try it through Education Beyond the Walls. She offered a hands-on “art for the non-artist” workshop for pastors, church leaders, spiritual directors, Christian educators, and the simply curious to learn how to use basic art techniques as part of their ministries. It worked. In this essay, Boursier presents the theology on which her practice is built and suggests practical ways “artsy theology” can be used.
The (Mixed Media) Art of Theological Reflection
Helen Taylor Boursier
ntegrating mixed-media arts with theological reflection is a practical theology which creates a lens through which to discern the presence of God in contemporary life—a visual postmodern hermeneutic.1 The art of theological reflection— what I call “artsy theology”—includes reflecting on concerns that may be found inside or outside the life of the church. This creative theology crosses back-and-forth between the invisible boundaries of the secular and the sacred. Art is to theological reflection what deconstruction is to the philosophical and theological disciplines. Whereas deconstruction sets the “hermeneutical stage” to give ideas and language “a new twist,”2 art provides an interactive visual deconstruction of theological concepts, essentially helping to break apart the layers of
The Reverend Dr. Helen Taylor Bouriser (MDiv 2007) earned the PhD in practi-
cal theology from BH Carroll Theological Institute. She is the organizing pastor of Community Fellowship Presbyterian Church, New Braunfels, Texas, where art plays an integral role in ministry, mission, worship, evangelism, worship, and Christian education. Her pre-call vocation was as a professional photographer, writer, and mixed-media artist. See her blog at artsytheology.blogspot.com
EBW Workshop: Artsy Theology a particular question, decision, planning process, event, or activity. Just as deconstruction is more of a philosophical issue than a literary one—not the technique of the writing but the philosophical nuances of the various words used in the written text—similarly, artsy theology is not about the techniques, materials, or “quality” of the art per se, but rather about the theological reflection and prayer experienced during the process. The point is not to do art or theology for the quality of the product, but for the experience of the process. The artsy theologian first steps aside from any assumptions he or she brings to a situation before artfully reflecting into and through time to discern the presence, blessing, and/or message of God. In other words, art becomes the medium for the message. Whether done in conversation and community with others around the art table or in solitude and silence, understanding God’s Word—revelation—comes to life through art.
Why Art? Why Now? The opening for artsy theology is the postmodernist discovery that all words are laden with subjectivity, values, and personal opinion and that there is no such thing as one “hard and fast” meaning behind words. As visual deconstruction, artsy theology helps to free any pre-conscribed meanings through creative artistic theological reflection. The artsy theologian seeks to locate the space between ideal experience about a given context and the actuality of what happened so that the invisibility of God becomes visible. In Walking on Water: Reflections on Art and Faith, Madeleine L’Engle proposed that art helps people rediscover the creativity of childhood. Whether it is music, writing, or drawing pictures, participating in the arts helps individuals to listen for meaning and to experience healing. It is “during the writing of the story, or the painting, or the composing or singing or playing, that we are returned to that open creativity which was ours when we were children.”3 It is during the process of art, whether as creators or as participants, that one is “helped to remember some of the glorious things we have forgotten, and some of the terrible things we are asked to endure.”4 Mixed-media art theological reflection helps people through grief, trauma, and 12-step recovery. For example, a woman who lost her teenage son to violence used art journaling to visually name her pain but also to celebrate her son’s life. See Figure 1. In explaining what he called “the art spirit,” artist Robert Henri suggested that the arts were invented to capture or express the significant moments in life; that is, those moments Figure 1. “Roller Coaster Grief” is an expression of the traumatic “roller coaster” ups and downs experienced in grief by a mother who lost her teenage son after an altercation at the high school.
Reaching Out / Drawing In
Figure 2. “Beth’s Journey” was created as a team training experience for a border mission trip. It is based on the parable of the sower/seeds and reflects Beth’s journey from childhood through motherhood, the death of a child, divorce, and becoming a self-sufficient single mom. of greatest happiness, wisdom, and vision. He called art “sign-posts on the way to what may be … Sign-posts toward greater knowledge.”5 If, as perceptual psychologist Rudolf Arnheim argues, artistic activity is a form of reasoning in which “perceiving and thinking are indivisibly [visually] intertwined,” the role of art in theological reflection becomes evident: artful reflection naturally calls forth images, and, of course, “images contain thought.”6 Henri also argued that “art tends towards balance, order, judgment of relative values, the laws of growth, the economy of living—very good things for anyone to be interested in”7—particularly the artsy theologian. With its orientation toward a future hope, artsy theology has the potential to be a transformational practice. The art-reflection/reflection-art interplay reminds, encourages, and guides its practitioners to reach beyond what currently is to the higher vocation of listening, hearing, and responding to God’s call and ultimately to move in response toward what the world might be. This past → present → future movement toward hope is influenced by Søren Kierkegaard’s understanding that persons have actuality (past), freedom (present), and possibility (future).8 Doing mixed-media art in a closed journal for personal theological reflection offers freedom from and freedom for—freedom from pain of the past, fear of failure, and also of not being so-called “creative” or “good” at art. It offers freedom for a future hope, creativity, experimenting, empowerment, and stepping outside of one’s art or theology comfort zone. Practitioners of artful reflection become “inventive, searching, daring, [and] self-expressing.”9 Integrating mixed-media art with theological reflection is a tool for examining or reflecting upon diverse areas of human life—spirituality, faith, discipleship; decision making for family, work, or self; preparing evaluations; individual or team reflections of mission trips or ministry activities; prayer; brainstorming; spilling out a “dump sheet” from a “bad day at the office”; travel; family memories; expressing emotions, fears, regrets, triumphs, or joys; noting the presence of God; and/ or ideas and planning as “brains on paper.” This artful reflection is ideal for prison ministry, shelters for teens-at-risk or homeless families, grief groups, and working with children of all ages. See Figure 2.
EBW Workshop: Artsy Theology A Point of Departure My entry into artsy theology began shortly after I had successfully defended my dissertation. The PhD supervisor advised me that it could take up to a year to recover from the arduous academic process. My pre-call vocation had been as a portrait photographer and mixed-media artist for twenty-five years, but after nine years and four academic degrees, anything “artsy” had withered to nothing. I set out to reclaim the creativity of my pre-call life and to make the theoretical academic concepts relevant and viable for my congregation. The four historical resources for theological reflection are scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. I added a fifth: mixed-media art. It is not uncommon for me to have my Bible or a theological text open on my art easel while I wrestle with difficult life experiences and/or theological constructs through art. While experimenting with a myriad of mixed-media art materials and techniques, I have reflected theologically on such diverse themes as my life experiences, the existence of the new church development I was called to “plant,” global mission trips, “The Necessity of Social Justice as Ecclesial Praxis in a Postmodern Context” (my dissertation), discipleship, spirituality, and sermon preparation. Mixed media art also has been integrated into the ministry, mission, worship, and Christian education of the missional paradigm church where I am the organizing pastor.10 Just as Robert Henri proposed about art, during the process of creation and reflection, artsy theology becomes a “landmark in the progress of the human spirit toward a thing but as yet sensed and far from being possessed.” In other words, through the “art of theological reflection” I have gained a “landmark” understanding from whence I have come—and a sense of hope for where God might be drawing me. By entering into artsy theology as a spiritual discipline and maintaining an openness to possibility, I continue to be amazed at the insights gained through the process—not unlike being surprised at what rigorous exegesis uncovers during a more traditional academic sermon preparation process. Likewise, I experience a freshness to the word of God as I remain open to the theological muse of the (mixed-media) art of theological reflection.
Figure 3. Stacked journaling (writing on top of writing) helps synthesize a massive week’s readings. This helps me to identify the key points and narrow the broad text to a preaching theme.
Reaching Out / Drawing In Theological Reflection Method Just as there are diverse art methods and techniques, so, too, there are varied methods of theological reflection. A personal favorite is a model that comes from Central and South America as suggested by a mentor pastor.11 It includes the following steps: Ver (see): Identify a specific experience or person in life. What image is in your mind’s eye? How is God speaking to you through this person or experience? What brought you joy today? Why? How? How was someone a blessing to you today? How did it make you feel? Juzgar (judge/discern): Discern how the event connects to scripture. Actuar (act): Draw some conclusions in three areas (1) What does this confirm about our lives? (2) What does this challenge about our lives? (3) What is God saying to us through this? The team of five from Community Fellowship who recently worked with immigrants at the Catholic Charities relief center at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas, used the ver-juzgar-actuar model for the evening debriefing session. Each person then followed up the next morning with a mixed-media artful reflection during the team devotion time.
Practical Applications—Artsy Theology in Ministry and Mission The visual hermeneutic of the Gospel opened up through artful reflection becomes a guiding path for individuals, teams, and the Church to discern next steps in such critical areas as ministry, mission, worship, discipleship, justice, compassion, evangelism, and church planting.
“God Created—It was Good” VBS mixed media art project recreated “live” during worship on children’s Sunday.
