Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Foundational Church

When my brother had children in the 50’s he and his wife decided that they would not take their children to church, but let them decide about faith when they were grown. My sister-in-law had been raised in the strict Southern Baptist tradition. And Bob had moved so many times during his childhood that he did not have occasion to really belong to a single denomination or church family. When their children came of age, faith was not an experience that they could absorb. My eldest niece found the strictures of the Roman Catholic Church of her husband absurd and ridiculous. The scientific training of her college work was all she needed. My nephew has accepted the traditions of his wife and goes to church regularly but I do not believe he “gets it”. He doesn’t know the stories, the sense of belonging that comes from being a part of God’s family. And my younger niece has absorbed the Christianity of Texas society without having attended church. It is filled with oughts and have-tos with more law than gospel. My family cannot embrace the faith because they don’t have the foundations. And if they do come to have a personal relationship with God, they are not going to know how to embrace the wholeness of faith because the bedrock of the faith isn’t there. Christianity is not a faith to be lived alone. We come together because faith is not to be lived privately.

Now, I did not grow up with a faith community either. But when I came to faith, I spent an inordinate amount of time learning my faith, learning the foundations so that I could enter into the relationship with God and others. I have said it before and I will always say it: Jesus came to teach us how to love God and how to love one another in community—that he came to save sinners is just a wonderful abundance of grace. It is in the community of faith that we most clearly learn the foundations of faith.

The Gospel reading we have today—the “3 Little Piggies Gospel”, I call it—the story of the home builders who built on sand and on rock, is one I often use at weddings. When a couple builds their relationship upon the rock of Christ’s love, then when tough times come, their relationship with each other can withstand the assaults of life together. Jesus tells this parable about building the right foundations for our faith.

It is for this reason that the reformers that wrote the Book of Deuteronomy in about 600BC; they called for a teaching of the law of God to the children. They were to teach the laws to their families; it was to be a foundational part of their growing up and essential to be members of the Israelite community.

Foundations are important to faith. The fundamentalists denominations believe that faith is best articulated by the Bible and so they hold onto Biblical teaching as if it was an end, in and of itself. The Bible is a tool of our faith—not an object of our faith. Church is a tool of the faith, not an end, in and of itself. It is the people who hold the essence of faith—the community of those who are being about the transforming love of Christ.

In her book, Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith, Diane Butler Bass writes of the foundations of the Church. She has studied mainline Protestant churches all over the country and compared them to the mega churches of the Evangelical right. She has found that the mainline churches that are growing are ones who have addressed the foundations of faith. She is not talking about Bible study or education in denominational history or tradition. She is talking about the kind of fundamentals that have to do with our relationship with God.

Bass says that those churches which practice intentional hospitality, discernment, healing, contemplation, testimony, diversity, justice, worship, reflection and beauty grow. They do not grow like the mega-fundamentalist churches in individual saved souls; they grow in being Christian communities that make an impact of loving on their surroundings.

Foundational Christianity is a faith that is mindful of its responsibility to others. It is not about individual salvation—it is about what happens when Christ transforms us through the love that God pours down upon us in salvation. It is not a passive faith. It is about being a way—a plan by which one exercises their faith with gratitude and awe.

Fundamentalist faith is about the first step of faith —surrendering to Christ, but all too often stops there. It is about individual salvation rather than the transformative faith that is found in Christ’s life. Christianity is about changing lives, and about changing society.

During my lifetime, I have seen this nation move from being a Christian nation to a post-modern era. Now we can shake our heads and say, “Ain’t it awful.” Or we can be about living in our present age and be about its transformation. Since the era of the 3rd century western civilization has been marked by Christian dominance. Perhaps in our own age, we are returning to that time before Christianity was identified with government. Perhaps now we can be about what I believe Christ meant for the Followers of the Way to be —transformers of society.

If our churches are about radical hospitality, discernment of actions, healing and forgiveness, contemplation, testimony and witness, diversity and acceptance, justice, worship, reflection and beauty, the people who attend them will be about changing the society they live in. I am not talking about parish programs to feed the poor here. I am talking about the changed hearts of those who attend here being about the kind of change that comes when we live our Christianity to the fullest—when we are able to make decisions based upon our faith rather than on what is convenient or expedient.

