beatrice_otter: Dali's Christ of St. John of the Cross (St. John of the Cross)
... an LCMS pastor is the religious leader coordinating and sending out emails for a local Christian Unity gathering.  [personal profile] quinfirefrorefiddle will know why I snicker each time I see one.

The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (aka LCMS or just "Missouri Synod") is much more conservative than the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  Although they aren't the most conservative Lutheran church in America, they're the largest conservative Lutheran denomination.  And they have an institutional phobia about doing anything with people who don't hold and proclaim the "pure Gospel" like they do.  They couldn't possibly do anything that might imply that they endorse anything that isn't the ABSOLUTELY PURE LUTHERAN DOCTRINE (which they are the only arbiters of), and nobody can possibly be a true Lutheran without agreeing with them on every tiny point of doctrine (and some of them aren't too sure that people who disagree with them can even be called true Christians at all).  Most lay people in their church aren't bad about it, but some of their pastors can and do lead witch-hunts to root out impure doctrine and improper ecumenism.*   So when I see an LCMS pastor working on anything to do with Christian Unity, it's funny.  And I wonder what his superiors and fellow pastors think of him ...

*You may recall that after 9/11, an LCMS district president (their equivalent of a bishop) participated in a huge ecumenical prayer service in New York City.  (It might have been held at Yankee Stadium?  It was a really big deal, anyway, lots of religious leaders from lots of denominations.)  He had permission from the overall president of the LCMS to do it, but the ultra-conservative faction managed to get him brought up on charges anyway, hoping to use him to oust the president (who was, gasp, shock, horror, only a moderate conservative, not an ultra-conservative).  The District President resigned, instead.

For those of you interested in the history of it, internecine Lutheran strife, witch hunts, and propaganda )
tl;dr: the LCMS has been kinda screwed up since the late 1960s.

beatrice_otter: Ginger Rogers--Dancing! (Dancing!)
Well, female Episcopal priests are kicking the rest of our buts when it comes to fashionableness and chic.  Not only have they been on What Not To Wear, there is now an Episcopal Priest Barbie!
beatrice_otter: I don't want to be killed because of a typo.  It would be embarrassing. (Typo)
Okay, you all know about Project Gutenberg, right?  Project Gutenberg works to get books and magazines that are out of copyright online for free in text form.  They've got almost 30,000 books available, with more being added every month, and there are a lot of sites that take books Gutenberg has put up and offer them on their own site.  It's awesome.  And the process of getting books ready is pretty cool, too.  Distributed Proofreaders is a system whereby texts are scanned, OCRed, proofread multiple times, formatted, and made ready for posting.  The whole system is designed so that people who want to volunteer their time can do as much or as little as they want, and still contribute.  Have twenty minutes to spare?  Log on, find a book that interests you, and proofread a single page.  Have more time?  Do more pages.  Alas, there are some steps that simply can't be broken down like that, and content providing--i.e. finding books, scanning, and OCRing them--is one.  (Well.  A lot of the time, you can use Google Books or The Internet Achive or various university libraries to 'harvest' page scans from, and that speeds things up considerably.)

Well.  To make a long story short, I have just finished scanning a book.  It is now ready to be handed off to someone else to OCR.  The book is True Christianity, by Johann Arndt, which was one of the major Lutheran devotional works of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and was the first spark in what became the Pietism movement within Lutheranism.  In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, if a Lutheran household was going to have only two books, chances were one of them was the Bible and the other was True Christianity.  Which makes True Christianity a major work, and one that should be easily available, for scholarly research if no other reason.  And while part of the book is on Google Books, it is nowhere complete, and the Google Books version isn't that readable, as is so often the case.  So I checked an 1863 copy out of the seminary library, borrowed a scanner from a friend, and have spent the last month scanning pages while doing my homework.  And it is now finished!  Yay!  All 542 pages!
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
So, I need a topic for this week's entry on my faith-based blog, "Theology For Ordinary People." Y'all are ordinary people, right? What have you always wanted to know about Christian faith, history, theology, etc., but have never found someone you could ask (or never got an answer that sounded right)?
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
There are only two Black, female seminary presidents in North America. Both are on campus today for Spring Convocation. Also on campus is Terrence Fretheim, one of the most respected Old Testament scholars of the last thirty years. And in just a few minutes, he's going to be visiting our Exodus class (we're using his commentary as our primary textbook). I'm going to have him sign my textbook and my copy of The Suffering of God.