EBW Workshop: Artsy Theology During the summary session of the “Artsy Theology” workshop at Education Beyond the Walls, seminar participants identified the following areas where they planned to implement the practical theology of mixed-media art and theological reflection: • Write down reflections that a hospice chaplain shares weekly with the staff • Artsy theology to help the mentally ill process their thoughts • Add “artsy theology” to an existing arts and crafts group for fun and fellowship • Art journal labyrinth—personal devotion and prayer • Art journaling as brainstorming for sermon prep • Communion workshop—incorporate block prints or mixed-media collage • Global mission—make prayer flags for mission trip to Panama • Clergy retreats—assist with “processing” life • Staff journaling • Global mission team project—visual reflection • Writing your life story small group—add art • Create a “gratitude” collage • Incorporate the art technique of “subtracting text” with praying the newspaper. Integrating mixed-media art with theological reflection begins by beginning at whatever point one is theologically or artistically. Illumination comes through the process—not the product. Fulfillment is in the listening during the doing—for “to create is to work on the level of the soul.”12 Artful reflection creates a mixed-media opening to hear God. v Notes 1. A hermeneutic is the “lens” through which one interprets words—written and spoken. Two horizons intersect during this interpretation: (1) the horizon of the text/words, and (2) the horizon of the reader/interpreter. In other words, one always brings inherited assumptions about the text/words, and those vary significantly from one person’s context to another. See, e.g., Bruce Corley, Steve W. Lemke, and Grant I. Lovejoy, Biblical Hermeneutics: A Comprehensive Introduction to Interpreting Scripture, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002); and Paul Ricoeur, Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences, ed. and trans. John B. Thompson (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1981). 2. John D. Caputo, ed. Deconstruction in a Nutshell: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida (New York: Fordham University Press, 1997), 48. 3. Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Art and Faith (Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1980), 55.
4. Ibid., 19.
5. Robert Henri, The Art Spirit (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1960), 13.
6. Rudolf Arnheim, Visual Thinking, 35th anniv. ed., (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1969, 1997), v.
7. Henri, The Art Spirit, 15.
8. Andrew Lester and Howard W. Stone, “Helping Parishioners Envision the Future” in Strategies for Brief Pastoral Counseling, ed. Howard W. Stone (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), 46.
9. Henri, The Art Spirit, 15.
Reaching Out / Drawing In 10. Community Fellowship Presbyterian Church, New Braunfels, Texas, began July 1, 2008, as a “parachute drop” model new church (no funding, no building, no land, no people) and charted as a PC(USA) congregation November 17, 2013 with 101 charter members.
11. Rev. Robert Mueller, Divine Redeemer Presbyterian Church, San Antonio, Texas.
12. Michele Cassou and Stewart Cubley, Life, Paint and Passion: Reclaiming the Magic of Spontaneous Expression (New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 1995), 128.
Examples of Artsy Theology “The Law of Someday” Workshop (see page 19) Summary: I created this journal entry to summarize the gist of a six-hour seminar on stewardship so that the key themes would be firmed up in my mind and accessible for future teaching and preaching. I created the entry in an altered book and chose the page with “Sacred Places” because it set the theme for what stewardship needs to become for my congregation. I often use symbols and colors to draw out the theological reflection. The green background symbolizes money and the abundance of God’s creation. Each generational excuse for not being generous is “nailed” to a cross with the excuses given wrapping around each cross. The gold graph-like imprint on the bottom suggests the increase in personal earnings. Prompts for teaching and preaching themes (want versus need; discretionary income) are written along the increasing line of income. The art journal entry was on the overhead AV for the congregation to see while I explained what I had learned at the stewardship workshop. I later heard from several people that it had been very helpful to see an art visual during the explanation on stewardship and “The Law of Someday.” See Figure 4. Art Journaling as Sacred Space: The processes for art journaling as sacred space are diverse and vary depending upon the materials used, the starting point for reflection, the steps or prompts included, and the art journal itself. For sermon journaling I prefer to begin by painting light watercolor backgrounds in a plain art journal with 5"x7" white sketch pages and use colored pencils or micron pens. I have a 3"x5" miniature version for my pocket journal to experiment with art techniques and to journal on the go. See Figure 3. For all my other art journaling I prefer to repurpose an old hardback book with a technique called “altered book journaling” whereby
Figure 4. The author’s “The Law of Someday” Workshop journal entry is an example of an altered book.
EBW Workshop: Artsy Theology
Figure 5. “Dump Sheet SelfPortrait” was created at a shelter for at-risk teens.
you “alter” the book as you create the journal entries. I select a book which relates to my current journaling interest and the headlines and text become prompts for the art journaling. See Figure 4. Dump Sheet Self Portrait: Use a half sheet of construction paper and write edgeto-edge “dumping” something that bothers you. Draw a face/neck/shoulders using crayon. Cut out the shape. Paint on the background piece of construction paper; add collage elements; glue down the cutout shape of your head and add details (hair, necklace, shirt collar, facial features). Title your page and/or write or stamp key words on top. Paint over your face and continue to embellish with stamps, words, collage. Top with a word or phrase that reflects what you have been hearing—what is the Good News from God for you? We’ve used this art journaling with teens in a shelter for at-risk teens. This project also works well as a “group dump sheet” to reflect on an experience from a group experience, such as a global mission team, or a small group discussion. See Figure 5. Letter Dump: The “Letter Dump” is similar to the “Dump Sheet Self Portrait” but begins by writing a letter to someone that you will never mail. The letter becomes the background for the multi-layered art reflection. We’ve used the “letter dump” in several ministry contexts including at a local shelter for at-risk teens, in a grief share group, and with global mission teams.
Altered Books Workshop: Creative Techniques for Self-Expression by Bev Brazelton The Complete Decorated Journal: A Compendium of Journaling Techniques by Gwen Diehn The Sketchbook Challenge: Techniques, Prompts, and Inspiration for Achieving Your Creative Goals by Sue Bleiweiss Awaken Your Senses: Exercises for Exploring the Wonder of God by J. Brent Bill & Beth A. Booram Images of Holiness: Explorations in Contemporary Spirituality by Philip Sheldrake, S.J Walking on Water: Reflections on Art and Faith by Madeleine L’Engle How to Think Theologically by Howard W. Stone and James O. Duke
Reaching Out / Drawing In
Connecting to the Creative Self and the Creator A Participant Responds to “Artsy Theology” Pamela Castles
hat is it that the flight attendant is always repeating? Put your own mask on first and then help children or others near you. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to give to someone else what we do not have for ourselves. And yet scripture calls us to love God and love neighbor as we love ourselves. In order to meet these two requirements, it seems, we must seek ways in which we can love and care for ourselves. As a spiritual director, I am always looking for new ways to help individuals discover paths of wholeness and healing—paths that lead to self-care and selfknowledge—paths that help us discover the mystery within ourselves, that place where God speaks most clearly to us. Carl Jung found that one of the most natural ways to discover that mysterious God-center within is through drawing and painting. His Red Book (W. W. Norton, 2009) is a marvelous example of his artistic process of self-discovery. The “Artsy Theology” workshop provided several tools to help individuals connect with their own God-centers, much in the way that Jung used his art. We were encouraged to journal by using collage, watercolor, and word-stacking— simple art forms that even I could master. We learned how to transfer symbols, like a labyrinth, onto a page in a journal that would allow us to write prayers within the spirals of the labyrinth. We incorporated treasured family photos in collages to tell our particular stories of faith. What I noticed in the participants and in myself was the great enthusiasm (from the Greek for “in God”) with which we pursued our artwork. We were definitely inspired (“in the Spirit”). All of these artistic techniques were wonderful ways to encounter and take delight in that mysterious God-center within. But they also allowed us to connect with each other, as we admired and took pleasure in the creative efforts of the other participants.
Pam Castles is a Certified Spiritual Director currently practicing in Austin, Texas. She provides individual and group spiritual direction as well as retreat facilitation and energy revitalization. She is also a registered nurse with twenty-eight years of experience. More information can be found at http://pgcastles.wix.com/pamela-castles. She participated in EBW’s Artsy Theology Workshop.
EBW Workshop: Artsy Theology “Every picture tells a story,” the old pop song croons. Art and drawing do indeed allow us to tell our stories; they enable us to get in touch with and share our inner wisdom. We begin to connect with others’ stories. Our pictures empower and enhance personal and interpersonal knowledge. They reveal truths and divine insights previously hidden from our conscious thoughts. Drawing and painting are the soul’s original language. Remember what great artists we all were as children? Remember how it felt to talk about and share our artwork in elementary school? Art is a way to encounter once again that long-lost creative self and connect on a deeper level with our Creator, the great artist of the universe. v
Reaching Out / Drawing In “Writing in the Margins: Where Word Meets World for Women in Ministry” Women’s lives have little margin: just picture J.K. Rowling writing on scraps of napkins and receipts in an English coffeehouse composing her first novel. Women in ministry know that challenge even more fully. In May, a group of women in ministry spent three days on campus in retreat, learning, and support. Lisa Nichols Hickman facilitated the group and here reflects on what they needed and how the experience led them to rest and renewal.
