OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.

Nothing to do with Mary at all

(This post and attached comments were moved from the Revelation 12 | Marian Significance thread. It has accidentally become a place for telling life-stories.)

Purely because this seemed to be the most recent comment and therefore as good a place as any to post this: does anyone ever wonder about the identity of people frequenting this website? Andrew: urbane, polished, polite, inclusive, fantastically perfectionist scholar and with a hugely formidable intellect; Chris - sometimes gruff, learned, scholarly; John - very pastoral, probably with a John the Baptist beard, gold-rimmed specs and a twinkle in his eyes; Eric - keeps popping up from the lab, probably clutching a cup of coffee in his hand, with copies of N.T.Wright’s books in a drawer, getting ready to abandon science and go for bible college; Ivan - strict, magisterial, inquisitorial; and then there are the round-the-world theo-techies: youthful idealists from bible colleges in the mid-west; mild mannered Quakers from the outback; either that or there are some serious insomniacs out there.

I get the impression that many on the site are middle-aged - tho’ Ivan comes across as relatively youthful (it’s only the youthful who can be so certain about what they think). Then there are the folk who disguise their true identities with mysterious sobriquets - like ‘Dissident Heart’ etc. del dominus - scientist, with a leaning to the whimsical in his syntax (but that’s not his real name is it?); Alarius - must be some obscure name from classical mythology - but frighteningly learned. Albanach - making shrewd side-snipes from the wings (that’s not a real name either is it?); and many more. Then there’s me.

Would it be a total shock if we were to meet ‘in the flesh’? Would these happy fantasies completely collapse, bursting like soap-bubbles in the air? Or am I the only one to indulge in these day-dreams? Forgive me for these highly personal, and probably somewhat intrusive speculations. But there is to me a Canterbury Tales quality to the website - it’s full of highly engaging and attractively enjoyable characters - all on a common pilgrimage, entertaining each other on the way with our stories … Or do we only exist only as cyber voices - internet wraiths - with no existence beyond our theological opinions - who would evaporate as the morning mist in the sun if we were to be exposed to the daylight of human interaction?

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More that's not about Mary

Very nice, Peter! I think there should be a forum topic for just this sort of chat. And, coincidentally, I was thinking similar thoughts this very morning!

Let me give a few details about me—some glimpses into my life. I am a newlywed of 8 months. I am a 32 y/o medical/graduate student at a Jesuit university near Chicago. I grew up evangelical, but have serious critique of that camp, though I still think of it as critique from within. I love the Anglican tradition, and once almost became Roman Catholic for ecumenical reasons, but the Marianism and Papism are too unpalatable. I am very sad that I cannot take communion with my Catholic friends (although, the Jesuits here would let me!). I am committed to a Vineyard church, but am increasingly frustrated in our particular environment and am learning how to hold my tongue except where it is absolutely necessary that I speak, and then only prayerfully—I am somewhat less than moderately successful. I already went to a Bible college that was real good at teaching students how not to think—some of the professors didn’t like my challenges, especially to pre-millenial approaches and especially because I didn’t have an alternative. I’ve gotten a lot better since then at not knowing more things. I love Kierkegaard and Wright. My mother-in-law is coming to visit us today for the weekend (first time since we were married).My wife and I are trying to adopt from Moçambique where she worked for a couple of years with an orphanage, but the country (MZ) has not yet complied with Hague International Adoption agreements.

On that note, we will be in London for 2 days in May, and I would love the opportunity to meet some of you!

Back to the dissertation. Thanks for the break, Peter! Hope you enjoy the ecclictic bit of information to fill out your picture better. The coffee mug part was spot on (even in lab, where I am not supposed to have it!).

Eric

London in May

Eric, let us know your dates when you have them and we’ll arrange at least an informal gathering in London.

The dates

Fantastic! We will be laying over on our way to MZ to see our kids, so it isn’t very much time. We land at LHR the morning of the 21st and leave LCY the morning of the 23rd. That means the best day is the 22nd, although the 21st will also work (you will just see a sorely jet-lagged man, since I do not sleep on planes, even with a nice cocktail of NyQuil plus alcohol! Not nervous or anything, just pumped!).

London

Let’s follow up on this here.

Or Maybe . . .

Nice to hear from you Eric, and I’d certainly appreciate meeting you when you are in London.

I tend to hop onto the website at convenient moments, and this is only a short one. I’ll perhaps give a thumbnail sketch of myself later.