By the way: who's the most selfish person in the Old Testament? Noah. Because when God gets angry and is going to smite people and tells Noah he's going to be the only person to survive, Noah goes right along with it. Everyone else in the Old Testament who's faced with a similar statement by God (Abraham, Moses, etc) tries to talk him out of it--and succeeds. (Now, God does end up destroying Sodom and Gommorah, but Abraham had talked him down so that if God had been able to find five righteous people God would have spared it. That's quite a concession on God's part.)
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Cross--paid in full)
Previously, on [personal profile] beatrice_otter's livejournal: my explanation of the first article of the creed, focusing on the person of God the Father, creator of heaven and earth.  Here we have my explanation of the second article of the Nicene Creed, focusing on the person of Jesus Christ.

 

 

beatrice_otter: Cameron Mitchell, bored with a stack of files (Schoolwork)
... has obviously not been in the LTSG library at ten o'clock on a Monday night.
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
The Faithful Remnant (i.e. those who haven't gone home for Easter) are having a potluck Easter dinner Sunday after church. As I was in the store buying stuff for it, I realized--this is the first time I've ever taken something to a potluck myself, rather than having my parents provide something for the family's contribution. Wow.

(Of course, I still had to consult with Mom about quantities and such. Ah, well.)
beatrice_otter: Cameron Mitchell, bored with a stack of files (Schoolwork)
Well, the first half of this semester was a killer. I knew it was going to be, but ... yow. I am so glad it is Spring Break now.

School blues )

Internship )

Spring Break and Books! )



And if you are curious about what other books I've got, you can always check out my LibraryThing account: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/beatrice_otter
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Bra'tac is awesome)
Schedule for internship announcements has been set: Monday, March 3 at lunch time we will find out where we'll be spending next year.
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (English)
So I'm trying to get my 500 words/day in on the fic I'm mostly working on now, a post-Superman Returns fic with Kara Zor-El (Supergirl), and I've realized that my seminary classwork has seriously affected this. Among other things we're doing in Systematic Theology is studying "theologies of liberation," which include perspectives from just about every oppressed group you can imagine. I was writing Kara's perspective and all of a sudden there was all this stuff about voicelessness and the way language shapes thoughts/identity and cultural imperialism in there that I had no clue about until I started writing ten minutes ago but seriously makes sense from what we know of Krypton. (Not that she can really articulate it, atm.) This is not the first such revelation I've had with this fic. However, I think it will require serious betaing when I'm done with it because I'm too close to it, and can't tell if I'm being too heavy with it or too oblique. Also because I'm a white middle-class American female young enough to have encountered no serious gender discrimination in her life, either practically or theoretically, so I would kind of like someone who has experienced such things check out the whole perspective of the oppressed thing Kara's sort of sprouted (not that she counts herself as oppressed, mind). But that'll be a while. 6,000 words in and they haven't even left the Fortress, yet.
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Micah 6:8)
For those of you non-seminarians out there, "systematic theology" is where you take one central theme/belief/focus and turn it into a logically consistent overarching "system" of theology, where everything works and fits together. (Yeah. It works a lot better in the classroom than it does in real life, which doesn't normally fit into coherent and consistent systems, but it's still a good exercise because it forces you to clarify and examine your ideas about God, about humankind, about creation, etc.) To give you an example, one of the books we're reading for the class is called "The Apostles' Creed" by Pahnenburg, and it's a whole book exploring the meaning of the Apostles' Creed and what it means to us today in light of modern questions, all laid out logically and in order (he spends 15 pages on the first two words, "I believe," and goes on from there).