Glitter and Grace: A Few Days Away at Austin Seminary
Lisa Nichols Hickman
have a glitter problem. Everywhere there is a little crevice of space in the car or at home where little pieces of gold, purple, silver, and rainbow glitter collect in abundance. I’m not sure if the glitter has fallen from the angels’ wings costumes from the church Christmas celebration, or from the remnants of our daughter’s ballet recital costumes, or from the rejects of the Salvation Army shopping trip trying to find the perfect Frozen costumes for Halloween. Let me just say the glitter is ubiquitous. Those little glints of color are both joy and utter annoyance as they slip through the fingers and withstand the fierce swoosh of the vacuum cleaner. Glitter and its persistence always seem to land in the very few spaces in my life that would otherwise have a little breathing room: the quiet of my car, the retreat of my bathroom, even, in the pages of my Bible. Glitter gathers and turns the otherwise empty space into yet another place in my life that is simply too full. Glitter
The Reverend Lisa Nichols Hickman is a Presbyterian pastor and author of The Worshiping Life: Meditations on the Order of Worship, Writing in the Margins: Connecting to God on the Pages of Your Bible, Mercy & Melons: Praying the Alphabet, and 26 Ways to Pray the Alphabet: Daily Spiritual Practices to Help You Ask, Begin, Center, and Do—A Mercy & Melons Guide. She is pursuing a doctorate in theological studies and writes for The Huffington Post and Odyssey Networks’ On Scripture. 14
EBW Workshop: Writing in the Margins represents what shows up and sticks in the margins of my life exchanging a potential place of pause for something more sparkly and alluring. Think iPhone and the easy sweep of information and distraction, the dazzle of something always at hand. Think “to-do lists” and the glint of possibility of all that might get done by our efforts. Think of fast food and all its packaging and the exchange of true nutrition for a lackluster meal wrapped in the tempting colors that beckon our appetite. As much as I love to see my girls in all their glitter and the smiles that beam from underneath the layers of color, I know all too well the way a different kind of glitter gets in the way of ministry. Glitter is the glint of the perfect program, the glossing of others’ egos, the flash and trappings of so many things that really don’t need to get done but beg for attention. To be clear, this isn’t just a problem for women in ministry. My husband has that same glitter problem, as all those bits of showy glass distract him from the true work of relational and missional ministry. So I appreciate the words of the poet Lisel Mueller who writes, “Invent us as we were before our bodies glittered.” These words tug at my spirit and make me long for something that existed before all these distracting pieces of glass began to cut and pierce and flash. Something like a Sabbath, something like a long walk in the woods, something like a long afternoon with my family without all the technology at hand, something like a church gathering that wasn’t a potluck or a program or a prepared meeting, but folks simply sharing, as two or three gathered without the glamour or the glitz. Last May, a dozen clergywomen of varying denominations and I gathered for a few days of washing off that glitter. We began with a worship service to sanctify the space and time set apart by sprinkling glitter on our hands and naming all those distractions and demands that sink into our crevasses and stick hard. Yes, we added a little glitter, so then we could wash it off in that sublime space of our baptismal waters. That moment was the beginning of a meaningful time of rejuvenation. This wasn’t Credo or the Festival of Homiletics or that long-standing lectionary group or a silent retreat; not even a ropes course. This was something wholly other: a group of women, previously strangers, who needed to retreat from all the demands of their lives to spend time alone with God and with each other free from distractions, free, from glitter. We needed this time. The idea was risky, really, for some of us. And yet, that sacramental water began to work its ways into the cracks and leverage all those little things that had gotten stuck in heart, mind, and spirit. Lisel Mueller’s poem “The End of Science Fiction” attests to that pesky glitter and imagines something otherwise; so, too, did we here on retreat hope for the same. Baptismal rites in years past asked the tough questions: Do you renounce Satan? And all his works? And all his pomps? (Pomps was a back-in-the-day way of saying “empty promises.”) While our language may have changed in contemporary liturgy, I hear in those words a renouncement of all those desires that glitter. Do you renounce all that glitters? Too easily we get tugged by the empty promises of
Reaching Out / Drawing In
The End of Science Fiction This is not fantasy, this is our life. We are the characters who have invaded the moon, who cannot stop their computers. We are the gods who can unmake the world in seven days. Both hands are stopped at noon. We are beginning to live forever, in lightweight, aluminum bodies with numbers stamped on our backs. We dial our words like Muzak. We hear each other through water. The genre is dead. Invent something new. Invent a man and a woman naked in a garden, invent a child that will save the world, a man who carries his father out of a burning city. Invent a spool of thread that leads a hero to safety, invent an island on which he abandons the woman who saved his life with no loss of sleep over his betrayal. Invent us as we were before our bodies glittered and we stopped bleeding: invent a shepherd who kills a giant, a girl who grows into a tree, a woman who refuses to turn her back on the past and is changed to salt, a boy who steals his brother’s birthright and becomes the head of a nation. Invent real tears, hard love, slow-spoken, ancient words, difficult as a child’s first steps across a room.
By Lisel Mueller
Lisel Mueller, “The End of Science Fiction” from Alive Together: New and Selected Poems, © 1996 by Lisel Mueller. Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press.
EBW Workshop: Writing in the Margins what glitters: that burst of energy from a source other than God’s power—the pomps of easy praise, the empty promises of the next hyperlink to follow, the powers that corrupt in our church systems. Those of us on retreat could nod and say “Amen” to many of the sentiments in Muller’s poem that speak of glitter and its distractive power. She’s not talking about “science fiction.” She seems to know about our lives, the particularly demanding lives of those in ministry: we cannot make our computers stop, we hit automated dial without thinking, we hear the constant drum of Muzak, and yet, we do not hear each other. Invent something new, Mueller prays, and we long for the same. Something new, we need in us as individuals. Something new, we need in community. So we tried otherwise on retreat. We set our computers aside, we attuned ourselves to the rhythms of our bodies and did not set our alarm clocks, we read poetry and scripture, we quilled instead of hitting automatic redial, and most of all, we listened to each other instead of the tinny Muzak. Mueller’s poem culminates with the simplest of things: real love, hard tears, and the tug of ancient words. These things as innate and simply beautiful as they are in essence are the most difficult things in practice. We lived these together as a community of disciples for a trio of days that culminated in many little resurrections. Bonnie Gray, in her book Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest, names the fact that “whitespace is extravagance” and that choosing that rest we all need is truly an act of extravagance. Gray’s call to move beyond “coping and surviving” is a similar plea to Mueller’s. We can practically hear her saying, invent us as we were before … Choosing spiritual whitespace, like the sanctuary offered by Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, is risky and courageous. Showing up to a group of strangers is just that: strange. Carving out the time to retreat is just that: a decisive cut. Turning off technology feels absolutely impossible. And yet, we need this more than ever. Invent us anew, we sigh and pray. As one of the participants said, “I came to our time needing some healing and renewal from a very stressful time in ministry as I was transitioning out of my previous congregation. I also came needing some days to sleep in and talk theologically and pastorally and collegially about faith, life, and scripture.” In this time, we were met in that whitespace with extravagance. Fast food wrappers were tossed aside for “migas” (a Tex-Mex omelet made with tortilla crumbs) and the work of a local caterer known for his nutrition and freshness. Technology was available, of course, but set aside for the higher purposes of conversation, worship, and long walks. To-do lists were practically ripped and turned instead into the long thin strips of paper used for the practice of quilling to create filigreed paper artwork of the baptismal symbol of a seashell. As we quilled and walked and laughed and cried and ate migas and worshiped in the Shelton Chapel on campus, we invented something new—bodies without all that glitter, bodies wholly new. We found a place of extravagance, so that rest could be real and the comforts at
Reaching Out / Drawing In hand served as restorative balm. Such a gift of hospitality created a different kind of space, as one participant noted and appreciated “being given the space to be vulnerable.” Of course, that vulnerable space wasn’t just in talk or study or worship; some of that vulnerable space emerged one evening through the incredible work of a stand-up comic who hosted a “Whose Line Is It Anyway” kind of event filled with improv games and much needed laughter. Who knew that laughter, comedy, and a whole lot of improvisation could help dust off some of that glitter as well and invent us as we were before … Well, before all that other stuff got in the way of a good laugh. Certainly there are lots of reasons to go to Austin: a trip to Toy Joy, a boat tour of the bats at the Congress Avenue Bridge, a taste of Guero’s Taco Bar, and a lick of Amy’s Ice Cream. We go to assist, as we may, in keeping Austin weird. But I’m glad, grateful through and through, that I set aside time this past May to walk among the pecan and oak trees on the Seminary campus to dust off the glitter that accumulated amid all the odd glitz of ministry. There’s no better font than the one in Shelton Chapel for a little washing and a whole lot of re-posturing before the Lord our God. I got rid of the glitter problem, in my soul, if not in my car seats. After this retreat, now that I’m back at home, I have new eyes to see the glitter that matters, and the glint that distracts. All that pomp has yielded to the promises that matter—new colleagues with whom to process, laugh, and pray. I reclaimed a little whitespace and know now that it is not extravagant. Whitespace without the glitter is absolutely essential. v
EBW Workshop: The Law of Someday “The Law of Someday: Generations, Giving, and Church Life” Karl Travis believes our birth year shapes how we understand the world and behave in it. He uses generational theory to help pastors understand people’s attitudes and practices in relation to money and generosity. But, he says, no matter the generation, remember the Law of Someday … … we’re just married and getting ourselves established financially. Someday we’ll get serious about our sharing. … our children are young and hideously expensive! We’re doing our best to stock up for their college educations. Someday we’ll get serious about our sharing. … the children are gone and we have just a few years to invest for our retirement. Someday we’ll get serious about our sharing. … we’ve retired, and now we live on a fixed income. Someday … In this essay, Travis digs beneath the generational theory to unearth the theological tensions inherent in stewardship and lift up the fundamental importance of generosity.
