What ought to be the relationship between the church and the academy? Does professional theology matter for congregational life, and vice versa? What do preachers and professors have to say to each other?
Boston is dark in January. Very dark. At 5:30 p.m. light has
completely abandoned the city. Sure, there is a kind of fake fluorescent light,
a pale bluey glow, a TV light. But there is no authentic light, only illusion
of it. And illusions only make the matter worse.
My college motto is vox clamantis in deserto, the voice of one crying out in the wilderness. It suits a college whose fame includes being the setting for the movie Animal House. Cry out in playful poetry. Cry out in inebriated bombast. Cry out amid the lone pines of New Hampshire.
For the first five years of my ministry, I served a small church
bereft of young children. Christmas presented the perfect opportunity to delve
into the mystery of the incarnation; our Christmas Eve services dripped with
candle wax and Christology.
In my new call as an associate pastor at a large suburban
congregation, I'm responsible for the Christmas Eve pageant.
Michael Bransfield, Catholic bishop of West Virginia, seems to be taking his cues from the coal industry when interpreting Pope Francis’s recent encyclical Laudato si’, which calls for an end to the use of fossil fuels. Bransfield says the pope’s call for ending fossil fuel use is qualified: it should happen “only after” greater progress is made in using alternative fuels, and only where economically feasible. In fact, Pope Francis makes no such qualifications. Bransfield is also promoting the idea of “clean coal.” A spokesperson admitted that the Wheeling-Charleston diocese has “energy related investments” (National Catholic Reporter, July 1).