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Easter III

One of the best gifts we can give to people is to ask them “How did God’s presence get you through that tough spot in your life?” This was the advice of sociologist and self-described “immigrant in practical theology” Nancy Ammerman. Nancy gave the opening key note address at the Association for Practical Theology last Friday evening.

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Easter II

A Whirlwind Tour:Boston and the Association for Practical Theology For the last three days I’ve been in Bean Town taking in some thoughts about bridging academy and church. To be sure there is some distance between seminaries and divinity schools…

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Holy Week I

Holy Week. As I removed my shoes tonight and pressed my feet to the cold tiles in the sanctuary I was taken back. . . . In my final year of seminary I preached to my peers and friends at Southern Seminary. It was the first (and I suppose the only) time I preached in my seminary community (outside of preaching class anyway). It was Maundy Thursday in 1993. It was something of a renegade service.

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Lent IX

Spring in Minnesota. I just came in from wrapping up the fifth round of interviews with seminarians who are completing their formal education and moving toward ministry. We held the interview at the Collegeville Institute adjacent to the campus of St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN.

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Lent III

“On practicing Our Faith” On practice. On practicing our faith. On practicing our faith with the Jesus story.
Where exactly are we in the Jesus story, right about now? Let’s try to locate ourselves on our journey through the Jesus story. The lectionary. You recall what that is: the list of scriptures that reaches out across the Christian landscape and leads us week by week and season by season through each church year. Each year we follow the Jesus story in the Gospel readings . . .

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Epiphany IX

Embodied Practice: Three Crashes from the Past Week
I stood looking at my things for the Prayer and Pastoral Care class: papers, books, chime. I was missing my water and one book. My watch said I had about three minutes before it was time to start the class. Just enough time to run up to my office and back down to the classroom. I turned quickly to my left and headed for the door. Half way there: Crash.

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Epiphany III

Storytelling . . .

In 2001, as I was working my way through doctoral courses in Religion, Psychology and Culture at Vanderbilt, I read pastoral theologian, Andy Lester’s book, Hope in Pastoral Care and Counseling. In that book he articulates several important ideas including the notion of “future stories.” The stories we tell ourselves about the future can have as much impact on us in the present as do all the stories we tell about our pasts.

For instance right now I’m carrying around a host of future stories about everything from what time I’ll turn out the lights tonight to what movie I might see this weekend, to where I’ll be teaching and what I will be researching 20 years from now. The power of future stories seems obvious when you try it on. But it is a significant challenge to the psychological traditions which mostly focus on the past as the main or only key to understanding personal identity or behavior in the present.

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