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Showing posts from January, 2013

the tree

I am facilitating a spiritual formation course on Tuesday evenings based on the book, The Good and Beautiful God.  Basically, the book deals with aligning our perceptions of God with the God that Jesus presents in the New Testament.  It is a well-structured study with accessible language, group learning, and a spiritual discipline exercise (the author calls it soul-training) at the end of every chapter.  This week we were to spend 5 minutes in silence every day and take some time to observe creation.

Sounds simple, and I basically do these two things most every day anyway.  But, as always seems to happen, the very week I am to practice these disciplines and write something about them, my schedule is turned on its ear.  I was working as a conference assistant for 3 days which meant early mornings and long days inside a classroom downtown.  In addition, I had a house guest for 4 days which means that my alone/silent time could not be done in the place and time I normally do it.  It was…

do you want to be a professor?

There is a question I get asked quite often that I don't really like answering.  The question is:  What will you do after you graduate?  I usually smile, say that I'll find out when the time comes, remind the person (and myself) that a lot of things can change between now and then, and mention that doors tend to open up as one goes along.  All of that is true, of course, but it is only the partial truth.  I don't usually mention that getting an academic job is quite difficult, especially in a field like theology which is being relegated more and more to seminaries and bible colleges.  The other thing I don't usually talk about is the rather arcane, laborious, and lengthy process required to get a tenured (stable) job as a professor in a university. 

There is a continuous pressure for graduate students like me to be involved in cutting edge research, to be publishing in renowned journals, to be presenting papers at prestigious conferences, to be "winning" gr…

interpretation

School started this week.  Once again, I am teaching Christian Spirituality, a first year university course.  The first day is always a bit nerve-wracking because I never know how many students will show up, what their level of interest will be, or how they will respond to my style of teaching and the course material I have selected.  The first week has gone really well, I think.  The students are keen and clever and for the most part, eager to engage with the material and learn.  They are even polite, asking for permission to use their laptops in class and talking to me afterwards to make sure they didn't come off as argumentative.  It really is a joy and a privilege to be able to teach theology in a university setting where we can have straightforward and informed dialogue about God.

One of the textbooks I use for the course is Philip  Sheldrake's A Brief History of Spirituality. He is very good at easing a person into the topic by explaining what spirituality is, setting i…

going home

I took a break from writing a blog over Christmas.  To be honest, there was a lot going on but I wasn't sure how to write about it.  Going back to the place I grew up always presents a few challenges for me:  for the most part, I enjoy the vast beauty of the prairies and their crisp climate which conjure up vibrant memories of an uncomplicated and creative childhood, and I appreciate the precious family members and other friendly folks who still live there.  But my place of origin also has some trigger points for me and sometimes they can catch me off-guard.  This is really no different from any context which can transport us back to places where we were not at our best: places we have experienced tragedy, felt fear, been prone to anxiety, responded in anger, or lived through disappointment.  But sometimes childhood triggers can also be occasions when we realise that we are not the same person we used to be.

This was a particularly challenging holiday time in some ways.  Perhaps …