Stewardship: Managing or Sharing?
friend in the Northeast sits on the board of a historically Presbyterian retirement home network. As often happens, the board recently pondered the removal of the word Presbyterian from its name. Consultants were hired. Community surveys were conducted. Turns out, the region has a positive reaction to that old word, Presbyterian. The public’s number one association with Presbyterians was that “they handle money well.” The board will keep Presbyterian.
The Reverend Karl Travis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth, Texas. A frequent conference speaker, particularly in the areas of Christian stewardship and generations theory, he serves on the Austin Seminary Board and as a teacher for Revaluing Money, a cohort group for pastors seeking to transform their own and their congregation’s relationship with money, possessions, and generosity. 19
Reaching Out / Drawing In We are known for wise financial management, and, given our history, that is no surprise. Our Board of Pensions traces its beginnings from 1718 and the Synod of Philadelphia’s “fund for pious uses.” Today that fund, fully vested, carefully managed, ably cares for tens of thousands of the church’s servants. The General Assembly incorporated what is now our Presbyterian Foundation in 1799. The Foundation currently manages $1.6 billion, dollars which nurture mission around the world. The congregation I serve has been remarkably well remembered by past generations and is able to engage ministries unimaginable without former generosities. We are prudent Presbyterians. We “handle money well.” There is an old story that the word stewardship is derived from a term first appearing in the 12th century: sty-ward (Merriam-Webster dictionary). A sty is where pigs are kept, and, as the tale has it, only the most honored of clansmen were trusted to protect the community’s pigs. Hence, the ward of the sty became an example of wise management. That image—a bearded, kilt-laden, foul-breathed Scot safeguarding the swine—seems a long way from the board rooms of the Board of Pensions or the Presbyterian Foundation, with their long wooden tables circled by well educated, nicely dressed, deeply decent Presbyterians. Chances are, your congregation’s Session or Board or Vestry looks pretty much the same. Sty-wards. The sty-ward story is interesting, but we have rightly drawn our deepest understandings of stewardship from the Bible. “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (Psalm 24.1). God is creator and owner of all that is. And yet, God has generously shared all that is with human beings, holding nothing back. As Noah and his family prepare to repopulate the earth, God says to them, “I give you everything” (Genesis 9.3). Our stewardship task, then, is what to do with God’s stuff. From here, the tension begins. From the command to tithe—found in Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—many have taken a rather fixed approach to stewardship task. It has to do with numbers, with percentages, with formulas. It has to do, in a word, with management. Students of the Old Testament are quick to point out that Hebraic stewardship is about much more than management. Think of the prophets. It has to do with justice and equity and shalom. Nonetheless, ask most Christians about stewardship in the Old Testament and the managerial offering of the first ten percent will leap into the conversation. New Testament teaching about stewardship is all over the place, and, while the formulaic tithe makes only peripheral appearances in the New Testament, still, the impulse to equate stewardship with management finds easy justification in the gospels. Consider the Parable of the Talents. Before leaving on a journey a man leaves three servants with talents. To one he leaves five, to another three, and to the last, one talent. Upon his return he lauds the servants who have multiplied their talents but chastises the servant who has buried his talent. “You ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.” The message could not be more clear. This parable praises wise management. Misread this parable as a teaching only about money, throw in John Calvin’s precedent-setting endorsement of “reasonable interest,” and add for
EBW Workshop: The Law of Someday g ood measure the writing of a certain Scottish Presbyterian—Adam Smith—and we have the perfect formula for equating stewardship with management. Society seems to have taken our cue, too. Scour the Internet for references to stewardship and you will be interested to find it used regularly, and rather elastically. Companies of all sorts include it in their mission statements and their management philosophies. Auto companies, oil companies, mining companies, and certainly wealth-management and investment firms have each embraced the term stewardship. And, in most every such application, stewardship is used almost synonymously with the word “management.” In the economy, stewardship is used to describe the wise management of resources and the sustainability of the business using the word. Mostly, this is an appropriate use of the term. But management is not the only meaning of stewardship, not biblically, not for people of faith. The New Testament presents an additional sense to the word’s meaning. This deeper sense is best embodied in the story of the widow’s mite. Jesus, sitting opposite the treasury, witnesses an old woman sacrificing two copper coins, a small amount but all she has. Jesus compares her generosity to those who have given larger amounts but smaller percentages of what they own. Comparably, the widow has given more. Jesus praises her for her sacrifice. Jesus is also labeling the hypocrisy of the wealthy who share less and yet who also “devour widows’ houses.” The story of the widow’s mite is about injustice and about duplicity, and it is also about a widow’s remarkable generosity despite being victimized by both. This additional word, then, this complimentary word which adds depth to our understanding of stewardship as management, is “generosity.” Stewardship is about management. And, stewardship is about generosity. I suspect, then, that the ultimate stewardship question confronting most American Protestants is how to be good managers, and how to be generous, in one’s individual circumstance. Faithfulness inspires an intentional balance between wise management and sacrificial generosity. To the wealthy, the message is clear. Wise management is not an end unto itself. Wise management is generosity’s tool. Wise management assures that generosity is both liberal and sustainable. That is the lovely task of those who sit at tables of deliberation at the Board of Pensions and the Presbyterian Foundation and the Texas Presbyterian Foundation and at your congregation. We manage God’s resources for distribution, not for accumulation. We manage wealth for distributive justice, not for structured inequality. We manage God’s stuff so that more of God’s people have a reasonable chance at sharing in it. Contemplate the advice of John Calvin, a theologian who made provision for loaning with reasonable interest. “Let this, therefore, be our rule for generosity and beneficence: We are the stewards of everything God has conferred on us by which we are able to help our neighbor, and are required to render account of our stewardship.”1 And lest we think that the selfish use of wealth is without spiritual consequence, William Bouwsma quotes Calvin’s Commentary on John, reminding us that the rich “must one day give a reckoning of their vast wealth, that they may
Reaching Out / Drawing In carefully and faithfully apply their abundance to good uses approved by God.”2 The great temptation of stewardship-as-management is its sexy allure to accumulation and its magnetic draw towards mastering the market. Like any technique, the processes for increasing wealth can become the destination itself rather than a path to a more noble endpoint. For those with resources to manage, God be praised. For those with resources to manage, God be served. To Christians less than wealthy, the message is likewise clear. Most of us have resources to manage. Even if one does not have excess wealth, even if one has need for neither a stockbroker nor an accountant, still we are called to wise management as a tool for generosity. I am now better paid than ever I imagined I would be. For the first time in my adult life I have more than I need. After the bills are paid, there are leftovers. My family has long teased me about my frugality. Despite now having leftovers, the frugality lingers. It used to be that my question at the grocery store, the electronics store, at the auto dealership, was, “Can we afford this?” Now my question is, “Do we need this?” It is a better question, a more honest question. There is something profoundly liberating about making wants distinct from needs. I admit that sometimes I buy what I merely want, and that can be okay, though I find Christ and Calvin clinking around my psyche. Interestingly, and in a modern replay of the widow’s mite, The Chronicle of Philanthropy has recently published the findings of a massive study revealing that since the great recession of 2008, giving among middle and lower class Americans has increased. However, “the wealthiest Americans—those who earned $200,000 or more—reduced the share of income they gave to charity by 4.6 percent from 2006 to 2012. Meanwhile, Americans who earned less than $100,000 chipped in 4.5 percent more of their income during the same time period. Middle- and lowerincome Americans increased the share of income they donated to charity, even as they earned less, on average, than they did six years earlier.”3 But here’s the most astounding reality; in the same time period, those who made $25,000 or less increased charitable giving by 16.6 percent. If stewardship is as much about sharing as it is about managing, here is evidence that often, those with less to manage, manage to give more of what they have. Someone told me once about a brilliant sermon on parenting. “Which do you say to your kids as they leave in the morning,” the preacher asked? “Do you say, Do your best, or do you say, I love you”? Two similar questions might be asked of all Christian stewards, poised as we are between management and generosity. Are you called to manage God’s stuff? Or, are you called to share God’s stuff? The answer, of course, is yes. D. All of the above. That said, if I am forced to choose between the two answers, I choose sharing. I have a dream. In it, some public-relations consultant conducts a massive longitudinal survey asking the community what comes to mind upon hearing the word
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EBW Workshop: Leading in a Diverse World “Leading in a Diverse World” Competent leaders in a diverse and changing world need to be able to relate to people from many different backgrounds, belief systems, races, and cultures— whether from outside the U.S., from neighborhoods around the corner, or from where people are “spiritual but not religious.” Competent leaders must learn how to create space in which people can connect with each other authentically. In the multi-day workshop, “Leading in a Diverse World,” Eric Law showed leaders how to recognize the barriers (visible and invisible) that interfere with making connections in community and to identify the lenses through which they see the world—the “glasses they forgot they were wearing.” Here you learn his approach to increasing understanding in situations where people who are not alike interact in groups, congregations, or other institutions.
