Friday, October 31, 2008

Salt Lake Theological Seminary is closing

I just heard the disappointing news, and thought I’d forward it all onto you. The Salt Lake Theological Seminary is closing, a victim of the current economic recession. Here are a couple of articles from the Salt Lake Tribune concerning its closure: Salt Lake Theological Seminary set to close, Money runs out for S.L. seminary.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mixing the Episcopal Church and the Assemblies of God

A few months ago my wife and I stopped going to Southeast Christian Church. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a good church, we have friends there (and William, who is a part of our cohort, serves as an elder there), we’d been going consistently there for a year or so before we left, and we have a history with that church going back at least to early 2004. But we live out on the edge of society here in Eagle Mountain, a 45-minute drive away; this distance, with our work schedules, and our two-year old, Maya, made things a bit inhibitive, especially for my wife. We couldn’t connect up with people and events to really spend time and build relationships. We had tried a local church once before, a little independent fundamentalist Bible church plant for a couple of years, but that didn’t really work out. Since then another church plant has come into the area, so we thought we’d have a go with it, Coram Deo, officially with the Assemblies of God. This would allow us to work in and build relationships with people in our community.

For my wife it’s a good place to go. The pastor and the people are great, and there are a bunch of kids for Maya to have friends growing up. And it is unique I think in that we have a meal with every service; we all sit down and eat lunch together and enjoy each other’s company (this meal together may change a bit for its new evening service, but we’ll see). Eating together isn’t something rare, and people don’t run out the door just after service is over (as they so often unfortunately did at Southeast Christian).

But for me… I guess I have an itch that needs scratching. All these churches I’ve been going to are conservative, and ahistorical (as in they recognize the church in Acts, and then came some later-day movement, whether it be the Reformation, the Stone-Campbell Restoration, or Azusa Street, everything in between is ya-know… kind of a mystery mixed with apostasy). The focus and heart of the Sunday service, and most else, is the sermon. So anyway, over the past few years, I’ve been reading up stuff on or by the early church and not seeing much of it in our modern church, and reading up on postmodern philosophy and finding that I agree with much of the picture it is painting of the world I live in. It occurred to me that I needed to step out of my mental box, take a look around, and do church differently, to think differently, to stretch, and maybe do a little liturgy. And since I’ve read a handful of Anglican theologians and resonate with what they say, I’ve decided to go to an Episcopal church.

So for the past what… couple of months now, I’ve been going to St. James Episcopal Church. It’s just been me. My wife and daughter have been going to our local Coram Deo. Once the sacrament of coffee closes out at the Episcopal Church on Sunday morning, I drive off to lunch at Coram Deo with the family. And now with their new additional evening service, I will be active and finding ways to serve at both churches; the Episcopal one in the morning, and our local Pentecostal church plant in the evening.

I think it’s interesting this mix of things. I feel like I’m a conservative at the Episcopal Church. The diocese is theologically liberal, and it openly accepts members who are gay, but since it’s not centered on “doctrinal correctness” it has a flexibility that allows room for those who disagree with some of the liberalness. At Coram Deo I feel like I’m a liberal. The church tends toward a more-or-less literal view of the Bible, i.e. creationism, Jonah really was swallowed by a fish, etc., where I lend to a more metaphorical view in many areas of the Bible. In each there are people with problems, issues, and points of view (among whom I am most certainly included), as well as big hearts, in each we are struggling to love each other and love God; one church is no better than the other. Between the tradition of liturgy and ritual in the one, and something much more freeform in the other, the different ways of approaching the Bible, the church’s history, and how to understand this mysterious God we worship, this diversity and contrast, gives me much to think about, wrestle with, and learn.

