Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Common Man's Commentary

I had a wonderful time up at Yale last week.

I had never been on the campus of an Ivy League University until I became emergent, and now I've been to Princeton and Yale (not bad for a fringe group).

One of the great things about going to hear a major Theologian is that it really encourages you about your place in the scheme of things.

I couldn't understand about 1/3 or maybe 1/2 of what he said. The other portion I loved and learned a lot from.

It shows me for sure I was never meant to be a formal scholarly theologian.

But I love the fact that there are many different types of Theologians.

When I was in college getting my BA in Christian Ministry at University of the Nations, the university started by the missionary organization, Youth With a Mission (YWAM), I did my biblical studies portion in their very unique and progressive style.

Myself and 24 other dear souls spent nine months together on a remote and beautiful portion of the Big Island of Hawaii, studying the bible 6-10 hours a day, using a method called inductive bible study. Using a set of tools that we had learned we read through each book five times, each time applying a different tool to the text - observing what was there, coming up with an outline of the entire book, asking what the text meant, why did the author say something, what did the original readers probably think he meant, etc., etc.

And so for nine of the most exhausting and amazing and spiritual months of my life, we trudged chapter by chapter, book by book through the entire bible - all 66 books. Besides studying all day every day, we had three class lecture/dialogs a week for three hours each. So we were able to be lead by others who had gone before and could help us in tough patches, along with be able to express and dialog and debate and get out of our heads and hearts all that was going in during the individual study.

Needless to say, we all bonded deeply as people who are enduring a difficult journey together do. And as time went on we could see the tendencies and gifting each brought to the text.

Towards the end of our time, one of my fellow classmates made me a little gift and made a comment about it to the class as he presented it to me - he had drawn a little book, and on the cover wrote, "The Common Man's Commentary by Jeff Kursonis"

What he had noticed and appreciated about me, was that no matter how abstract or intellectual or esoteric the dialog could become, I was always summarizing it or trying to guide it to a practical place that everyday Christians could use for their spiritual sustenance.

I eventually became an artist in NYC and spent years thinking about how artists could practically live out their spiritual lives and thrive artistically in this tough city.

So, I am a theologian. A practiotioner rather than scholar. Life, writers and theologians and prayer are my source materials as opposed to the original languages and other scholarly sources used by the professional scholars in the academy.

And I hope there are many other theologians out there in my church who through their sources think about God and his ways, and help me by practically applying what they have learned through the following communication formats: visiting someone in the group who is sick, buying me a sweet encouraging little present, cleaning up after the meeting, giving financially, starting a social justice ministry from our group, running an errand on my behalf, telling me they think I'm good looking, explaining the new covenant to me, and telling me why God does some things he does.

I still can't believe I survived that school back in 1987-88.

It's lovely just to remember it.

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