By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. These ensure the smooth running of our services. Learn more.

- Page 3

  • Roses in December

    I have just come in from ferrying one of my wrinklies to the home of two others for a 'shut ins' communion.  When I was training for ministry one of my supervisors said he always liked to take at least one other person with him when he was doing a 'home communion' because it is a better symbol of the church gathering.  I think he is right - and sometimes it gets a few done in one go, which is also helpful from a logistics perspective!

    As they chatted about past events and remembered their children's childhood (before I was born...) one of them observed that 'God gave us memory so there could be roses in December.'  I like that - it has depth and meaning, it is hopeful and honest.  It may be that supermarkets and hothousing make it more figurative than literal, but to me it carries a powerful truth: 'Lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' 

    I have now typed it into 'Google' and find it is far from original, indeed it originates with J M Barrie, may have been part of a song sung by Vera Lynn and is certainly the name of a book about grief.  Yet it was 'a word in season' for two elderly women on a dull February afternoon when communion happened.

  • KP Friars and other Monk-ey Business

    Sorry, bad puns once again.

    medium_kpfriars.jpgIn the early 1980's a jolly band of cartoon friars advertised crisps.  They probably wouldn't be allowed to nowadays, crisp eating is hardly synonymous with healthy lifestyles or the being of a monk-type person.

    Today I was reading about a 'Chalcedonian Corelation' for the interdisciplinary nature of practical theology, which I'll get to in a bit, but its reference to 'logical priors' took me back to my engineer days and the images conjured up by 'Bayesian Priors' (which are mathematical). 

    In my imagination, Bayesian Priors were an order of rather rotund monks in brown habits with jolly faces who laughed a lot - and probably understood some of the mathematical concepts about as well as most Christians understand Chalcedon.

    Logical Priors sound much less jolly - they are tall, thin monks in grey habits with long noses and serious expressions.  They are very kindly folk, but deadly, deadly serious.

    So, to Chalcedonian Correlation (which maybe should be Caledonian Correlation since it comes from Scotland!)

    It asserts that there are four factors...

    • Indissoluble differentiation
    • Inseparable unity
    • Indestructible order
    • Logical prioity of theology

    Indissoluble differentiation (which to a mathemetican doing calculus is a nonsense btw) means that theology is not history/psychology/anthropology etc and vice versa - the disicplines are not each other and definable boundaries exist.

    Inseparable unity means that despite this, the various disciplines can inform each other and, perhaps (though this is now my interpretation) are part of greater whole through which God's revelation occurs.

    Indestructible order means that there is effectively a hierarchy of authority.  Crudely, this suggests that subjects that refer out to others are higher up (I think) the authority tree.  Thus, theology has precedence over sociology because while theology may call up sociology, the converse is not (so they argue) true.  The logical priority of theology is, they assert, given.

    I think this idea - which does get a bit more discussion in the book which I have yet to read, is interesting, but not automatically universally seen as true.  I can see that a psychologist or anthropologist, for example, could make a parallel argument asserting the logical priority of their field, since they may well perceive theology differently.  There is nothing wrong with the basic idea of a logical prior, it is just that beyond mathematics, it is more difficult to decide what it is.

    Maybe there is a Logical Monastery somewhere where all the Logical Priors spend their days earnestly seeking their correct order?  I suspect the KP Friars have far more fun though! Any thoughts?

  • Lectionary Blog

    Thanks to Jo who told me about this site...

    Sarah Laughed subtitled Dylan's Lectionary Blog is well worth a look and should appeal to folk who read Greek (and maybe Hebrew) properly (rather than my ham fisted version).  It has some novel approaches to lectionary texts and is well thought out.  Also potentially helpful for those of us who do not follow the lectionary!

  • Lifting Veils

    I'm just back from a residential in Manchester for my part time doctorate, which I extended to include a free Sunday and a visit to a church where I used to work.  I am very tired, it'd be good if I had tomorrow off too to recover, but it has been a good experience.