I think I’d recommend doing something like this for everyone. We need to step outside of our mental maps. To look at things from a different angle, to try new things, or should I say some old things that we have neglected to do. And not just to visit, but to spend some time, and get to know people. Not to just accept any one particular way of seeing, doing, or experiencing, but to test things by really seeking to understand the other.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

National Student Dialogue Conference II

Friday & Saturday
October 24-25th, 2008
Utah Valley University

Student Price: $29 before Oct. 17th, $39 After
Non-Student Price: $39 before Oct. 17th, $49 After

This two-day conference on dialogue will involve key religious leaders and thinkers who will speak from both LDS and evangelical perspectives.

Speakers Include:

Dr. Robert Millet, Brigham Young University
Dr. Jerry Root, Wheaton College
Dr. Spencer Fluhman, Brigham Young University
Dr. Dennis Okholm, Azusa Pacific University
Dr. Brian Birch, Utah Valley University
Dr. John-Mark Reynolds, Biola University
Dr. Robert Wood, Quorum of the Seventy-LDS Church
Dr. Del Tacket, Truth Project-Focus on the Family

A block of rooms has been put on hold at the La Quinta Inn – Orem University Parkway (521 W. University Pkwy, Orem UT 84058). Please call 801-226-0440 or 800-531-5900, to make your reservations by October 3, 2008. Let them know you are reserving a room blocked off for Standing Together and the National Student Dialogue Conference. The rate per room is $79 per night.

The maximum capacity for this event is 300 seats. Register now to ensure your spot!

*There is a special scholarship for the first 100 Latter-day Saint students to have their registration fee waived. When filling out the online registration form, please select the option "LDS Student Scholarship".

The National Student Dialogue Conference II is sponsored by Standing Together & the Religious Studies Department of Utah Valley University.

More info at Standing Together.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

National Student Dialogue Conference II

Also, I wanted to mention that this week is the National Student Dialogue Conference II. I know I should have mentioned it here earlier, but I confess, I can sometimes be a little lazy. BTW, I myself won't be able to make it, but if anyone reading this is going let us know in the comments below and let us know how it goes.

Some basic information:

Friday & Saturday, October 24-25th, 2008, Utah Valley University

Student Price: $39, Non-Student Price: $49

This two-day conference on dialogue will involve key religious leaders and thinkers who will speak from both LDS and evangelical perspectives.

Go to their website for more information, to register, and pay online.

Meeting, October 22nd

The usual time: 7pm, October 22nd
The usual location: High Point Coffee, at 1735 West 7800 South, in West Jordan

We decided not to read the book we had originally planned to read since everyone was so busy this month with other projects. Instead come share and discuss some of your favorite blog posts, and/or articles, you've read this past month.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bishop to address immigration and faith

From the Deseret News:

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church welcomes the Most Rev. John Wester, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, as guest speaker on Sunday, Oct. 12, 6 p.m. Bishop Wester will speak on "Immigration from a Faith Perspective" within the setting for evening prayer. A dessert reception follows. The public is invited. Call 582-2321 for more details.

The address for Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church is 1070 S Foothill Dr, Salt Lake City, UT 84108

I plan to go. Anyone want to join me?

Update made 10/13/2008:

The reporters were there. On Fox 13's broadcast clip you can see the back of my head, and the Deseret News had an article.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A few things

Our next get together will be Wednesday, October 22nd, again at High Point Coffee, at 1735 West 7800 South, in West Jordan. I’ll send out another reminder notice a little closer to the meeting date. We decided not to read the book we had planned to read since everyone is so busy this month with other projects. Instead we plan to share and discuss some of our favorite blog posts, or articles, we’ve read this past month.

And thinking about articles, here are a couple of articles worth reading by Scot McKnight, in Christianity Today: McLaren Emerging, and The Ironic Faith of Emergents. Also, in the Salt Lake Tribune today there was a brief article on my favorite local Christian bookstore: The Open Book Store.

For anyone out there who might want to read and discuss a book this month, I’ve just picked up Phyllis Tickle’s new book, The Great Emergence, so if anyone would like to join me just let me know and we can set something up.

Lastly, Bill Maher’s new film Religulous is now out in theaters, and is showing down at the Broadway Centre Cinemas. I hope to catch it sometime this week, so if anyone would like to join me let me know.