I was wondering this morning when I was out for an early walk with our shetland dog, whether all our theological quests and quibbles were perhaps a cry for help from lonely academic garrets. I see from your post that this if far from the case.

I’m a church leader in Guildford, UK, on a leadership team in which I am not the senior leader. We have an unusual church philosophy, which works well with post-modern trends, though retaining a lot of the trappings of modernism. Our heart is evangelical - but only in the sense that that means good news, and there is a good news which is at the heart of scripture, but more importantly is lived out in lives which are changed by supernatural encounter with the biblical Jesus.

I’m married, with two daughters, a long standing love for Africa, and plenty else besides. I am en ex-English teacher. I also very much appreciate John Wimber and the Vineyard churches, though we are not of that network.

That’s all for now.

53, short and balding

I’m also 53, short and balding (which is useful information for Andrew, as we’re meeting on Thursday this week at Waterloo station) and wear steel-rimmed glasses. I became a Christian at Oxford university in 1972 - where I just missed the 1968 student happenings, but that sort of thing was still pretty much in the air. I neither tasted nor inhaled marijuana, though had plenty of opportunities. I was studying English Lit and Lang. Went on to teach at a grammar school in Guildford, for 11 years. Started travelling with church teams into Eastern Europe, which led to some hair-raising escapades. Married Annelise, my wife, in 1983; we both joined Youth With a Mission in 1984 (in our 30’s - but we weren’t the youngest). In the next 2 years this took us all over Europe, and in 1987 to Kenya, which led by a series of ‘God-ordained’ co-incidences to a connection with Zimbabwe which continues to this day. Also have had involvement with Operation Mobilisation - on its Leadership Schools in N.Wales - ministering to missionaries from all over the world, all types of mission organisations. Also over seven years had involvement in Finland with YWAM minstries - involving my family, which consistes of two daughers (now aged 14 & 16) and my wife). We have travelled in Africa together as a family over a number of years.

My giving of more time to our church in Guildford (Guildford Community Church) began in 1987, and has continued through a variety of reincarnations to this day. I have never wanted to be lumbered with being a senior chuch leader, and have managed to avoid that so far (actually, I don’t think anyone would want that). I’m more of a teacher than a pastor, but more of a pastor than a prophet, and more of an evangelist than an apostle, but not much of either of the last two. I have the heart-beat of an evangelist, but like many I suppose, don’t feel very good at it in practice. My passion is for overseas mission, and a good number of our congregation are facilitated in this by the missions team which I lead. (We sent out 28 folk on short term missions last summer, and have a number of long-term missionaries in various parts of the world).

We have a peculiar way of leading our congregation in which we the philosophy is that vision is contained in the body of the church, and doesn’t need to come from the leadership superhero. We are very much affected by different kinds of ‘deconstruction’ of church, which makes it paradoxical that we continue to have the general form and practice of a traditional ‘congregation’ - though with charismatic trappings.

My experience of church is such that I want to be very eclectic and inclusive, and not tied in to any one way of doing things, or any one group. Finding this website has been a revelation for me - and like others, I really appreciate the level of interaction and consensuality that is apparent.

It has also become a huge displacement activity - taking my attention from things I should be getting on with - like right now! I’m trying to do a Masters degree in Biblical Hermeneutics with London School of Theology - but keep getting distracted by things which are more interesting - like talking about N.T.Wright on thie website. I get so engrossed in the website, that I can come away forgetting what time or day it is! I hope I’ll be able to meet with some of you on May 22nd.

I am also really appreciating the other bios, which contain amazing depth and interest. I hope mine doesn’t sound too much like a C.V.

Outing myself

I’m new to OST, so I guess I don’t have a reputation yet, but my bio is as follows:

I was a Presbyterian minister for 5 years in a southern US megachurch. I suppose I’m a classic burnout case. Two years into it, I had my first son, and I spent the next 3 years discovering that either the ministry, or my family, had to go. I like to think I made the right choice.

I’m now back in school in Wisconsin, pursuing graduate studies in Electrical Engineering. So you might surmise that my passions lie at the interface of theology and technology. I’ve seen many attempts to foster a faith community / religious dialogue through the internet, but none that I’ve come across compare to this one.

So kudos to all responsible. Which, I suppose, means all of you.

I wonder if whoever moderates / maintains this site could move these posts to a different thread. At some point, every contributing member of a community must identify themselves. And it’s my belief that a knowledge of someone’s personal history tends to make me more sympathetic with that person’s opinions. So I think it could be a fruitful enterprise.