We have too many people attending St. Luke’s to ignore that we can change the world. Granted in our lifetimes, it may be only felt here in the Southern Tier, but it can be about changing the world. We are about changing the world of our communities now—but to what end? Are we changing our communities so that they will be more hospitable, discerning? diverse? Accepting? Just? Etc.

One of the things that Foundational Churches are doing is being more aware of their ministry. They are being intentional in living out their faith. They are trying to be clear about what they have found in being loved by God. They are sharing what they have found in loving one another—how to get along with others. They have found a sense of shalom —a type of balance in their lives through the faith and community that is church.

I must admit it was that balance –that shalom that attracted me to St. Luke’s. It is here. And it is that equilibrium that invites others to be part of you. It is not for nothing that the ancient Hebrews put so much stock in shalom. This is not just peace; it is a sense of active well-being that does not become stagnant. It is kind of sense of things being right and holy. Our church needs to be a place of shalom. It is this that the coming generations are going to need as we have over populated the world. St. Luke’s needs to be a place of grace where respect and shalom is the calling card of our life together.

We are to teach these foundational issues to our children. They need to know that it is within our common faith we find a place to raise children that come to know that shalom, that genuine sense of balance in Christ Jesus. Others will come searching for that quality of faith—that quality that is transforming our lives together. Christianity is not a treasure that is to be kept. It is a quality to be shared so that we can live in shalom—in peace, in grace, in balance and with support. AMEN

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

I used to love Memorial Day. It was the signal for the end of school where I was growing up—Texas summers didn’t support classroom attentiveness after May. Often we would travel to my grandmother’s home in small town Missouri. There was always a parade: the kids would decorate their bikes, the American Legion would find parts of their old uniform, WWII vets would march down Main Street and the country club swimming hole was open for the first time.

But since the Vietnam era, Memorial Day has been a harder day to celebrate. I knew many who were killed in Vietnam. I know even more whose lives were shattered by that time. I did not support that war. And I believe that over the years we have seen that that war was ill-advised and not well managed. This does not mean that I did not or do not support those who entered military service or served in that war.

I do not support the politics of nations that make little or no effort to negotiate with each other. I have a hard time supporting the war in Iraq. I believe that we entered that war for vengeance—never a good reason to fight. But that does not mean that I do not support those who sign up and go to fight.

Each week we pray for those who have enlisted to serve our nation either in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or serving in other areas of the world. I am proud of their commitment to the social fabric of our nation. I just pray that their reason for putting themselves in harms way will be alleviated. I want to find a way to keep from our young people from having to sacrifice themselves so I can be comfortable.

I pray that God will teach us more about what it means to live peacefully on this planet. And I promise to try to practice more what it means to live peacefully with my fellow human beings for the sake of their lives.

Same-sex unions

"Why does anyone think that marriage equality will destroy traditional marriage? Marriage has survived Liz Taylor, Mickey Rooney and Britney Spears. I think it will survive the two guys down the street who have been together for 20 years."

Posted by Susan Russell at Inch at a Time this quote caught my attention. I have found myself more than a bit bilious at the comments that gay marriage would destroy marriage from the ultra-right. I have never understood how gay marriage or blessings of gay folks would undermine hererosexual marriage. Are the underpinnings of marriage so fragile that they cannot support the love of others?

I have never married; never wanted to be. But I live in a relationship with another woman that has lasted 30 years. There are no vows, no outward and visible commitment. There is no furtive sexual relationship that many who are married considers the glue that holds the relationship together. The relationship is centered on friendship that goes beyond casual aquaintence and support that honors the other as unique and yet attached at a soul level that goes beyond words. Like many who have lived together for long periods, we do not need to spend long spates of time discussing things. We don’t really need to talk about much anymore. We just enjoy being in each other’s presence.

Both J and I come from families in which our parents lived long years without divorce. Perhaps that is what has enabled our staying together. But there is the other issue of “who else would have had us?” that tends to make us giggle. Relationships are not rooted in vows, or even commitment. They are rooted in the respect that we have for one another. And that does not take a ceremony, a licence, or a sacrament.

Our lives have not been easy. We have had illness, times of ennui, attraction to others, habits that annoy, bishops who have tried to destroy us, right-wingers who have tried to scandalize who we are for their own agendas, jobs that have taken us away from the other that have threatened our commonality. But it has never been enough to destroy the love we have for the other.

