Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wendell Berry and Mennonite online education

From Toledo, IA

This post is simply to cross-reference a few other posts I've written elsewhere in the past week, both relating to my work in Mennonite higher education, particularly in online programs. Each are at my work blog, Ed-tech at EMU:

Here's an excerpt from the end of the second post:
What I find compelling about the potential for online education within the Mennonite tradition and its various institutions of higher education (including both EMU & Tabor College), is the possibility of a radical online education. One that’s “subversive” in the sense that it uses the tools of the digital age but calls out their contingency, questions their inevitability, highlights their pitfalls and ultimate limits. I’m talking about deconstruction. – But deconstruction on the way to developing attitudes and practices which can help re-construct something more life-giving than what our consumer culture can provide: Affection for self and neighbors – friends and enemies, affection for place, and ultimately (in the Christian context) affection for our creating and sustaining God. And when we do this in collaboration with each other - rather than mimicking the logic of consumer capitalism – the radical potential only increases, deepening roots and establishing routes/linkages that contribute to the common good of Mennonite communities and institutions, and those whom we serve (i.e. “the world.”)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Comin' down the mountain...

From Prairie City, IA
Pastor Tim Peter, signing my home congregation's ordination gift to me
It's been just over a week now since I was ordained as a minister in the Church of the Brethren, an event which took place at my home congregation south of Prairie City, Iowa. It was a joyous day that felt much like the best possible family reunion. There were beloved people - family, friends, pastors, all sisters & brothers in Christ - from all points along my life and ministerial journey. Two of my friends that I used to play music with surprised me during worship with a run-through of "Amazing Grace." Everyone gathered around me to lay their hands on me and petition God's guidance, correction, and provision for my ongoing ministry and that of my family. We ate together and celebrated Communion together... And on and on. It was a lovely day that truly felt like the sublime gift that it was.

A particular gift was my former professor/pastor, Sara Wenger Shenk, president of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, preaching the sermon during worship. The sermon text was taken from the lectionary: Matthew 17:1-9, the Transfiguration of Jesus. Sara's title was: "Moments of Clear Shining," and her treatment of the text with respect to the notion of ordination for ministry in the church, and how it impacts me, my family, the faith communities and neighborhoods in which we serve & worship - it all had the ring of Gospel truth. I heartily recommend giving it a listen...

Her main image/theme was the notion of "mountaintop experiences," and how they can become temptations to dwell in the glow, as Peter was keen to do upon seeing Jesus transformed before his eyes into his full glory - but that Jesus models well that we must come down, back into the "valley" of the everyday, the hurly burly of the radical ordinary. God's redemptive mission in the world is to be found there, with only brief and periodic flashes, or "moments of clear shining."