It also brings up another topic of discussion — the internet and anonymity: when is it good, when is it bad; can authentic relationships be developed through text messaging, and if so, what are the best ways to promote this? These are not trivial questions for an “emerging theology” in a world that has become much more broadly, but less deeply, connected.

I found myself having an unexpected reaction to Peter and Eric’s exchange. As they spoke of meeting one another in London, I got a mild case of the willies. I still find the step from internet-meeting to face-to-face-meeting a little creepy — totally irrational but yet it’s there. There’s something about meeting a person IN PERSON that establishes trust on a level that dialoguing on a web site does not. Perhaps it’s the nonverbal cues. Perhaps its a latent visual form of bigotry — is there something we look for in a person’s appearance that says “safe?” I don’t know. I have many casual acquaintances (of all colors and creeds) that I would not think twice about having over for dinner. Yet I would feel uncomfortable inviting any of you because I don’t “know” you. No offense intended, it’s just an observation of the skepticism I hold toward the medium. The likelihood of any of you being clever, lonely stalker types is slim, I admit. And yet the creepiness persists.

I’m only 33 years old, am I already a technophobe?

"Alario's Tale"

Thank you Peter and each of you for these wonderful introductions. I too have been having similar thoughts about the persons with whom I’ve been sharing what are often rather personal thoughts, observations and ideas.

Not a techno-adept, I blundered into Alario, thinking it was a password rather than an online nom de plume (or de guerre, an impression I believe I sometimes give when I respond too bluntly and too quickly to someone’s post-for which I crave pardon and forgiveness from any I may have offended). The name is nothing so inspiring as myth or legend-it is a character in a film starring Denzel Washington, Meg Ryan and Matt Damon called Courage Under Fire.

I offer this not so brief portrait to avoid being an internet wraith and to reveal something of flesh and blood.

I “accepted” Christ at about age 11 in my home town of New Orleans, Louisiana in a telephone conversation with my Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher-but did not go forward at an “alter call” and was not baptized. I quit going to church and sunday school altogether at 12 and did not set foot in a church until 22.

During most of those ten years I chased girls, played football and drums in a fairly decent local “rock” band (playing everything from Van Morrison/Jimi Hendrix/Doors to Dave Clark V/Rolling Stones/Jefferson Airplane).

The sports and the music in night clubs and parties were going on simultaneously and without interruption all during Jr. High School and High School. It was exhausting and rather schizophrenic trying to be a “straight, ie. non-drug using student/athlete and a musician in a time of inexpensive drugs and “free” love, keeping two sets of friends and girl friends, all the while trying to keep friends, parents, lovers, coaches and teachers happy. It was a downward spiral in all aspects of spirit, soul and body that was, at first, almost imperceptible but which increased rapidly in velocity and, seemingly, was unstoppable and irreversible.

On a balmy, pleasant, American deep-south, moonlight and magnolia summer eve I would have ended my own life had I not had an encounter with the risen Lord, Jesus Christ who I had “accepted” ten years earlier. All of the accusations made against me by the “accuser of the bretheren” (in a wide awake terrifying walpurgis night experience in my bedroom) were true and were such that I had neither answer nor defense and ending life seemed appropriate and fair. Thinking that my parents would be unable to bear their grief gave me sufficient pause to call on God in prayer for the first time in ten years. The fear and spirit of self destruction passed and I wept for nearly an hour.

Believing I had gone stark raving mad, naturally, like all who are slow of hearing and heard of heart, I wanted a sign from God. As Jesus is far more gracious than I am smart, He gave me one.

The next night when I was at work (I also held down several jobs during this time), a friend, fellow drug taker and small time “weed” dealer called me and asked me to come to visit him and his wife at their apartment after work that evening. I demurred several times, and when he persisted, I demurred some more. Finally, he insisted and told me, and I quote verbatim from memory, “Look, Larry, I don’t want to smoke any weed, I want to talk about Jesus and show you some stuff in the Bible. I just got “saved” last night.”. When we met that evening and discussed things we concluded that our two “experiences” took place simultaneously between 10:30 PM and 11:30 PM the previous evening.

The spiritual journey has taken me back into the Southern Baptist denomination, a very large charismatic non-denominational church, a smaller charismatic non-denominational church which was esentially a cluster of “home churches” with an altogether too heavy emphasis on “discipleship”, a period of disillusionment with no church at all, the Episcopal Church in America (ECUSA), another period of disillusionment, and, finally, a Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) where we are permanently planted.