That love did not come all at once, either. It is a love, an agape and philios, that has evolved in the small daily caring that has gone on between us. There is little feeling that we are “beholden” to the other—that would destroy what we have. We have just a constant reminder that somehow we are right for each other and we are better persons because of the other.

We do remind the other of our love. I don’t think that there are many days I haven’t told her that I love her and there are not many days that she hasn’t said the same. Even on those days when it is hard because of some argument or disagreement, we end up reminding ourselves of our love for each other. It doesn’t require sleeping together to do that. It just requires the humility to say “I love you.”

The California decision to allow gay marriage will impact the whole of the nation if not the world. It will impact the Church in how it is going to solemnize relationships that do not fit well into tradition. Perhaps we need to look around and find those relationships that require no vows, no sacraments to remind humanity that we are not meant to be alone. It would be nice if people could find ways of encountering the love of God present in the relationships that people have whether hererosexual or homosexual, or not sexual at all. May we lift up Christ in those relationships and focus our concern on that rather than on what is traditional and what is not. Human community is more important than sex.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Five- vacation thoughts....

Sally at revgals has come up with a great Friday five.
It is a holiday weekend here in the UK, and the weather forecast for much of the country is not good!!! But we can still dream and so with that in mind I bring you this Friday Five.

1. Getting ready for summer, do you use the gradual tanning moisturisers ( yes gentlemen you too can answer this!!!), or are you happy to show your winter skin to the world?

Naw, I have that wonderful Celtic skin that with sunless tanners turns orange! And I have never tanned, even when I was a kid. One thing about living in northern climes is that I don’t have to worry as much about burning as I did when I lived in TX. I don’t go to the beach and I don’t swim too often. But when it gets warm enough for shorts up here, no body is going to complain about my white legs.

2.Beach, mountains or chilling by the pool, what/ where is your favourite getaway?

I like a cabin in the woods by water where I can fish, read, tie flies, listen to good music and write. But I do like to travel. It does tend to wear me out, but I enjoy going new places or visiting friends in a new locations.

3.Are you a summer lover or does the long break become wearing?

I am in training for retirement. Long breaks never bother me!

4.Active holidays; hiking swimming sailing, or lazy days?

I like both. Sometimes I like to travel and others I like to just sit and read.

5.Now to the important subject of food, if you are abroad do you try the local cuisine, or do you prefer to play it safe?

I live to eat so vacations always include some good restaurants with local cuisine. What’s the point of going new places if you don’t enter the culture?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Green Season

There is something about the time after Trinity Sunday that seems to allow all things to settle down. The themes in the readings are unique to the Sunday and do not culminate in a specific day as do the readings of Advent or Lent. In some traditions this is called “Ordinary time”. Some count these Sundays as the time following Trinity; the Lutheran tradition is to call this “Time after Pentecost”. Whatever we may call it; the readings generally have to do with the ministry of Jesus.

In the three-year cycle of readings means that during the Time after Pentecost this year we hear of the events as reported by Matthew. Next year we will hear from Mark and in year “C” (2010) we will hear from the words of Luke. We hear from the Gospel of John during the special seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.

The green vestments and hangings that adorn the church during this time after Pentecost might be thought to mean that we are observing some ecologically correct agenda. But green in the art history of the Church has always meant Resurrection. And Resurrection has always been the Church’ agenda.

Personally, I like the appellation “Ordinary Time” because it so characterizes what is going on in our congregations. We are not looking forward to Christmas or Easter. We are enjoying the fruits of Christ’s labor—and learning how better to live the life to which we are called. And even though we should be spiritually in awe of what this very ordinary time after Trinity is, it is the “getting on with it” time.

This ordinary time fits with our Northern hemispheric lives as well. It is celebrated from the spring, through summer and fall until we get to winter. It is ‘Christian living for the mean time.’ Yep, I like the green season.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Trinity Sunday

The readings today are a confusing mix. Ever since Lent we have been hearing lessons that are based on a season or an event in Jesus' life that is appropriate to the Church calendar. Today is only different in that we are celebrating, not an event in Jesus' life, but a theological doctrine. And I believe that this is the only Sunday in the Church calendar that we celebrate a doctrine rather than an event in the life of Jesus or the Church.

