Why I Should Study Slower

In preparing for a lecture I am to give later this week at the University of Calgary on “Putting God in His Place: Does Theology Belong at the University?” I have reviewed a lot of writings I have found provocative on the nature of theology, the university, and the humanities. Here is a passage that slowed me down to re-read and re-think, from an internationally renowned Christian diplomat whose own academic training was in philosophy (he studied with, among others, Whitehead and Heidegger):

Stillness…belongs to the essence of the humanities…. The deadline must be met, the manuscript must be completed, the dissertation must be revised, the meeting must be attended, the appointment must be kept, the news must be followed, the developments must be watched, the latest literature must be mastered, their anxieties about their position and their future must be allayed–and therefore they can give you only five minutes! And even in these five minutes their mind is not on you. There is no stillness, no quiet, no rest, no living in the presence of eternity, no overcoming of time and its pressures, no unfreezing patience, no resting in being just yourself….

But the humanities mean peace, grace, patience, communion with others, the joys of fellowship and sharing, the art of relaxed, creative conversation, abiding friendship, love—love of the subject matter and love of your friends—the suspension of time, forgetting even yourself, that incredible inner freedom which creates on the spot.

Charles Habib Malik, A Christian Critique of the University (IVP, 1982), 80-81.

Walt Whitman on Ecclesiastes…and Philippians 3

Hast never come to thee an hour,
A sudden gleam divine, precipitating, bursting all these bubbles, fashions, wealth?
These eager business aims—books, politics, art, amours,
To utter nothingness?

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, #272.


[Entire book of Ecclesiastes]


But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.

Philippians 3:7-8

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Christ and Cascadia: Some Gleanings

I thoroughly enjoyed the two-day symposium sponsored by the unfortunately named Fuller Institute of Theology and Northwest Culture this past weekend in Seattle. (I say “unfortunately named” because, of course, the region in question, Cascadia, is in Canada‘s southwest, not “northwest.”)

I have rarely experienced such a stimulating meeting of scholars, pastors, activists, and other leaders seeking with obvious earnestness to help each other and learn from each other how to understand and serve this region we clearly all love so much. Patricia O’Connell Killen, doyen of historians of the religion of this region, was there, as was James Wellman, whose studies of liberal and evangelical churches in this region illuminate both. Christian schools across the board were well represented, from Catholic Gonzaga to conservative evangelical Multnomah, and from mainstream evangelical Trinity Western University to several secular universities, including “YouDub” itself. Activists of various sorts also featured prominently, from A Rocha to advocates of enlightened urban living to defenders of aboriginal rights to voices on behalf of Asian immigrants to ministers among the downtown poor.

I disagreed with some of what I heard (as is my wont) but I agreed with far more. So here are some of the choice bits from my notebook:

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