But the class isn't just about reading other peoples' theologies, it's about helping us develop our own system. So we're supposed to take apart the Nicene Creed and write three one-page papers of how we interpret it, one for each article (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Obviously, one could write much more than a single page, but that would take too long to go over in class and the idea is to get us thinking, not to get us the answers, so one page it is. For those of you curious about my beliefs: here we go.

The Nicene Creed )

Here's my interpretation of the first article. )
beatrice_otter: Jack O'Neill in an alien prison--one of those days. (One of Those Days)
So, it turns out that within two days of the intern matching workshop, half the middler class and a couple of teachers have the flu. I'm thinking it's not a coincidence.

Cut for whining about symptoms )

Matching workshop went well on Thursday and Friday, except for me writing the time down wrong for one of my interviews and missing it. Lot of good sites and supervisors. We'll see what happens with that.
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Micah 6:8)
Highlight: determining which Sunday night in March would be most liturgically and theologically appropriate for the monthly class night at the bar.

Lowlight: finding out that we had lost approximately 10% of our class in the last two weeks for one reason or another.
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Micah 6:8)
Despite the weather, I got back to school after Christmas and J-term all in one piece. No, it wasn't weather that delayed the planes--it was weather that delayed my getting to the airport! It snowed the day I flew back to Gettysburg, and the Willamette Valley isn't very prepared to deal with snow. By 9:00 that morning they were barely starting to de-ice the secondary highways. We thought we left in plenty of time to get to the airport, but we weren't expecting it to take over an hour to drive the first fifteen miles. We got to the airport just in time to wave at my plane as it left. Southwest was easy to deal with, I got to BWI only an hour later than I had planned, and when my baggage got left behind they shipped it up to the seminary for me so I didn't even have to go down and get it. It was a positive experience.

I'm really starting to look forward to internship, much as I love the seminary; next year, I'll be in a parish full time! As of today there are 14 internship sites in Pennsylvania, five in Virginia, two in Maryland, one in Alabama, one in Florida, and one in Washington. More should be trickling in over the next few weeks, some from outside the area. It's kind of fun to go up to the Field Ed office and look at the booklets each church has put together about their site and their supervisor. That's why they trickle in--there's quite a bit of paperwork involved in applying for an intern, and a lot of churches try to do it in the lull between Christmas and Easter. Not that there's much of a break between the two this year; Easter is extremely early this year. (It's a moveable feast--it falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.) This year, it falls on March 23; the earliest it could possibly ever be is March 22. And it hasn't been that early since 1818. What this means for Western churches is that the down time between Christmas and Easter (the two great festivals of the year) is extremely short.

My classes are good so far. I'm in Exodus: Shaping a Community, Intro to Systematic Theology, Current Trends in Adult Christian Education, The Church Year, Stewardship Theory/Mission, and Funeral Proclamation. Exodus should be interesting; if nothing else it will make me practice my Hebrew. I have a lot of friends in that class, and the professor knows her subject well. Systematic Theology is a required course, and it deals with theology in a, well, systematic manner. It's basically how you take a few underlying theological principles and develop them out and apply them to other matters. What it's good for is helping people deal with new questions and situations by helping them build up a coherent theological model/outlook that they can then use to figure out things that maybe aren't obvious. It's a good way to do theology, but not the only way or necessarily even the best way; Luther, for example, wasn't a systematic theologian--he was an occasional one, that is, he wrote treatises about specific problems and ideas, rather than trying to cover everything. The Church Year is about the liturgical rhythms of the church and the theological reasons behind them, and the way Christians look at time in general--plus an interesting bit of liturgical trivia here and there.

