What Is This Place?

This is a theology blog. It is also a Bible blog, and sometimes a philosophy blog. I don't stick to one topic very well. Instead, I range widely. My virtue is that I make connections. I draw things together that too often prefer to be separate, no matter how well they belong with one another. That said, if there's one topic I do stick to, it's really more of a meta-topic: ethics. Everything here comes back, faster or slower, to ethics. For me, ethics is the nature of useful work. The blog also hosts a smattering of other things that are here simply because this is where I wrote them, but most of them still contribute in some way to some kind of useful work. And to that end, this blog is my workbench, my drafting table, my writing desk. I make things here, and I also take things apart, diagnose what's wrong with them, clean them up, and repair them here.

I'm a bit of an oddball. At school, it isn't obvious that I am. I do my work in a seminary, which is basically a mechanic's shop for practical theology. Everything comes down to putting wheels on the ground. We work on making and repairing practical theologians—and we also turn out our share of theological mechanics. And that's my story: I went into the shop to be made road-ready for the church, and found that I liked getting my hands dirty doing repair work, tune-ups, and the occasional custom work instead. I'm a blue-collar theologian at heart, working in a place full of working preachers and theologians and scholars—a mechanic among mechanics.

But when I talk to my wife, or my many friends out in parish, it is pretty obvious that I belong where I live—in the workshop. My wife does the experiential theology in the family. She's had theological training, too, but she moves from the Bible right into life in ways that don't come to me. I have plenty of the meditative, contemplative streak, but no mysticism. I analyze, however devotionally. Which means that, faced with an issue, I always take it over to the bench and examine it, figure out how and why it works, what it does and what it means to do, and what it ought and ought not to do. And I do this because I don't trust most things the way they look right off. Truth is a matter of deep inspection. And so you could call me an academic, but what I really am is a technician. I do my share of practical theology—I've been trained to preach, I know the liturgy, and I dearly love doing pastoral care—but my call is to understand, maintain, and repair the faith of the church. To make sure that it can be used safely to do what it is supposed to do.

This blog has has been around since 2008, when I started writing my M.A. thesis in preparation for the doctoral program. I knew then that I needed a workshop, but I was pretty slow in moving into the new space and using it. It only really became useful in 2010 when I started my first set of comprehensive exams. That was when I really started writing to understand. And that's still a lot of what I do here: writing to understand. Writing to explain the faith, to help others understand. Fides quaerit intellectum, ergo credo ut intelligam.

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