Leadership for a Multicultural World
Eric H. F. Law
e live in a multicultural world. There is more than one cultural group residing in most communities or neighborhoods. Phrases like “All Are Welcome,” “Open Minds, Open Hearts, Open Doors,” and “We are a welcoming and inclusive community” are seen on many church signs and in many church mission statements. Christian churches yearn to include people from many different cultures and backgrounds. Yet, one can observe that many Christian communities still function out of a monocultural mindset that leads them to form communities that include only people who are culturally very similar to each other. Christian leaders often find ourselves living in the tension between wanting to be multiculturally inclusive and the reality of existing monocultural church communities.
The Reverend Dr. Eric Law is an Episcopal priest and founder and executive director
of the Kaleidoscope Institute for Competent Leadership in a Diverse, Changing World, the mission of which is to create inclusive and sustainable churches and communities. He is the author of seven books including The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb and, his latest, Holy Currencies: Six Blessings for Sustainable Missional Ministries.
Reaching Out / Drawing In From Tower of Babel to Pentecost Now the whole earth had one language and the same words … And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. And the Lord said, “Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore it was called Babel . . . (Genesis 11:1-9) In this ancient story that postulated the origin of diverse languages and cultures in the world, we see that it was God who caused the movement from monolingual to multilingual, from monocultural to multicultural. The theological problem of monoculturalism is that people become so sure of themselves that they believe they can reach heaven through their technology—brick for stone and bitumen for mortar—and that they can become gods who live in heaven and have a name for others to worship. Idolatry was the offense that God tried to address in the story of the Tower of Babel by creating a multicultural world.1 By confusing their language, God reminded them that they were not gods. The frustration of not being able to communicate and eventually being scattered across the earth was only the beginning of a process that set the ground for greater action by God in human history. For Christians, the completion of the process came at Pentecost,2 a multicultural inclusive event where people with different languages and cultures were able to communicate with each other, recognizing the mighty works of God. The journey from the Tower of Babel to Pentecost is the road that Christian leaders must travel—moving from a monocultural to a multicultural inclusive approach to leadership. The symbol of the Tower of Babel can be seen as our ethnocentrism, which is the mindset that assumes the superiority of one’s own cultural worldview.3 Based on our assumptions, values, and beliefs, we build our separate ethnocentric towers. As our tower gets taller and taller, we create more distance and separation from others who are different. The creation of diversity is God’s way of challenging us to abandon our ethnocentric towers to meet each other on level ground. This process requires that we acknowledge our cultural assumptions, values, and beliefs as distinctive from others who are different. As we struggle to overcome intercultural barriers, we recognize that each cultural group, with its unique context, experiences God differently. We realize that God is not confined by any one culture. Instead, God moves in and alongside each culture to challenge and affirm each according to its strengths and weaknesses. The struggle to communicate
EBW Workshop: Leading in a Diverse World across cultural and language barriers helps us see more clearly who God is in our lives and ministries and how God may interact differently with others. The movement toward a true multicultural community not only reconnects people of diverse cultures; it also invites us to reconnect with God whose mighty work is above and beyond our separate cultures. “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”4
Iceberg Analogy of Culture According to the American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, “culture” is defined as: The sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. Culture is transmitted—through language, material objects, ritual, institutions, and art—from one generation to the next.5 Each culture has its own characteristics, values, beliefs, patterns, and customs. In order to understand the deeper implication of leadership in a multicultural community, it is helpful to look at our cultural make-up in two parts: external and internal. The image of the iceberg can help us understand this better. An iceberg has a small visible part above water and a very large and irregular part under the water. The part above water can represent external cultural and the part under the surface can represent internal culture.6 External culture is the conscious part of culture. It is the part that we can see, hear, taste, and touch. It consists of acknowledged beliefs and values. It is explicitly learned and can be easily changed. However, this constitutes only a small part of our culture; the greater part of our cultural makeup is the internal part, which consists of the unconscious beliefs, thought patterns, values, and myths that affect everything we do and see. It is implicitly learned and is very hard to change.
External Cultural Most of the time, when we think of multicultural community, we focus on the inclusion of external cultures such as music, dance, food, and art. Sometimes we think that by having people from different cultures in one room physically or using the same space, we have created a multicultural community. But most of time, these approaches are not true inclusion because they only address external culture. We are puzzled as to why they avoid having real conversations with each other and why they do not get along. A true multicultural community must take into account the larger part of our cultural iceberg—the internal culture.
Internal Culture Our hidden internal culture governs the way we think, perceive, and behave unconsciously. This is what I call the “instinct” of our cultures. Instinct as defined in Webster’s Dictionary is an “inborn tendency to behave in a way characteristic of a species: natural response to stimuli.” The cultural environment in which we grew up shapes the way we behave and think. Implicit in this cultural environment are the cultural myths, values, beliefs, and thought patterns that influence our behav-
Reaching Out / Drawing In ior and the way we perceive and respond to our surroundings. We are conditioned to react to our environment in particular ways that are not very different from an instinctual physical reaction to stimuli. We interpret what we see and hear according to these unconscious values and thought patterns and we respond instinctually. The internal cultural elements are very hard to change unless we find ways to acknowledge them and to understand how they impact the way we relate to ourselves, others, and the environment.
Intercultural Conflicts and Self-Awareness In a multicultural community, we are dealing with multiple cultural icebergs within the same environment. Intercultural conflicts are inevitable. Cultural clashes do not happen on the external, conscious level. We can easily change behaviors based on conscious values and beliefs in order to adapt and accommodate to the situation. We can even modify our acknowledged beliefs and values with some intellectual reasoning and reflection. Most cultural clashes, however, happen on the internal unconscious level—on the instinctual level where the parties involved are not even conscious of why they feel and react the way they do. Since each person thinks only in his or her own thought pattern, he or she cannot even understand why the others do not perceive things the same way. It is like two icebergs bumping each other under the water. On the surface they appear to be at a safe distance from each other. This communication breakdown may create a mutual animosity, causing people to be defensive without knowing the reason why. A key quality of leadership for multicultural community is self-awareness— particularly awareness of one’s internal culture. As leaders, we must achieve a deeper understanding of our values and beliefs, strengths and weaknesses, power and privilege that come with our role and background. This means revealing unconscious values and thought patterns so that we will not simply react from our cultural instinct. The more we learn about our internal culture, the more we are aware of how our cultural values and thought patterns differ from others. Knowing this difference will help us make self-adjustments in order to live peacefully with people from other cultures. As Christians, we are often called to go against our instinct. Jesus Christ invites us to take up the cross and follow him. It goes against our instinct of survival to take up the cross—an instrument of the cruelest capital punishment. Yet, Jesus invites us to face our instincts squarely and not be afraid.
Conclusion God created human beings with our wonderful diversity. Christian leaders for multicultural communities need to honor and struggle through this faithful journey from the Tower of Babel to Pentecost, from the monocultural to the multicultural mindset and approach to differences. The first step is self-awareness—an active and continuous exploration of our internal cultural values, beliefs, patterns, and myths. The big question is: How does one learn about things that one is not conscious of? Here are some of the ways I have found helpful in my journey:
EBW Workshop: Leading in a Diverse World 1. Adopt an active self-reflection discipline. Ponder regularly on intercultural experiences and ask, “Why did I react the way I did? What might be the values, beliefs, and cultural patterns and assumptions that caused me to have this reaction?” 2. Engage in activities that provide constructive intercultural encounter. Attend workshops and trainings that provide faithful “cultural iceberg bumping” that results in achieving deeper self-awareness as well as intercultural understanding. 3. Read about cultural differences. Cultural anthropology and intercultural studies provide many resources for this development of our self-knowledge through their identification of the many cultural variables that exist among culture groups. Reflect on how these cultural descriptions and analyses connect with your own internal culture and their implication for leadership in a multicultural community. 4. Practice active theological reflection on the implications of cultural differences that exist in our multicultural world. Where is God and what is God doing in God’s multicultural world? And what are you called to do, be, or change in this narrative? v Notes
1. Eric H. F. Law. The Bush Was Blazing But Not Consumed (St. Louis, MO: Chalice, 1996).
2. Acts 2:1-11.
3. M.J. Bennett, “Towards a Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity” in R.M. Paige (ed.), Education for the Intercultural Experience. (Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural, 1993).
