The Hard Work of Prayer

Here is a lovely passage from the sprightly, charming, and ruthlessly honest testimony of English writer Jane Christmas as she considers, in her fifties, whether to become a nun, And Then There Were Nuns (Greystone, 2013). It challenges me each time I read it:

The true work of a contemplative nun is praying. I had never appreciated the power and intensity of prayer until I prayed with nuns.

On the surface, praying seems easy. Knit your eyebrows in concentrations, mutter a few words, and then get on with your day. It’s not like that in a convent. Think of the hardest job you could do—mining comes to my mind—and then imagine doing that in silence and in a dress.

Every day the sisters descended into the Pit of the Soul, picked at the seam of despair, sadness, tragedy, death, sickness, grief, destruction, and poverty, loaded it all onto a cart marked “For God,” and hauled it up from the depths of concern to the surface of mercy, where they cleaned it and polished it. It was heavy, laborious work.

Music at Regent this Summer: Wow

Two courses this summer featuring two of the world’s experts on a Christian understanding of music. I’m not exaggerating (as, of course, I never, ever do): These scholars are as good as they come. So if you want to think more deeply and interestingly about music in particular, as well as the arts in general, get on over here:

At the beginning of our spring school (MAY 26-30), we welcome back the inimitable Jeremy Begbie to help us in  Fostering a Scriptural Imagination for the Arts.

Jeremy knows some stuff about this. He serves as the Thomas A. Langford Professor of Theology at the Duke Divinity School, having earned one or two degrees and honours along the way: BA (University of Edinburgh), BD (University of Aberdeen), PhD (University of Aberdeen), ARCM (Royal College of Music), LRAM (Royal Academy of Music), FRSCM.

JeremyBegbie2At Duke he is the founding Director of Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts, teaches systematic theology, and specializes in the interface between theology and the arts. His particular research interest is the interplay between…yes…music and theology.

Other people like Jeremy, too. He is Senior Member at Wolfson College, Cambridge, and an Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of Music at the University of Cambridge. Previously he has been Associate Principal at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, and Honorary Professor at the University of St Andrews where he directed the research project, Theology Through the Arts, at the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts.

He is the author of a number of books and his next book, Music, Modernity and God, is scheduled for publication by Oxford University Press in early 2014. (Well, don’t be too impressed by the Oxford Press thing: They’ll apparently publish anybody these days. But the other credentials seem sound enough….)

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Ruth Padilla DeBorst at Regent This Summer

Please consider enrolling in one or both of the two courses we’re featuring this summer by Ruth Padilla DeBorst, a leading theological educator and activist in Latin America. Ruth will be leading classes on “The Whole Gospel: Mission Out of a Radical Evangelical Matrix” and “Sacred Activism: Mission for Whole People in a Fractured World.”Ruth

As some of you well know, Regent’s faculty is not overpopulated by women of colour whose first language is Spanish and who inhabit a life pattern of critical change! (Ahem.) So when we have one coming to teach, I’d like us to capitalize on this blessing all we can.

Ruth is a superb speaker, deeply grounded in Scripture and in the context of Latin America, nicely connecting theoria and praxis. It is a rare privilege to have someone like this generously take time away from her pressing commitments in the rest of the world to instruct, exhort, and encourage us. So do consider coming—and remember that you’re most welcome to audit the classes…and pay less to do so!

Thanks also for spreading the word to one or two people you can think of now who might be interested.

(I’m resorting to my weblog to do more of these “infomercials” because, hard as our marketing team works, as I travel I keep coming across many, many people who would love to come to Regent if they only knew about us or if they only knew that So-and-So was speaking about such-and-such.)