    The 'three' days of study were quite intense but overall were productive and enjoyable.  There was a sense that the first residential had been pretty unsatisfactory for everyone - teachers and students - and that this was inportant to get 'right.'  I arrived with some apprehension, and very much feeling inadequate - everyone else seemed so much more articulate and advanced in their thinking.  Also, having been told by various folk recently I am either 'scary' or 'intimidating' because of a perceived intelligence or work output I was very self conscious and watching myself.  Made for an interesting experience!  For the record, I consider myself to be of broadly average intelligence but a hard worker with tendencies towards being a girlie swot and class creep.  Someone has to do/be these things, you should be grateful I am willing so to do!  I was once told by a prospective employer (when I was about 19) that I was " a pleasant girl who will suceeed by application rather than inspiration."  Well, the later two thirds are certainly true.

    Anyway, enough self flagellation/adulation/whatever.

    The input on action research was good, with an interesting and engaging speaker.  The "speed DPT" exercise was fun and the tutors had done a good job in splitting us up from our friends and pairing us up with those who had complimentary styles, skills and interests.  I found myself working with a very different person who was great at sparky ideas but lousy on process and task focus, who immediately related the fictitious task back to his real life research but could not manage a key word search on a library catalogue; we made a good team.  Perhaps because my interest is, ultimately, more about process than content, I entered the task with a different angle from some people, I don't know.  Did I understand what the DPT was about better at the end of the exercise?  No.  Did I feel more confident at tackling it?  Yes.  And the latter is surely the important factor here.  A veil of self doubt had been (at least temporarily) lifted.

    Today's service was centred on the lectionary readings of Moses veiling his face, Jesus being transfigured and Paul's letter to Corinth that suggested that our faces are unveiled glimpses of God's love; that 'true love's true form' is glimpsed in our relationships, attitudes and actions.  The fairy tales of 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Shrek' provided illustrations of how 'true love's true form' subverts expectations [though I remain unconvinced that Shrek is as subversive as others may claim].  It was a great sermon in a good service, and there was a real warmth about the whole experience.   It was good to see that a veil of suspicion and hurt that had once shrouded this fellowship had been lifted and that a genuine affection had emerged.  Some transfiguring had clearly happened in the last four years.

    So, back home and getting ready for a 'normal' week back in Costa del Dibley.  Going away is always useful in lending some perspective, in seeing more clearly what is good about the 'here and now.'  There is plenty of work to do here, plenty of uncertainty and plenty that will continue to trouble and challenge me.  The issues have not gone away and the frustrations remain unaltered.  But maybe the fact that I have been renewed and refreshed, encouraged and enabled, will make a difference.  I hope so.

    So, apart from wondering how many people will be how intimidated by my latest plethora of waffle, I am ready to relax, unwind, watch 'Waking the Dead' and then tomorrow return to my disciplined reading of atonement theories and practical theology, alongside a sermon on sacrifice, preparation for a meeting in Didcot and the Women's World Day of Prayer... no rest for the Hermione Graingers/Lisa Simpsons among us. 

  • Theology & Worship

    I read this today, it refers to Barth, so it must be good!  It is also the best apologetic for practical theology I've ever seen (rather than the apologies for it that are all too frequently encountered).


    Practical theology as worship

    As we have seen, Practical theology and qualitative research combine to offer us a way of exploring the richness and complexity of creation. They move us beyond naive and simplistic assumptions about the world and human beings and allow us to explore the inner and often hidden depths of human experience.  Perceived in this way, we might describe this type of Practical Theology research as worship. It was Karl Barth who that the ultimate aim of all theology is worship (2002). Barth points towards the importance of doing theology with a spirit of praise and wonder; approaching the task as discovering the things of God with a deep sense of awe. As we seen in this book, theology does not relate only to the rational dimensions of human experience.  At a fundamental theology is always oriented towards the worship and praise of God. As we convert qualitative research and graft it into the service of theological action, it enables us to enter into some of the depths and complexities of creation; as we listen critically but openly to the voice it brings to us, we are drawn new understandings of and fresh perspectives on the divine drama. These new understandings should draw us into communion with God and inspire worship and praise at the intricacies and wonders of creation. It should not only us to understand, it should also enable us to love God and relate more closely to God, ourselves and to one another Matt. 22:3 7—40).


    From Practical Theology and Qualitative Research, John Swinton and Harriet Mowat, London, SCM, 2006 Page 259

    The Barth they refer to is Prayer Karl Barth, Louisville, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002