4. Acts 2:12.
5. Culture. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/culture (accessed: December 28, 2011). 6. Eric H. F. Law. The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb—A Spirituality for Leadership in a Multicultural Community (St. Louis, MO: Chalice, 1993). See also Eric H. F. Law. Inclusion: Making Room for Grace (St. Louis, MO: Chalice, 2002).
Reaching Out / Drawing In
The Tip of the Iceberg A Participant Responds to “Leading in a Diverse World”
Kyung Chun “KC” Kyle
found Eric Law’s workshop, “Leading in a Diverse World,” to be of value because diversity is everywhere. Whether you are from a small town, suburb, or are in the throngs of the inner city, you cannot hide from a multiplicity of people from all over the world, of varying age groups, or cultural backgrounds. Eric Law presented very well a survey of what it means to communicate, interact, and care for fellow leaders and congregation members in a diverse setting. Whether there are homogenous congregations in a diverse neighborhood or a majority-culture church with minority groups in the congregation, there was something to take away from his teaching. Reverend Law pressed us to look at our histories with depth and seriousness. Having adopted the script of my immigrant parents, even as a Christian, I have looked at “making it” as salvation. Most closely, “making it” means being white in America because being white means having privilege. My cultural history of oppression and immigration leads to a story where I do not focus on the gospel, that is, on loving my sister and brother, because I am too busy with trying to be privileged. This is one story that was present at the conference, and I felt it was lifted up as equal to any other in the room. Through this experience, I learned that diversity in leadership is important because we cannot appreciate diversity without understanding and appreciating our own history and background. As one of the few people of color in the conference, especially as a recent immigrant, I was able to describe in detail my cultural and ethnic history which informed my place in the Christian story. For a majority of our group, white Euro-Americans, there is an understanding of white culture taken as the general history for all, even as people in the room were of different economic and ethnic backgrounds. This
KC Kyle is on staff at Church of Nations (Minnesota) and is seeking a call to the ordained ministry. He is also a Recycling Coordinator for a suburb of Minneapolis and CEO of a small-business start-up that makes Korean hot-sauce. Mr. Kye participated in “Leading in a Diverse World” while serving on the Presbyterian Multicultural Network Board of Directors. 28
EBW Workshop: Leading in a Diverse World understanding of whiteness, that is universalizing and pervasive, stems from a history of white supremacy and not the Bible. It is hard to dispel and blocks us from seeing our histories honestly. I see how a congregant’s history, wrapped up in this type of culture, without historic or racial or ethnic particularities or real opportunity for other paradigms, holds little power in both white and Korean mono-ethnic churches. However, as we began to share about each person’s “eating experience” growing up, we were able to see many similarities between our cultures and generations. We also learned about family systems and high context / low context styles of communication—all of which revealed futher complexities of leading diverse groups. This short experience showed us the tip of the iceberg, to use Rev. Law’s metaphor. Without a clearer understanding of our individual ethnic/racial histories, it was hard to discuss the topic of power and the dynamics in racially diverse settings within the church. It might have been easier had we come together in a confessional posture rather than one of raising awareness. Since we did not engage the U.S.’s history of oppression and discrimination with regard to race and gender as a collective exercise, we lacked an adequate vision for learning to lead in a diverse world, let alone a diverse church. Both an individual and collective history as systemic claiming of responsibility are needed to create space for moving toward reconciliation.v
Reaching Out / Drawing In Revaluing Money We built the cohort model for Revaluing Money—and the College of Pastoral Leaders and Fellowships in Pastoral Leadership for Public Life—on the belief that significant transformation happens in community and over time. In this essay, we peek into the world of developmental psychology and innovation to explore this assumption from a fresh perspective. Dr. McCormick shows us how cutting edge thinkers debunk one of Americans’ central idolatries—the Rugged Individual—and how they understand one of our core theological truths: people need relationship to come fully alive. She brings these insights into the theme of our relationship with money— the thing no one talks about and that can’t be changed by oneself alone.
The Power of Two … or More Marilyn McCormick
here’s a new book out by Joshua Wolf Shenk titled Powers of Two: Finding Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs. In his book, Shenk begins by highlighting how deeply enthralled our culture is with the myth of the stalwart, lone individual who, with steady hands and eyes on the prize, brings forth some celebrated result. Stories of such heroes’ determination are taught in our schools and held up as exemplars so that each young person is encouraged to set their sights on a chosen prize, muster up grit and determination, and dazzle us all with an amazing success. Similar stories are passed on in many families—I know they have been in mine—about how great grandpa stuck it out on the homestead and cultivated the land still in our family today, or how Aunt Dee ultimately travelled the world and had a great career with a famous oil company despite tragically losing her husband
Dr. Marilyn McCormick is a core faculty member at Capella University, director
of Wellspring Counseling and Consulting, board-certified coach, and a licensed mental health counselor and supervisor. The author of books and many articles on counseling and optimal human development, particularly identity development, she serves as cofacilitator and coach for pastors in EBW’s Revaluing Money program.
Revaluing Money to an accident suffered in their youth. And yes, many a series on “Heroes and Heroines of the Bible” are taught in churches across the land, evoking examples of the lone, and often lonely, faithful followers of God who ultimately prevailed. Shenk writes persuasively about a different impetus for those who achieve, offering examples of how, upon deeper exploration, many of our “lone genius” models offer evidence to the contrary. His book is not about the hidden muses behind our poets or the supportive friends and spouses that foster prime conditions for the overachiever. Instead, he brings his focus to the enlivening spark that can happen between people who find themselves jointly focusing on something of high interest—the spark that ignites creativity, excitement, and innovation. And he persuasively argues that creative pairs have brought forth more of the achievements, advances, discoveries, and art than we will ever know. I’m rather inclined to believe his premise because I know about the critical importance of a process developmental psychologists call “joint attention.” Joint attention is something we begin to hold with others in our first year of life, and its developmental significance for all aspects of our development—social, cognitive, emotional, even physical—cannot be underestimated. Joint attention can involve mutual gaze, which is what happens with an infant and parent are looking at each other’s face, or shared gaze, when both of them are looking at an object or event with mutual interest. Of course, in reality, the gaze dance goes back and forth— pairs look at each other and look at objects of interests in a dance that flows together and often generates a rising tide of smiles and glee. It seems that beginning very early in life we love engaging in “mutual visual regard with shared positive affect,” and this is generative and life-giving. Daniel Stern, a renowned student of early development, coined a term for speaking about the flow of feeling that happens when an infant—or an adult—is attentive, activated, and joyful; he called it the “vitality contour” of our subjective experience in our social world. Shenk’s idea that this inclination for joint engagement is alive and well within happy, energized, and vital creative pairs of adults doesn’t surprise me at all! Now consider an individual who has this thought: “Something needs to be different … but I don’t know quite what, or where to start.” Based on personal observation and the confessions of many people I have talked to through the years, most of us think this thought over and over again (rather uncreatively) about a variety of topics. Perhaps this redundant refrain in our minds is a particular vulnerability for those who serve others from a standpoint of also seeking Good … because there is always something on our horizon that could get better, should be better, would sure be a better witness to the world if it was better … including our relationship with money. Instead of solitary and diffuse background pondering, one can bring questions about all aspects of one’s own saving, spending, desiring, and despising money to the foreground for thoughtful and prayerful consideration. With our favorite conversation partners, we can critique aspects of our culture’s relationship with money—and our own congregation’s—and share ideas about what could get better
Reaching Out / Drawing In and should be better, and what surely God would, and wouldn’t, want us to be doing with money. But at the end of these inner and outer conversations, how can we move toward making a change? In our culture, our churches, and our private and public lives, we desperately need some new ways to wield this tool we call money. But it is such an immense concept … and the tides of culture are so strong … what can actually be done? Where to start? Right at this point of questioning, I believe Shenk and the developmental psychologists offer us some wisdom: find someone you resonate with who wants to focus on the same thing. Join with them in giving attention to this amorphous-yetso-tangible entity, money. Play with the ideas, the images, and the insights together. Hover over the stories of money in our lives together, looking for threads and clues. Bring “joint attention” in prayer. Then wait and see what happens. If Shenk is right, we’ll be so much more likely to find a breakthrough if we harness the power of two, or more, in our search for answers.
