Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ad Hoc, Ad Loc and Quid Pro Quo...

Ad hoc, ad loc and quid pro little time, so much to know! -- Yellow Submarine

Hat tip to Rainbow Pastor for the following meme:

Name five things you are glad you learned in seminary/ministry training, hope to learn in seminary/ministry training, or wish you had learned in seminary/ministry training:

1. I wish that my lay ministry program got more into systematic theology. In fact, I'm considering dropping some serious change to take a do-it-yourself systematic theology class through the ELCA's continuing education program, for my own edification. It's good that we're studying The Story pretty much book by book, in a fairly rigorous way, but I want to better understand and articulate Lutheran theology -- what we do with The Story once we know it; how it all hangs together, how we frame it, in terms of thinking about and talking about God. I see a deficit in this regard among some of my fellow lay ministry students as well; at my retreats I've heard amateur theologizing from the peanut gallery that's made my hair stand on end because of its screaming un-Lutheranness, but I want to be able to confidently explain why it's not a Lutheran way of thinking.

2. I want at least a rudimentary knowledge of reading music...enough to see a pointed Psalm tone in a hymnal and be able to hum it, or get the general gist of an unfamiliar hymn. I feel handicapped in this regard, especially since so many of the others in my lay ministry program are gifted singers and musicians. I really feel like the deprived stepsister sometimes, musically speaking, during our corporate worship. I'll just sit here in the corner with my cinders while all the rest of y'all keep singing... (Actually, I hate not knowing how to do things. It drives me absolutely bat-ca-ca crazy, whether it's swimming or sight-reading or fixing things around the house. Any amateur therapists out there, feel free to analyze.)

3. I wish our program got more into the "people" part of doing lay ministry. We have periodic skill days where we've tackled subjects like initiating/leading educational programs and methods of anxiety management in the context of change and conflict within congregations...but I think we could do more, even though at this point I'm not sure what the "more" means.

4. I wish we got more into the worship choreography. Maybe we will; I don't know. Speaking as someone who spends a lot of time living in my head and not so much time getting comfortable in my own skin, I sometimes feel like a lumbering bovine when I'm front-and-center in worship, trying to stand in the appropriate manner and make the appropriate liturgical gestures. I'd like a skill day with a Bob Fosse of liturgical movement who'd teach us the moves with panache...who'd make us practice, practice, practice until it flows naturally.

5. I'm glad that we're getting a rigorous, challenging biblical education from our visiting seminary professors -- material that makes some of the students squirm. I really believe that this type of biblical education should not be the province of a chosen few, but should be integrated into religious education programs from cradle to grave. It's time. I truly think that's what Luther had in mind for the Church someday -- not a leveling of religious education to the lowest common denominator, but rather a lifting up of the laity in terms of their access to a real religious education. I don't think he would have wanted the Small Catechism to remain the measure of adult religious formation in a society where most Lutherans are relatively well educated and ready for a more challenging exploration of "What does this mean?"

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