I have had several ministeries over the last 29 years, from heading up a Sunday morning outreach to a detox ward at a large municipal public hospital to teaching Sunday School to pastoring a home church. To borrow some lyrics, “what a long strange trip it has been!”.

I am 51, took my degree in History with a minor in film/TV, married to the same sweet girl for 25 years, two daughters and two sons, soon to be grandfather of three. Wife is a PhD in English (Rhetoric/Composition), youngest daughter in local college pursuing BS in Sciences, oldest daughter is married to childhood sweetheart, has second daughter on the way and has her masters in History from Berkely. Both sons are infantrymen currently serving in the United States Marine Corps. OoohRah! (in case you’re reading this sons-or any of their brothers or sisters)

I prefer the Authorized Version not just because it is beautiful prose but because I don’t believe older is always better and the manuscripts used by the translators, I think, are superior to the Vatican codex and the Mt. Sinai codex. Having said that, there is some room in my thinking for the idea of the majority text.

Favorite filmmaker is Sir David Lean. Favorite actors are Robert Shaw and Denzell Washington. Favorite actresses are Maureen O’Hara (she and my wife could be twins)and Audrey Hepburn.

My favorite movie is a tie between Lawrence of Arabia, Casablanca and The Best Years of Our Lives.

Music is eclectic: Dave Brubeck/Vince Guaraldi/Nat King Cole/Johnny Mercer for one group and Van Morrison/Beatles/Supremes/Temptations for another. Barber’s Adagio is great but depressing. Dvorak is all good and Bach, J.S. is mindbending. Way too much to go into here.

Favorite Beer: Samuel Adams(Brewer; Patriot). (Though it is family tradition on our 4th of July barbecue cookout celebration to drink Bass Pale Ale, go around all day asking each other why are we drinking that particular brand and answering each other with the cry of freedom, “Because we can!”. Stupid, silly, but very meaningful and traditional for my clan.)

Favorite Novel: another tie-R.F. Delderfield’s “To Serve Them All My Days”, C.S Lewis’ “That Hideous Strength”, Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” and Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn”.

My favorite hymn is “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation”. Joachim Neander (1650-1680) was 23 years old, fell in with a bad crowd and went into a church to mock the foolish christians. He was converted and later served as a priest in that very church. He wrote the words as he was dying. Consider the last verse:
“Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before him.
Let the amen
sound from his people again,
gladly for all we adore him.”

Favorite scripture is the entire letter to the Colossians.

I still love Van Morrison and my wife and I still dance to “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Moondance”. Our children like it when we do.

This has been “Alario’s Tale”. Alario is Larry Curtis. May God’s grace and peace be upon us all.

unbearded emerging pastor?

Peter, thanks for a hugely engaging contribution when you wrote your ‘Nothing to do with Mary’ post. I thought your comments showed a very interesting sense of discernment.

So, what about myself?

Well, I actually gave up my pair of gold-rimmed specs just over two years ago for some rimless ones which have been falling about, losing their shape all over the place ever since. They may get replaced this very week; perhaps the gold rims will make a comeback! Can’t help with the beard, on the other hand. Despite my eight and thirty years, happily blond facial hair grows very slowly upon me, leaving me able to go days without shaving :)

On the other hand, I loved and laughed at your comment regarding the twinkle in the eyes. Occassionally, the cares of this world do glaze it over, but it’s not long before the people around me notice the difference, jolting me out of morosity and back into relative joie d’vivre. Pastoral? Well, it’s the first time I’ve looked at myself that way, but I suppose it is something that’s been growing in me.

When I’m not pounding the keys on OST, I’m maintaining my own website - www.eternalpurpose.org.uk - and networking with people in connection with that emerging ministry and the travels it sometimes entails. I’m not presently a regular congregational attendant. I facilitate a discussion group called ‘talking shop,’ which gathers between four and ten men, twice a month in a local hostelry, to discuss theological issues in an informal manner.

I’m enabled to be devoted to all of this by the generous support of my wife (of fourteen+ years and four children) and my business partner; I began the self-employment businesses which they now individually run about nine years ago. I’m also distance-studying for a Master’s in Intercultural Studies; in between these various activities I day-dream about completing a book I’ve begun about God’s Covenant People and What we are Called to Be.