Funeral Proclamation should be interesting. We have to preach two funeral sermons, and they can be for anyone real or imagined. (They've had funeral sermons for family members, before; they've also had Darth Vader and the Road Runner.) Only one can have died of old age. We can pick our own texts. I'd like to do my first one on a character, warm up with someone who's not real, and the second on a real person. I know who I'd like to do for the real person, I'm waiting on a few things to start planning. But if you have any suggestions for a fictional character, please let me know. My first thought was either Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) or Doctor Daniel Jackson from SG-1, but then I considered the theological implications of preaching a funeral sermon for someone who resurrected and thought better of it.

After talking with the director, I won't be singing in Schola Cantorum this semester, much as I have enjoyed it in the past. Schola is a community choir that meets here on the seminary campus. You have to audition to get in, and they do great music. I will miss it. Speaking of things I miss, as you all know I enjoy writing just for fun. Unfortunately, it's the kind of thing I don't do regularly unless I set aside time daily to do it, which I haven't done since college. I think I'm going back to that, because I do enjoy it when I do it.
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Micah 6:8)
Schola Cantorum will light up the wintry darkness with a choral setting for vespers in the season of Advent on Sunday, Dec. 2, at 7:30pm in the Chapel of the Abiding Presence at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. The festival choral setting for evening prayer includes a Magnificat by Schutz.

I sing in the Schola Cantorum, and will be having a small solo. Gettysburg is about 1.5 hours north of Baltimore/DC; if you're in the area, we'd love to have you.

Map of 61 Seminary Rdg Gettysburg, PA 17325-1742, US
beatrice_otter: I don't want to be killed because of a typo.  It would be embarrassing. (Typo)
There are a great many books out there on writing (many of which are kinda useless or limited). Rather fewer books focus specifically on revising, yet it is the step that separates a good writer from a great one. Getting the Words Right is a good look at the subject, which I would recommend to any writers out there.

This public service message brought to you through the power of procrastination. I've got 2.5 weeks left to complete two projects, three papers, and a reading journal. And I don't want to do any of it.
beatrice_otter: Elizabeth Bennet reads (Reading)
I just realized that I haven't told you what books I have for classes this semester. So far, we haven't read anything I haven't enjoyed or found useful.

beatrice_otter: Aim high--you may still miss the target, but at least you won't shoot your foot off. (Aim High)
Each and every year the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg invites seminaries from all over the area (and some outside it) to come to Gettysburg for a day of flag football. And it doesn't matter who wins; the goal is fellowship and fun. (As long as we beat Philly.)

Being of a non-athletic temperament, I take my place with pride in the kazoo band. I post this after coming back to my room to put on my long-johns, because Baby, it's cold outside.

Teams this year:
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
LTS Gettysburg
LTS Philadelphia
Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary
Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry
Trinity Lutheran Seminary
Union-PSCE, Richmond
Virginia Theological Seminary

The Gettysburg/Philly game is at 11:20. ETA: We won, 13-7!
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
I've been recommended for Endorsement! That means that I can continue my seminary education and go on Internship next year in preparation for becoming a rostered minister in the ELCA. There wasn't much doubt that I would be recommended for Endorsement (if my candidacy committee or my professors or my CPE supervisor thought there were problems or room for doubt, they would have told me so that I could do something about it). It is still a great relief to get through it. The process is this: your academic advisor and two people from your synod's Candidacy Committee go over your transcripts, your ten-page Endorsement Essay, and your CPE final evaluation. They talk about them for about ten minutes without you, then bring you in and ask you about them and anything else they have questions about. The question-and-answer portion lasts about 45 minutes, and can include anything they think is relevant to being a pastor and/or anything that gets brought up. Then they send you out and discuss things, before bringing you back in and letting you know what they're recommending. Then they give their report to your committee as a whole, and the committee votes on it (the vote is basically a rubber stamp; I've never heard of anybody getting recommended for Endorsement who doesn't actually end up getting Endorsed). It's pretty important; without being Endorsed, basically, you can't progress any farther towards ministry.

This semester as a whole )

I preached last Sunday the 21st; here's my sermon.
Sermon for Sunday, October 21, 2007 )

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