Jesus did not speak of the Holy Trinity. It is never referred to in the New Testament. He did speak of the Spirit of God and God who was Father. He referred to himself as "the son of God" in the sense that those who are faithful are Children of God. The doctrine of the Trinity was basically worked out by Tertullian, early in the 3rd century. The doctrine states" that God is one Being who exists, simultaneously and eternally, as a mutual indwelling of three persons: the Father, the Son (incarnate as Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit."

Most doctrines are developed in opposition to some heresy--some clearly wrong understanding of God's action in the world. The doctrine of the Trinity developed in response to the heresy of Arianism which teaches "that Jesus was not one with the father, and that he was not fully, although almost, divine in nature." This was pretty well resolved in the 4th or 5th century and the Doctrine of the Trinity has been a conviction of most Christian churches ever since-Orthodox, Roman Catholic, most Protestant denominations embrace the Holy Trinity.

So what does it mean for us today?

It certainly does allow us to understand ourselves as those who worship one God who is manifested in three persons. We recognize God as Father or Creator, as Incarnate in Jesus the Christ and in the Spirit that is always present to us. But all too often we think of God as three separate entities. Part of that is because we are unwilling to allow the mystery of the Trinity to hold us in our perplexity. Human beings don’t do well with mystery—especially those of us who have lived since the scientific age began. We want answers; we want proofs even for God who cannot be explained or proven.

But the wisdom of God leaves us confused and without ways of describing that presence of the Divine which can only be known in the depths of our hearts and leaves us wordless. It is Love lived out that best describes what the Holy Trinity is. God is lived out in love—a love that moves beyond the corporal or emotional love that we embrace with our loved ones. The God who lives in three—who exists in community—never alone---teaches us what it means to be created in the image of God. We, as Christians, are never meant to be alone—to be individuals facing life solitarily. We are called by God‘s-self—a God that is one in Three—to live together, to embrace life in community.

For most of my life, I have been encouraged to “stand on my own two feet”, to be self-sufficient. These mantras have been with most of us who have lived the majority of our lives in the 20th century. ‘Rugged individualism’ has been the chant of educators, theologians, psychologists and economists (not the least from our parents and relatives) for at least 150 years. It is a sociological thought that perhaps needs to come to an end. At the dawn of a new millennium it is time for us to reconsider our lives in the light of a Triune God.

We are not alone on this planet. We are not alone in matters of faith. And if we are to recognize that we are created in the image of God, we need to see ourselves less as individuals and more members of the great community of God’s creation. If we are going to populate and have dominion in creation as the reading from Genesis tells us, we are going to have to live less as individuals and with more respect not only for one another, but with respect for all living creatures. We are going to have to get better at loving.

Until I began to develop this sermon, I was one of those who was ready to jettison the idea of a Sunday devoted solely to doctrine of Trinity. Like many of us in the theological business, I am ready for some different ways of describing humanity’s relationship with God. There are certainly more names for God than Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As a woman who has gone through an era where Christianity has taken some long hard looks at the ways that women have been treated simply because we thought God was a boy’s name, I have seen the emergence of many varied ways of trying to describe God. As one who has moved from a type of faith that was centered in learning to a faith that is centered in being in relationship with God, I am finding the traditional descriptions more and more filled with meaning. Rather than limiting what and who God is, the Trinity seems to trace images that grow greater as I come to embrace God more.

Faith in the Trinity is a willingness to be transformed by God. And the more that I allow myself to be changed by that God, the more I am able to love in those areas that are the most difficult. Certainly this is the call of a Triune God. Just as a Triune God is always loving, so a Triune God is dynamic—always changing.

For those of you who love to say that you don’t like change, I would suggest that you observe that. I would suggest that if you allow yourself to be curmudgeons in the face of change, you will miss so much that our Lord holds out . If humanity is created in the image of a Triune God—we, as a part of the creation, are called to change. To gripe about change is to gripe about what is essential to human existence. Now I have to confess, I am not liking some of the changes I have to face—I don’t like it that my knees don’t work as well as they once did. But I must learn that God creates my unsure knees just as surely as God creates those wobbly legs of Christina as she learns how to walk. For a congregation who has just started using a new hymnal, we need to be willing to embrace not only the new, but embrace it as a gift from God instead of some botheration that somebody in the Synod thought up.