If a more expansive / inclusive meeting in London were being thought about for May: I would certainly be interested in meeting up with some other OST folk. I actually met several fellows named Chris at the People of God conference, last July, and each one I asked turned out not to be the one from the OST website - so Chris, gruff, learned, scholarly, should some of us get together, perhaps you might also reveal yourself?!

Shalom!
 John

I think I'd love to sit aroun

I think I’d love to sit around and chew things over with you all in person. I really like theological give-and-take when there’s no resort to authority. (I do recognize the authority of Scripture, but don’t want someone telling me I have to interpret it their way when it seems to mean something different.)

I’m a middle-aged missionary who started off as a church planter (I’ve led or been on more than 10 new church plant teams). I helped establish a Bible college, and taught there for several years. Right now I’m working on a Ph.D. in New Testament (from a secular university) and am setting up a graduate program for my tradition’s church leaders in Asia.

I don’t like ivory-tower philosophy that speculates as a form of auto-entertainment, but I do tend to see practical ramifications for theoretical positions, and theoretical ramifications for practical tactics and strategy. My passion for the mission of the church—frequently IMO ill-founded—drives my interest in biblical theology.

What I like about this site is the community’s willingness to re-examine our own presuppositions and hermeneutical keys, and the reliance on persuasion and consensus over the authority of tradition and creed. While I think the truly effective church leaders of a post-modern age will be charismatic leaders rather than beer-hall theologians, I like to think that those beer-hall theologians will have greatly influenced the church’s leaders.

The Inquistor's Tale

In the spirit of this current thread, I thought I’d fill in the gaps about myself.

I’m 34 and worship with a small, interdenominational house fellowship here in Stoke-on-Trent. The journey I’ve taken to get here is quite convoluted, but has in some sense brought me full circle. I was reared in a mainstream Pentecostal church (Elim movement) and although I grew up in a home where the Bible was very much an open book and learned to appreciate it deeply, any real experience of the Lord in my life was strangely elusive. I was known for my above average knowledge of the Scriptures and was always sought out to represent the Church in the annual Sunday School quiz etc. and I loved to learn about the characters and events of the Bible. But God seemed always to keep his distance. I recall very often leaving the Church feeling chronically depressed, upset at seeing other young people speakingof God in terms of personal relationship and proving him accordingly. I never felt such closeness.

The result was that by my mid-teens I had drifted away from the Church and Christianity. To cut a long story short, I wound up involved in New Age and neo-pagan thought and practise for a number of years, until around 1994 when I turned my back on that and threw my lot back in with the Church, so to speak! But again, the old sterility in my walk with God was all too evident and I was again in danger of spiritual relapse by the turn of the millennium.

The real turning point was when I picked up the book ‘Rome Sweet Home’ by Scott and Kimberly Hahn which is the most uplifting and encouraging spiritual biography I have ever had the privilege to read. Here I found the story of a straight-laced Presbyterian who becme convinced of the Biblical foundation of Catholic doctrine and the presentation of it as such to the readers of this book truly spoke to my heart. For the first time I felt that God was near.

After the book, I embarked on my own study of the Scriptures and learned more, strengthening my own convictions further on the subject of Catholic doctrine etc, and realising this as the common heritage of all believers whatever tradition they belong to. In this respect, I see the Catholic faith as a potentially unifying principle. My own journey continues and I am currently in contact with the local Catholic priest with a view of consummating this act of faith by officially joining the RC Church.
Peter thought of me as ‘strict, magisterial and inquisitorial’! I hope I’m not that bad! I do tend to see things in black and white, but I pray I’m not too closed minded on issues. Minor details about myself: I enjoy reading (Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ at present), and my music taste is pretty eclectic. From the Christian rock of ‘Petra’ to Bach’s ‘Ave Maria’.

I also produce a small, homespun periodical called ‘Sacred Truth’ which seeks to excite folks about Catholic faith and to get them opening their Bibles to discover more. Hoping to expand readership if possible.

So that’s the Inquisitor’s Tale, or some of it at least. Please pray for this often all too inadequate pilgrim.
 ’

from the Lord

My last name is Del Signore, which is derived from the Latin name Del Dominus, which translates to “from the Lord” in English.

I was born in Northern Italy, and now live in the New York/New Jersey area, working professionally in the Graphic arts. I am 38 years old with a beautiful wife and two young kids – Michael Angelo and Kara Noelle.

I am currently jealous for “time” so I find myself reading the posts in OST rather than interacting. “Even a fool is thought wise when he keeps silent.” ( Proverbs 17:28)

del dominus

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