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  • As "Denominational" to "Denomination"...

    so '?????' to 'Union'

    Like all the bestest Baptists in BUGB, I know that we are not a denomination but a union.  But I need a word equivalent to 'denominational' if I am to be able to reflect this overtly in my writing.  Anyone help me out?

  • Voices for the voiceless?

    The Samuel Ferguson Lecture, 'People Matter Too' on Thursday was given by a black theologian and took a well known theme of liberation theologians, namely that of voiceless people groups finding a voice.  Good stuff, well presented (if at breakneck speed in a Bratfoot (Bradford) accent) but not everso new, so far as I could see.

    Earlier I'd been discussing hermenuetics of, and implied readers within, Baptist history writing and parallels with Bibilcal studies.  It was noted that one of the problems with historical-critical approaches to the Bible was that, in extremis, they rendered it essentially voiceless, it became an object, incapable of speaking.  Thus, whilst the insights from such approaches are are useful, and valid, in order that scriputre may speak - be given voice - other approaches are needed too.

    It seems to me that history is seen by most people as 'dead', they don't expect it to 'talk to them' - either about human ideas or Divine involvement in human affairs.  So maybe part of my task is in some way to help Baptist history to find a 'voice,' to help it learn to 'speak' to its real readers as the story of God's people in times past resonates with our own lives and can 'inform our present and shape our future.'

    I am, I think, quite excited about the work I intend to do this year - though whether your average practical theologian would call it practical theology is another matter - no social analysis or 'doctrinal earrings' (great phrase nicked from Sean) in sight!  But then, this will be, eventually, practical theology done well, not badly.    I hadn't really conceived what I'm doing as liberation theology (and I would be loathe to use such a term to describe it) but I suspect that the blurriness of boundaries and the resonances that occur between/within/across strands of theology are part of what makes it 'real.'

    Wouldn't it be exciting if we really did find a way to give 'voice' to these old stories, listen to them and learn from them so that our future might be more hopeful?  And wouldn't it even be a step in the right direction if Baptist ministerial students didn't just see the 'history essays' as a hoop to jump through?  Well, I hope I might take a step along this road this year... time will tell.

  • Terrible Twos?

    07a8a334b6964ab180fb2513349e9ebe.gifSo, DPT year 2 is off and running - or toddling anyway - and it has been a long, intense few days.  Productive, at least in so far as I had a very helpful meeting with my supervisor, setting out an 'agenda' for the year ahead; enjoyable, in that it is good to catch up with people I know whether staff, students or friends from the 'real' world; mildly unsettling because the arrival of a massive first year cohort has radically altered the dynamic.

    Arriving at the centre for the first day, we 'year twos' recalled our own uncertainty at the start of the process and were a little thrown when the new 'year ones' emerged from their first session looking way too confident, assured, and very noisy.  Huddling together for reassurance we found ourselves unsettled and developing toddler-like behaviours.  What had been a 'safe enough space' now felt threatening and we didn't much like it!  Well at least that's the impression I got.  Certainly we were glad to get our dedicated session today without any of the new students, rearranged the scattered tables so we could all sit together in one huddle and felt happier with life.

    I am fascintated by this childish reaction.  I had really looked forward to meeting the new students, not in a superior 'I'm a big girl now' kind of a way but because I'd always enjoyed the experiences whilst I was a student, both of engineering and of theology.  Why now did I feel threatened by these new people?

    As a few of us compared notes, it seemed that the new cohort were far more vocal than we had been, and they were possibly masking their own insecurity with posturing.  Their numbers include some who are evidently more dogmatically of given theogolical persuasions and who make bold pronouncements that our little group probably wouldn't - after all we have been critiqued as being very nice to each other to the expense of theological thinking.

    Over coffee this morning I managed to chat to a small group of the first year students who looked tired and a tad shell-shocked.  Talking to some of us seemed to allow them to ask the questions they were too afraid to ask in the presence of their own, seemingly more confident colleagues.  The claim that we 'make it up as we go along' and 'don't know any theology either' seemed to reassure one or two.

    None of this much helps me to work out quite why I feel like a two-year old rather than the 'adult' I usually am in such circumstances.  I know I wasn't alone in this feeling but it is rather bizarre!  I'm sure these new 'babies' our 'parents' have brought into the 'home' are very lovely and that in time we'll look back and laugh at how we felt this weekend, but for now perhaps we have to scream and shout the confusion we cannot yet articulate!

    (Picture pinched from www.cartoonebooks.com)

  • As good as a rest..?

    Why is it that when you are on leave you wake up wide awake at 5 a.m. and then have to wait almost 3 hours for it to get light?  Ah well.  Nearly a week off this week (OWW preach on Sunday) during which I will finally get the bathroom painted (loud fanfare) and spend three days in Manchester at a DPT residential. In between times I am, hoping to get a bit of time just to 'be,' something I'm not too good at, but which I definitely need.  So it will be a little quieter in this bit of blogland.

  • Discombobulation

    Not a clue how to spell it, but it's a great word, and one some of my folk heard for the first time ever today when I used it in vestry prayers!  Thankfully, my prayer was answered and people seemed not to be too discombobulated by sitting cafe style.  But I was - before, during and after the event - by the hymn I'd selected to end the service.  BPW 308 'God is our strength and refuge.'  It sits there looking inncouous in the hymnbook, and the words, based on Psalm 46 are terrific.  The tune is well known, rousing, powerful and... well, here's the rub.... discombobulating.

    The Dambuster's March - for many it conjures up images of torches played on tent ceilings and hands twisted to make goggles.  For others it speaks of triumphalist nationalism.  For some it speaks of heroism.  For some it speaks of the brutality of war and human inhumanity - dams breached and civilians drowned or made homeless, a nation crippled by ostensibly collateral damage.  I guess we all know the long term impact it had on Barnes Wallis.

    I was uncomfortable (don't want to wear out the lovely titular word) singing these words to this tune at the end of our harvest service when we'd thought about the ongoing struggles in Indonesia.  And yet...

    And yet, I think it was good to be disturbed, uncertain, troubled by what I was doing, because in some small measure it reflected the tensions that the psalm requires us to acknowledge.

    I don't know why Richard Bewes chose to write his hymn to fit this tune.  Maybe he just liked it; maybe he thought it had potential beyond the confines of a war film; maybe, just maybe, he was playing with a bit of irony, reclamation or discombobulation of his own.  If anyone knows, I'd be delighted to learn the 'story behind the hymn.'  In the meantime, I live with the tensions and am glad that God is present within them.