Resistance to change is what Aristotle called hamartia in Greek. It was what we learned when we studied the Greek plays—the tragic flaw. It is interesting that in the New Testament hamartia is translated SIN. To resist the dynamism of a Triune God is sin.

This is one of those cases in which we are often brought to a new level of transformation—to a new level of understanding of our relationship with God. God is always calling us to something new, something difficult, something always loving. To say NO to that ever- newness of God is rejecting that work that God is doing within us. We cannot continue to be in relationship with God if we are not willing to be a part of the transformation. At the same time, we know that we too are sinners—we often resist the call of God to be more than we were yesterday. And yet, God constantly loves us even in our rebellion.

It is my consideration that the world needs to hear the message of a God who is one-yet-three. It needs to know that the community of God triumphs over the isolation and individuation of society. And we as human creatures need to know that not only that we not alone, but it is not good for us to be alone or individualistic. We need a God who can image for us how to live with one another not only in peace but in a type of activity that creates wholeness and creativity.

This feast of the Holy Trinity reminds us that we may conserve only that which can continue be creative and lead to newness for the sake of Creation. It reminds us that even in sorrow or suffering, that community is the path to living in the way of Jesus. If we suffer in silence we will fail to know the healing touch of the Spirit through the love of others. For community, in the image of a Triune God, is one that sustains both joy and suffering without falling apart. And perhaps it will be the celebration of this Feast that in years to come, we as Church--as followers of the Way of Christ, will be able to stem the tide of “rugged individualism” so that we may become the images of God we were created to be. AMEN

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Grand Tour: Revgals Friday Five

Songbird at Revgals has posted a really neat Friday Five.
She says:
One of our original ring members, jo(e), wrote yesterday about a trip she and her sisters are taking overseas with their parents, to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Many other RevGals are headed for the Festival of Homiletics. In honor of these upcoming trips, herewith your Grand Tour Friday Five.

Name five places that fall into the following categories:
1) Favorite Destination -- someplace you've visited once or often and would gladly go again.

I would go to England again in a flash. And with Lambeth coming up soon, I would love to be a fly on the wall, or one of the hoards that is supporting +Gene Robinson in his exclusion from that purple madness. I have newly found cousins on that side of the pond and would like to visit Wales, the home of my forebearers.

There are things I would like to do again in London—spend more time at the British Museum. And of course a pilgrimage to visit the Madpriest in Newcastle upon Tyne! A pint with another member of the mad clergy could only help.

2) Unfavorite Destination -- someplace you wish you had never been (and why)

I cannot imagine a place where I would not want to go except perhaps Las Vegas. Everywhere I have gone in my life has always had the potential to be something new and wonderful. Now, there are places where I cannot go, such as Machu Pichu where I have always wanted to go, but I am susceptible to altitude sickness. And I could not return to the heat of Tela, Honduras where I found the people wonderful, but the climate too warm to breathe.

3) Fantasy Destination -- someplace to visit if cost and/or time did not matter

I want to go to the Holy Land. I have never seen the land in which my Lord lived and in which my faith began. This is less of a fantasy than a longing. I do hope I will be able to visit there before I die.

I have always longed to visit Japan, especially the national shrine at Ise, but the exchange rate makes it prohibitive. Parts of Africa intrigue me as does Russia and Mongolia but I would like to go on archeological expeditions.

I would also love to go fly fishing in New Zealand or visit the Netherlands during tulip season

. 4) Fictional Destination -- someplace from a book or movie or other art or media form you would love to visit, although it exists only in imagination.
I am not really good with fantasy so fictional destinations are sort of “over my head.” But I would like to go to some different places in another time—Wurtenburg during the early 1500’s perhaps, or a visit with the Hopi before Columbus, or the courts of Spain during the Moorish occupation, or Greece at the time of Socrates.

5) Funny Destination -- the funniest place name you've ever visited or want to visit

I have been to Cut and Shoot, TX, Horseheads, NY, Piscataway, NJ and see no need of returning.


I love listening to Renaissance music. It is about the only kind of music that I can listen to and do other things. Much of this music is in Latin and periodically I hear a mass part, a Sanctus, or Kyrie ,and immediately know the words and the use of the music. It adds to my prayer during the day.
Some of it is lively dance music that was clearly not for religious setting but it also adds delight to my work.

