I had the pleasure of meeting with Dan Merchant briefly this evening at the ACSD conference. Dan is the writer/director/producer of the documentary, “LORD, save us from your followers.” I also attended the viewing of the film. I was entertained, confronted, and reaffirmed all at the same time. I am definitely going to be purchasing the film and hosting a screening as a part of the film forum of Oakwood Hall. I will also be meeting with Dan hoping that he may visit our community at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
The following trailer is somewhat vague and does not come close to providing a full representation of the movie. Please visit the website to watch more video clips and read more information.
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Today I am writing from Cedarville University where the the Association for Christians in Student Development (ACSD) annual conference is being held. Our initial activities were casual and light in nature. My moleskin entry reads:
“Some Initial Observations”
(1) Prior to the opening meeting there was a reception. Well, there were three receptions: a newcomers reception, a “Christians in Secular Institutions” reception, and the standard opening reception for everyone else. My first response is to question the concept of “secular institutions” as separate for the lack of a self-labelins system that denotes itself as a “Christian institution.” What makes something secular? How can an institution be “Christian?”
(2) The reception consisted of people mingling, sipping on lemonade, and eating shrimp. I first noticed the incredible amount of shrimp. It was piled high and wide on several serving trays covered with ice. I could not begin to guess the amount of money spent on the shrimp only. I did not partake of the food primarily because I do not like shrimp unless it is grilled and seasoned properly. Also, the atmosphere was not one of sharing a meal together but rather consuming for the sake of elitist consuming. My introverted self found a chair off to the side. I sat and observed. It was obvious that much of the conversation was very shallow as people “connected” with others whom they see once a year at the same conference. From my assessment of body language, posture, atmosphere, and the seeming lack of authenticity I would guess that about 6% of the interactions extended beyond small talk.
I am looking forward to the training sessions and interactions in the morning. I will be attending a session categorized as Research and Scholarship, Residential Life, and Student Activities tracks. It is entitled “Student Culture: Promoting Faithful, Academic Subcultures’ and is taught by Don Opitz, Associate Professor and Director of Geneva College’s Master of Arts in Higher Education. The other session that is very attractive is entitled “Biblical Multiculturalism: Defining the Tone and Direction of the Conversation in the Academy.”
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Princeton is perfect. The perfect location. Well… not perfect… but good.
Envision ’08 [EV08] is being held at Princeton University. I’ve done a minimal to fair amount of historical research on Princeton both in a post-protestant-reformation course and independently. The study of religious development in the British colonization period has always fascinated me most particularly due to my interest in the protestant reformation and its movement from the halls in Germany throughout Switzerland and England and then ultimately to the land we now call the United States. I’ve also been astounded at the misunderstanding and appalling stances and language centering around the concept of “separation of church and state.” My undergraduate Senior Colloquium project was entitled “‘Separation of church and state’ cannot exist.”
Formerly The College of New Jersey, Princeton was the fourth college established in British North America preceded by Harvard, William and Mary, and Yale. As stated in the online document, Princeton University in the American Revolution, “The charter was issued to a self-perpetuating board of trustees who were acting in behalf of the evangelical or New Light wing of the Presbyterian Church, but the College had no legal or constitutional identification with that denomination. Its doors were to be open to all students, ‘any different sentiments in religion notwithstanding.’ The announced purpose of the founders was to train men who would become ‘ornaments of the State as well as the Church.’” I may deal in greater detail with the subject of “church and state” soon (as it is quite fitting for the EV08 theme of “the gospel, politics, and the future”).
The University is extremely rich in history yet the conference focuses on envisioning the future. I have to wonder if there was some ingenious creativity from the planning board in selecting the location. Aside from the implications given by Princeton’s existence as a premiere research university from which emerges great scholarship, leadership, and innovation, does the location suggest the necessity for the church to return to its ancient roots? What parts of church history need revisited and recovered? As the church progresses from the past should it/we also progress toward the past?
A couple weeks ago I posted a question about the church. Actually it was a phrase that read “When I hear the word church…” There were (7) options from which to choose:
I want to regurgitate.
I envision social justice.
I view people talking about God.
I crave community.
I picture people in pews.
I reflect on covenant.
I think of my family.
All of the choices may be individually or simultaneously plausible on some level depending on one’s understanding and experience of church. Hoping to receive an “initial reaction” or to at least stimulate more thought I chose to disable the option allowing one to give multiple answers. Now I am much more curious about the thought process. You may offer an explanation of your survey answer or simply respond to the question:
What do you think when you hear the word “church?”
I received an e-mail from Keelan Downton, Assistant Professor of Narrative Biblical Theology at Somerset Christian College about blogging for the upcoming Envision Conference held at Princeton Theological Seminary. Many of my upcoming posts will flow around the conference conversation theme of the gospel, politics, and the future. Your comments concerning the current situation of the church and an envisioned direction are highly valued. Please click and write in the “THOUGHTS” link at the bottom of each Envision post so that we may engage in dialogue together before, during, and after the conference. I also hope to begin some analysis of what Keelan called “a recent barrage of ‘manifestos’” including The Emergent Manifesto of Hope, The Evangelical Manifesto, and The Holiness Manifesto.
I’ll be flying out of Columbus, OH for my first trip to New Jersey where I’ll be crashing at my aunt’s home if I do not stay on campus at Princeton. I’m sure my mind will need some good rest from the interactions with the many speakers, authors, teachers, and missional practitioners including Miroslav Volf, Ron Sider, Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren, Brenda Salter McNeil, Shane Claiborne, Jeremy Del Rio, Doug Pagitt, and Bart Campolo. I’m very excited about the diversity of the speakers and the Learning Tracks that are being offered.
There is also an online dialogue June 2-3 to help create a statement entitled, “Envision the Future: The Next Decade” using a collaboration software called Synanim. The forum may be especially interesting and useful for those who are unable to be present at the conference. Be sure to sign up to engage in the online discussion about the problems and/or issues that need addressed in/by the church. It is free to sign up for the online dialogue enabling you to offer your voice in the conversation.
What questions would you find interesting to be posed at the conference?
I just found the video below online. A friend of mine wrote a curriculum for students transitioning from high school to college. He is now partnering with Josh McDowell for a conference on faith issues during transition. He took some clips in his living room a little over a year ago. Here I am talking about the doubt that I journeyed through while studying theology in college. And, yes, I still doubt. I still have a lot of the same questions that come to mind. Please give your response to the question to the right.
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