The sect-church process appears so unstoppable because humans seem to have rather mixed motives when they make choices about religion. … Humans want their religion to be sufficiently potent, vivid, and compelling so that it can offer them rewards of great magnitude. People seek a religion that is capable of miracles and that imparts order and sanity to the human condition. The religious organizations that maximize these aspects of religion, however, also demand the highest price in terms of what the individual must do to qualify for these rewards. Moreover, because of the long-term exchange relations that religious organizations require, people are forever paying the costs in the here and now while most of the rewards are to be realized elsewhere and later. As a result, humans are prone to backslide, to get behind on their payments. … Thus, other things being equal, people will always be in favor of a modest reduction in their costs. In this fashion, humans begin to bargain with their churches for lower tension and fewer sacrifices. They usually succeed, both because it is those with the most influence — the clergy and the leading laity — who most desire to lower the level of sacrifice and because each reduction seems so small and engenders wide-spread approval. … There comes a point, however, when a religious body has become so worldly that its rewards are few and lacking in plausibility.
Finke and Stark, The Churching of America, 282-283
I am not sure I agree with this. But it makes me think about how I want to lead a church, and that makes it worthwhile reading.
the men in my class when I suggest God isn’t a man
Over against the multiplicity of ideological and social claims such as production and property and culture and power, the valuing of the human being for what he or she *is*, even and especially in deficiency, weakness, impotence, and marginality, returns us to a path that leads to Jesus of Nazareth, born in a stable and killed on a cross.
Walter Altmann, Luther and Liberation, p. 41.
It is important that life under grace, a life of compassion, not be understood as an individualistic life, a mere inner peace, but rather a communitary, collective life that takes concrete form in our societies.
Walter Altmann, Luther and Liberation, pg. 39
SKILL REQUIRED TO NAVIGATE SEMINARY FINALS + ADVENT
Wordcount produced in the last 24 hours:
- 1199 words in a final exam/essay on the ideal Christian life according to Luther’s “Freedom of a Christian,” Ignatius of Loyola’s “Spiritual Exercises,” and Spener’s “Pia Desideria”
- 5464 words in a research paper/project on the tension of welcoming LGBTQ people into new missional ministries
Ciao, fall semester! It’s been real.
Final paper for my class on new church starts
Finally, a church willing to ask questions about welcome and affirmation is a church that confesses that all its work has not been for itself. The purpose of a congregation, whether new or old, is not to survive. The purpose of church is to create a space where people are welcomed into the experience of God in Jesus Christ as a promise and gift. New church starts confess, in their very existence in declining mainline denominations, that God is faithful in bearing communities that create and form faith. When a congregation struggles, their hope must not be found in their own abilities, but in the grace of God who provides for the fulfillment and reconciliation of the world. The courage of a new church start working towards an official statement of welcome for LGBTQ people is a clear incarnation of a missional hope in a providing God.
Done. Bam. Turn it in. On to the next final!
Official Seminary Campus Schedule
Thursday & Friday are final exam days; the semester is officially over on Saturday.
This is the emailed official campus schedule for those days:
THURSDAY, December 13
FRIDAY, December 14
SATURDAY, December 15
Well played, seminary. Well played indeed.
this is how I start papers
SHOWING UP TO A CLERGY DINNER WHERE EVERYONE ELSE GRADUATED FROM THE CONSERVATIVE SEMINARY