The harmonies are not the usual ones that we are used to—there is no Bach, Mozart or Beethovenish sound to this work. It is much more primitive in its harmony and even when the choral works are full of long polyphonic lines, the counterpoint has a lushness to it that even Brahms could not accomplish.

I sometimes wonder what it was like to be a priest or pastor when this music was new. What was in the hearts of the people who heard this music for the first time? What was in the hearts of those who wrote this music? I wonder if it was considered irreligious, or did it make the folks uneasy? Would have the sounds of trumpets in the belfry called for a parish council meeting or a call for more “traditional” music? It during this era that Luther nailed his 95 discussion questions on the door of Wurtenburg kirche. I don’t think I would have like being a pastor at that time—it was too much like our own era—schism whispered in every pub. But it was a time of great faith if the music is any indication and if the volume of religious music can be taken as a barometer.

What I have been taught about the Renaissance is that it was a time of great art, a result of escalating economic wealth. People had the time and the resources to enjoy great beauty and engage in theological inquiry. But it was also a time of wars and greed. Perhaps that is what gave rise to the theological discussion. This was theological discussion that went outside of the monastery—into the lives of common folk. But at the same time it was a time when many were so disgusted with the Church that they made outrageous mockery of the Church. It sounds much like today.

No, I do not worry that the Church is going to hell in a hand basket. I just look at the theological discussion that is going on in the blog world. The Church will be changed by my era. It will not look like it does today in 100 years from . Deo gratias! I do wish that modern religious music had the kind of depth to it as did the Renaissance, but hey, who knows who will be listening to it some 500 years from now and wondering what our era is like?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Books, Theology and Thinking

There is always a problem when I go to clergy conferences or seminary reunions. There is generally a book store in the vicinity with all the professional books that are recent in my field. The person who said “So many books and so little time” catches my sentiment. I love to buy books. Reading them is another matter. I am constantly reading but I do not read quickly. I have one in the car that I take in with me when I am dining alone. I have one by the bed that I read myself to sleep with. And there is usually one or two in the office that I read bits and pieces of to fill sermons or articles.

We went to our seminary reunions this past week. Cambridge, MA is a “gown town” par excellence. And where there are students and professors, there are book stores. In Harvard Square bibliophile haunts used to be legendary. Now with, it is harder to find those book stores that allow one to dig in bins of remaindered tomes to find a good buy or the out of print volume.

J borrows novels from the library. But I read so slowly that I can never read a good sized book in the time allotted. I end up paying too many fines that I might as well buy them. Our house tilts to one side from all the books that we have collected over the years. Neither of us can give books away. And so we have shipped tons of books from one end of the country to another at horrendous cost. It is time to do some culling.

This trip to “Booklandia” helped me to find some new volumes of favored authors and some new authors. The speaker at this year’s alumnae lectures was a theologian that I had not met before. She is the first woman and the first American on the august Divinity faculty of Oxford. She had much to say and though I am not ready to embrace her theology at present—I need more time to read through her books—it was interesting to not only hear her speak but also wonder at her mind. I love being in the presence of people, especially women, whose minds are constantly working, constantly trying to make sense of their universe.

I doubt if there are too many of my friends, or even colleagues, for that matter, who read theology. Some of it I enjoy. I love to read what others have said about who God is and how they understand how God works in our lives. The writing of theology has changed much since I was in seminary. I don’t find the stilted tomes that I once did. I find theologians trying to tell stories and then highlight the Scripture with those stories rather than making all kinds of logical premises for the existence of God. I think it makes more sense. Theology in the long run is a thankless task. There is no way to describe God and how God functions in the world. We, humans, do not have the capacity to describe it. But it does not stop folks from trying to describe the ineffable.

Fredrica Thompsette, a professor at my seminary, wrote a book We Are All Theologians. And at some level all of those who claim Christ are theologians. We all develop someway to explain how God affects our lives if to no other person than ourselves. The real clue is whether we are attentive to what kind of theologian we are. I generally do not take one person’s theology as my own. I am more inclined to pick and choose the thoughts of varied authors. It makes for a patch-work quilt kind of theology, but it works for me.