Harnessing the Power of Two The creative pairs that Shenk presents for our inspection happened upon each other by chance, for the most part. When Józef Kowalski found out that Marie needed lab space, he introduced her to Pierre Curie. When Bill Fernandez introduced a couple of his garage “electronics buddies” to each other, Steve J. and Steve W. found their famous connection. In these instances, once the connections were made and projects requiring joint attention emerged, the partnerships developed the unique vitality that fostered creating something new. But these examples leave us to wonder how we might be so lucky as to meet someone who generates our best new ideas. Ministers are disciplined in the power of intentional focus as well as in awaiting grace-touched unexpected encounters and breakthroughs. Continuing education courses, retreats, and pilgrimages are all examples of ways that we create a space where something new can happen, sparked through intentional generative encounters. The Revaluing Money experience creates time, spaces, and opportunities for relationships in which to do this for a year, inviting participants to move from the private consideration of “something needs to be different about me and money … but what, and how?” to an intentional focus, within a learning community, on three specific questions: What is my relationship with money? What is my practical theology? How am I called to respond? In addition to opportunities to learn from church leaders and other members of the group and to foster self-examination and discovery, the Revaluing Money learning experience includes the opportunity to spend some time working one-onone with a coach. Coaching is another new (yet old) discipline that has become available to meet a need in modern times. Similar to, but different from, relationships established for spiritual direction, it is a concentration of the “power of two” for a specific purpose, for a specific time, by agreement. In Revaluing Money, coaching conversations create a concentrated focus on personal money questions. Conversations support individuals in looking at both the breadth and details of their money
Revaluing Money challenges, and finding clues that release creative sparks when stuck and puzzling patterns are examined, then shifted. Like the adults engaging with infants who are discovering their world and experimenting with an object that has captured their attention (be it a box of Kleenex or a dog’s tail), a coach comes alongside and harnesses the power of joint attention to foster discovery, then action. Through interaction that is often joyful and fun, a new habit or pathway may present itself for consideration. The result might be a real plan for reducing personal debt ... a family budget that truly reflects God’s calling … a breakthrough in understanding the need to keep the “stuff” one lugs through life (and let some of it go) ... supporting a church in developing its first reality-based budget … more grace and ease in preaching the “money sermons” … or a community project that illuminates the church’s power to set the captives free (of debt). Who among us has not set these or similar goals privately—but with limited success? A coach steers the process of discovering private patterns and making changes toward playfulness and vitality, which can make change more sustainable than efforts of private determination. Change, in our times, is hard. Our connections with our culture have invaded every formerly solitary space experienced by previous generations, making it very challenging to steer a determined course since we can’t even think a complete thought without interruption! But the “power of two”—or more—is built in to us and available for helping us reform ourselves, our churches, and even the times in which we live. Seek interactions where you and others can bring a mutual and shared gaze to a challenge you want to tackle, earnestly, prayerfully, and playfully. Then stand back and watch for vitality sparks to fly. v Sources Cited D. A. Leavens, J. Sansone, A. Burfield, S. Lightfoot, S. O’Hara, and B. K. Todd, “Putting the ‘Joy’ in joint attention: Affective-gestural synchrony by parents who point for their babies.” Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 879. doi: http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00879/full Joshua Wold Shenk, Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs (New York, New York: Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014). D. Stern, Forms of Vitality: Exploring Dynamic Experience in Psychology and the Arts. (London, England: Oxford University Press, 2010).
Reaching Out / Drawing In In a sermon preached in Shelton Chapel in February, public relations expert Elizabeth Christian brought her professional skills to bear on Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians: In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. With this unbeatable messaging, she wondered, why are the ranks of the faithful shrinking? Why aren’t sanctuaries bursting at the seams with eager churchgoers? Why are young people so turned off by “religion”? Her answer in PR terms was that we, Jesus’ 21st-century sales force is, if you will, blowing it. We as a church are off message all too often. The good news, Ms. Christian shared, is that fixing messaging problems when the underlying product is excellent almost always involves merely tweaking communications. To do that, however, we first have to grasp where we’ve gone wrong. Excerpted from her sermon, below, are her recommendations for getting back on message.
The Seven Deadly Sins of Messaging Elizabeth Christian 1. We talk about the who and the what but we forget the HOW—that which sets Christianity apart, which differentiates it from everything else. This is akin to pronouncing: “We believe in a Triune God” … and then … stopping. The listener is left wondering a) what does “triune” mean, and b) why do I care? Instead, we should consider staying on message as Jesus always did—for instance, when he teaches the crowd the Lord’s Prayer, he tells people to forgive others for their trespasses BECAUSE the Lord has forgiven you. He sets up a problem but goes on to solve the problem for the listener. Notice the structure of His response: You’ve
Elizabeth Christian is president of Elizabeth Christian Public Relations in Austin, Texas. During her thirty-seven-year career in public relations, journalism, and political affairs, she has led significant projects including the 2007 Tribute to former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson. A member of the Austin Seminary Board of Trustees, she currently serves as president of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation and is a member of the Austin Area Research Organization. 34
Perspective from the Pew got a problem (trespasses), we have a solution (God has forgiven you so you can forgive others). 2. We forget to offer specific, actionable advice from our pulpits, advice that guides the listener back into a relationship with God. We’ve all sat through excruciating sermons that purport to be inspirational stories but that are actually either vehicles to make a self-centered preacher look like a hero OR are calculated to bring a lump to listeners’ throats. All too often, these kinds of sermons end up being one-sided performance pieces that no one remembers fifteen minutes after they get home. Great, true personal stories that you can make relevant to your audience are wonderful—keep ’em coming. From a public relations practitioner’s standpoint, though, the messaging mistake comes when we forget to turn a lecture into a dialogue. In my world, you have to “use your words,” just like we tell our three-year-olds. Specifically ask people, after you’ve finished a story, to think about what it might mean to them and how pieces of it may help them with their problems. Urge anyone who wants to continue that dialogue to come see you—I’m amazed at how many pastors fail to proactively offer an open door Monday-Saturday, not just a speech on Sunday. 3. We talk about the rewards of faith and prayer being material abundance and claim that God put us on Earth to enjoy riches. Christian churches that are putting this word out are actually doing Christians deep damage, in my opinion. The promise initially sounds good—it gets short-term buyers—but then when life unfolds in its usual messy, joyful, sad, tragic, up-and-down way, those buyers realize they were sold a bill of goods. I don’t believe that when Jesus said, in no uncertain terms, “Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it,” that he meant: Pray a lot and you will get rich. The dark downside to this message of abundance is that, if no such abundance comes, you feel a failure. That couldn’t be further off message from Jesus’ promise of forgiveness and eternal life. 4. We act judgmental toward, well, pretty much EVERYBODY. We let judging split churches, we wound people, we repel potential young members with our holier-than-thou messaging. Jesus could not have been clearer on this point; from Matthew 7, verse 1: “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged … you hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.” It’s a little mind-boggling that the people who claim to interpret Scripture the most strictly are often the very ones who blow past Jesus’ instruction on this point—but every time they do, they are off message. Again, they may get short-term customers with their message of fear and exclusivity, but—to use a sales term—the churn is going to catch up with them eventually. 5. We give sermons that resemble what a choir leader I know calls “Linda hymns.” His theory is that a hymn is not worth its weight in salt if you can substitute “Linda” for every mention of “Jesus” and end up with what sounds like a love song that could be played on Top 40 radio. How about this line from a popular
Reaching Out / Drawing In praise hymn: “Oh, I was made for this, to know your tender kiss … to know this love is mine!” That Linda is one lucky girl. On the other hand, Jesus’ message was often tough to hear, uncomfortable, puzzling—not the stuff of a pabulum-rich hymn or sermon. It’s OK to make people squirm in the pews. Find a way to bring up classic human failings and talk about them honestly. We cannot promise a feather bed— Jesus certainly never did. In fact, he said: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Help your listeners realize they need that sword, and show them how to use it. 6. We talk in windy, turgid ways about important subjects. Jesus often set forth parables that needed deep thought to understand—but he was never verbose. The more words we use, the tougher it is to hear our message. Imagine being a “seeker” in a Presbyterian church and having to recite during the service the answer to Question 194 from the Larger Catechism: What do we pray for in the fifth petition? Hold on—this is one loooong sentence: In the fifth petition, which is, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” acknowledging that we are and all others are guilty both of original and actual sin, and thereby become debtors to the justice of God, and neither we nor any other creature can make the least satisfaction for that debt; we pray for ourselves and others, that God of his free grace would, through the obedience and satisfaction of Christ apprehended and applied by faith, acquit us both from the guilt and punishment of sin, accept us in His Beloved, continue His favor and grace to us, pardon our daily failings and fill us with peace and joy, in giving us daily more and more assurance of forgiveness, which are the rather emboldened to ask, and encouraged to expect, when we have this testimony in ourselves, that we from the heart forgive others their offenses.” Very important stuff. Very, very hard to digest. This does not scream “SOLD” to me! 7. We are fearful of strong, unequivocal answers. The last message mistake is easy to make if we veer too far from scripture and become scared to debate issues, to take strong stands. Jesus, of course, never backed away from a good argument. A great example was when he was challenged by a lawyer about which commandment is the greatest—an obvious ploy to trip him up. He shuts this questioner down with no hemming or hawing, saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” A little later in that same chapter, still being pressed by the Pharisees about the identity of the Messiah, Jesus calmly asks “If David thus calls Him Lord, how can David be his son?” The next line always makes me laugh, as I imagine the Pharisees skulking away: “No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask Him any more questions.” We are not Jesus—we want members of our congregation to ask US questions—but we can learn from Him and not be fearful of strong, unequivocal answers. v
College of Pastoral Leaders The College of Pastoral Leaders The Heart + Spirit cohort are a group of clergy who live in Birmingham, Alabama, a city divided religiously, racially, culturally, economically. They are friends dedicated to bridging divisions and to seeking and sharing the best from their own traditions and the world’s religions. They are a Roman Catholic priest, Jewish rabbi, Presbyterian pastor, Episcopal priest, and Baptist preacher, advanced in their careers and seeking spiritual wisdom and holy space to enhance their congregations and communities. They spent a week in Albuquerque and Santa Fe last summer, visiting with Richard Rohr, OFM, at the Center for Action and Contemplation and practicing Zen meditation at the Upaya Retreat Center. Rabbi Miller concluded his report on their retreat with this reflection.
