Sunday, December 6, 2009

Heidi Miller Yoder: Gotta serve somebody

My first encounter with Heidi here at EMU came in my second semester last year while writing a term paper on the theologies of baptism for John Calvin and a somewhat recently-discovered 16th century Anabaptist figure, Pilgram Marpeck. Heidi's dissertation covers Marpeck, so a classmate and I sat down with her to get some help with sources for our papers. Her sharp intellect and clear articulation of theological concepts quickly struck me.  Later that spring, EMU hosted popular Christian thinker, writer, and speaker, Brian McLaren, and Heidi was coordinating the events for his time on campus, and I was asked to play guitar for a few songs during an evening speaking event.

When I sat down with Heidi for this interview in late October, I knew it was going to be a great conversation, and it was. What particularly stood out in this interview is how she immediately named her family and life in the church as pivotal starting points for her faith and spiritual formation. At the end of the interview, when talking about theology in a conceptual sense, she tied it all together with her early childhood experiences, bringing us full circle in the discussion. This was in the midst of talking about Anabaptist particulars in theology, and what it can offer the broader church (something she works at). Here's a video that offers some of her reflections:

There were other themes not explored in the video that were significant, such as the strong tie of theology to an education and early vocation that wasn't primarily theological (largely social work in various forms), but to which Heidi quite intentionally brought her faith and practical theology to bear. At various points through the interview Heidi named bridge-building as something she's been doing in various ways and to varying degrees much of her life. This is where I really level with her, as I see much of what I'm doing here at EMU, studying in both the CJP and Seminary, working toward those two degrees, as a theological experiment in bridge/peace-building.

Thanks, Heidi!

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