am telling you, we are rock stars. Everywhere we go, people look at us—a group of five men, obviously seasoned and ripe with experience, and they ask us who we are and what are we doing here? I stay silent. I don’t like to talk about what I do with strangers. I never know what I am going to get or who I am going to find sitting next to me. But Ed, the ever cheerful one, chimes in with glee, “I am a Presbyterian pastor. He is a Baptist preacher. He is an Episcopalian priest. He is a Roman Catholic priest. And he is a Jewish rabbi” (Ed, get real, the only kind of rabbis out there are Jewish, didya notice?). And people look at us in awe. “Wow! That is so great! Who could imagine? Yadda Yadda Yadda.” And I feel a little bemused.
Rabbi Jonathan Miller leads the congregation of Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham. Previously, he served as a rabbi in Los Angeles and Auckland, New Zealand. He was ordained at the New York Campus of Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion, after having graduated from Brandeis University. Rabbi Miller embraces the traditions of the congregation, while at the same time providing exciting and innovative programming. 37
Reaching Out / Drawing In Obviously, religion has a bad rap. It is seen in the psyche of most people as a source of division, perhaps the ultimate source of division among people. And I get it. We represent and embody ideas of differentiation—chosen vs. gentile; saved vs. unsaved; Catholic vs. those who would reform the Catholic Church; those predestined for grace, those to whom grace is freely given and those to whom grace comes who do not even know that they are getting it and those to whom grace is not an operative term; those who are gay and those who are straight and those who are celibate; and those who are in belief and in doubt and in both. I get it. The TV and newspapers depict a world that has harkened back to medieval times as our civilizations are riven by religion and its differences. People are killing each other today under their religious banners. And the winner of all these worldwide religious crusades is “none of the above.” When looked at with outside eyes, religions and religious people seem so disagreeable and unpleasant. I get it. Jennifer tended bar during our happy hour in Santa Fe on our last afternoon as we traveled back to Albuquerque. She was from Connecticut, and now she lives in Santa Fe and goes back and forth with her family. She practically fell over when she heard what we do and who we are. She was raised Mormon in Utah, moved to Connecticut as a child and gave that up. With a laugh, she said she raised her children “pagan” but they are good kids. OK. (Ed our smiling evangelist suggested she try church again, and Jennifer smiled that no way but thanks anyway smile.) Another none of the above. Chalk up another loss for religion. Sam sat with us at the Upaya house. He has been there for five months and just re-upped for a year. He is 24-years-old and had a bar mitzvah. It meant absolutely nothing to him. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara and worked for a year in Silicon Valley helping with a clean tech start-up. He was successful, but stressed out. He hated it, and he retreated to Zen practice to give him some calm and focus. Obviously, he never celebrated Shabbat in a serious way or engaged with the Jewish calendar or Kabalah. Frankly, I don’t blame him for going Zen. He wants some spiritual grounding, and San Francisco suburban Judaism didn’t give him anything. I asked him about his family. He is the youngest of three boys. His middle brother is a psychologist and tennis coach. His older brother is a heroin addict living on the streets of San Francisco for the past ten years. “My mother has come out to see me at Upaya. She likes it here. But my father isn’t really interested,” Sam explained. There is stuff going on there. But Judaism didn’t do it for him. I am glad he has found Buddhism and Zen. Better than none of the above, but of course I wished he would have found Judaism to fill him up. “Wow,” people say to us. “Look at you” as though we are religious oddities. And I suppose we are. We are not what religion looks like to the outsiders, and to many of the insiders, too, who have little vision and even less spirit. Our being together is so natural for us. We have studied and shared and argued and grown together and loved each other for more than a decade. We know what each other drinks and what they will order at a restaurant. We know each other’s answers before the questions are offered up. And really, embodied in our group is
College of Pastoral Leaders a singular kind of spirituality, even as we discuss and even argue about doctrine, dogma, practice, and our religions’ neuroses. Our experience together has been wonderful and apparently quite unusual. Both the wonder and the unusual nature of our fellowship was strengthened this week as we engaged with Buddhism and our maturing spirituality. We are an oddity. Would that there would be more odd ones out there doing the work of the faithful and proclaiming and living faith and religious commitment. v
Continued from page 19 Presbyterian. The second most frequent response is, “They handle money well.” The first is, “They are generous.” On my way to work this morning I passed a blood clinic truck, one of those mobile units they send to schools and businesses. Its side was plastered with these words. “You have what it takes. Give today.” Well said. v NOTES
1. John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, III, vii, 5.
2. William J. Bouwsma, John Calvin: A Sixteenth Century Portrait. (Oxford University Press USA, 1989.) 3. Alex Daniels, “As Wealthy Give Smaller Share of Income to Charity, Middle Class Digs Deeper,” The Chronicle of Philanthropy, October 5, 2014.
Education Beyond the Walls Education Beyond the Walls is the outward-looking educational face of Austin Seminary, providing lifelong learning and fresh, innovative, and expansive theological education for clergy, church leaders, congregations, and communities. Established in 2011, Education Beyond the Walls (EBW) sits at the intersection of church and academy, and draws upon the deep resources of both to craft creative responses to emerging needs of church leaders. Austin Seminary serves the church in the traditional way by providing people with a call to ministry with a classical education. But we also recognize the need for a more expansive vision to meet people called to many forms of ministry where they are, in their own journeys. We invite them into communities of learning that will support their flourishing, as leaders of the church and as disciples of Jesus Christ. Many learners are formed explicitly and excellently through our degree programs (masters and doctoral levels) and the Certificate in Ministry. Other learners gather in settings beyond the degree-granting specifications of seminary curricula. Learning Communities for Practicing Clergy • The College of Pastoral Leaders offers financial support in the form of grants to self-selected groups of pastors so that they may pursue their own self-designed program for renewal, vitality, and pastoral excellence. • Revaluing Money provides a deep dive into issues relating to money, possessions, and practical theology in a three-retreat experience for a cohort of pastors who are accepted into the program. • Fellowships in Pastoral Leadership for Public Life invite pastors to the intersection of the Good News and the common good, stretching their vision, their capacities, and their confidence to change their leadership for life. Short Courses for Practitioners • Christian education events are offered each fall and spring. • Emerging issues in leadership are addressed each year. Topics have included bi-vocational ministry, storytelling as mission outreach, and developing diverse cultural capacities. One Day Intensives • Crossing the Border, a ongoing program, provides a day of Scripture study, theology, and reflection led by prominent Hispanic professors to focus on the experience of Hispanic and Latina/o people in the Southwest. • Worship is the focus of one intensive each fall and each spring. • Innovative practitioners present a variety of topics, including art, biblical storytelling, and other creative explorations. Partnerships EBW draws resources not only from the Austin Seminary faculty, but also from outside the Seminary community. We currently have partnerships with the Association of Presbyterian Tentmakers, Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest, SCRAPCE (South Central Region of the Association of Presbyterian Christian Educators), Seminary of the Southwest, Seton Family Healthcare Network, The University of Texas Office of Disability Studies, and The University of Texas School of Social Work Office of Continuing Education.
For information about current EBW opportunities visit AustinSeminary.edu/EBW or call 512-404-4867. 40
Theodore J. Wardlaw
Board of Trustees Thomas L. Are Jr., Chair
James Allison Karen C. Anderson Whit Bodman Janice Bryant (MDiv’01, DMin’11) Claudia D. Carroll Elizabeth Christian Joseph J. Clifford James B. Crawley Katherine Cummings (MDiv’05) Consuelo Donahue (MDiv’96) Jackson Farrow Jr. Elizabeth Blanton Flowers G. Archer Frierson Richard D. Gillham Walter Harris Jr. John Hartman Ann Herlin (MDiv’01)
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Trustees Emeriti Stephen A. Matthews John McCoy (MDiv’63) Max Sherman Louis Zbinden
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