Sunday, December 03, 2006

Lots of Fun Stuff This Weekend

There was lots of cool stuff happening this weekend, including the annual theology party and me going to Imago Dei for the first time. Here's how stuff happened:

The Theology Party

So last night I went to the annual theology event known as the Dutch Christmas party. Basically, the chair of the theology department is Dutch, and quite so. And so every year he gives a Dutch Christmas party for theology majors and faculty. This year was my first year going--as a prospective theolgoy major last year I'd been invited, but for reasons I can't remember, I didn't go. Ed, Tyler (not my roommate Tyler, a different Tyler) and I got a ride with my Modern Christianity professor, who is also the advisor to quite a few theology majors, and who herein I'll call the Advisor for sake of not using professors' names.

So we got to his house, and the beginning part was that we hung around for a bit and sampled the sort of Dutch candies and treats that had been prepared. One of them was this thing he (the Chair) called Dutch doughnuts. Apparently the routine with those is that you bite them and you take this white powder and put it on your plate, and you dip the part you bit into the powder and then eat some more of the pastry. It was pretty good. I had to avoid one candy because it had alcohol in it and despite everybody's statements to the contrary I'm not so quick to assume it was baked out.

Speaking of which it was very interesting to be at an event in which students (ones old enough) and faculty were drinking alcohol. I was a bit out of my comfort zone, I'll admit, to be talking with professors and shaking their hands when they were holding a drink in their other hand...Just different.

Some of the professors were really awesome, though, and I got to meet a few of them who I hadn't already, and talk to them about stuff, which was cool. Naturally, at least with me and I know with other people as well, theology was a topic of discussion. Of course it's going to happen when you organize a gathering around people who have what isn't exactly a sizeable major.

I also told my Bib-Trad professor about the Christian theology board game and asked if I could drop by some time to make sure I was treading more left-leaning theologies in an evenhanded manner. She said that would work, which was cool.

One of the professors read this poem by G.K. Chesterton prefacing the dinner prayer, a poem which I don't remember the name of--but it's all about the Nativity, and it's a good little meditation. The prayer was a Catholic one that I didn't know, and I was one of the few people who didn't seem to know it--but that's to be expected in a setting where one is one of the token Protestants. Dinner was self-served, which according to the Chair is a Dutch thing--that it's like your home, but that also means you serve your own food...which is actually quite fine. I had the spaghetti, which was good.

As the last "official" event of the evening, the Chair had all of the theology faculty go around and talk about what they'd been up to that last year as far as publications, books, etc. Then the Advisor did the same with majors, asking for a name, a bit about oneself and a theological insight we'd gained.

So I actually talked about how I'd been dialoguing with Xeirxes on matters of interpretation of Scripture and talking to him about questions he had about the Catholics. (Xeirx is an avid Calvinist, and I didn't mention him by name, partly as that might've required further explanation that wasn't really appropriate to give there regarding things like MZX, and which I've already given to anyone close enough to hear me mention said dialogues on a regular basis. However, I mentioned that the insight had come with respect to the Modern Christianity class, that insight being my learning about the sort of starting points of Calvinism with respect to biblical interpretation and whatnot--and how that had made dialogue that much more understandable. I also mentioned that I couldn't really answer his questions completely about Catholics because I wasn't one. A theology major friend of mine, Matt, mentioned that they could "fix that." I noted for the sake of the group not in on the joke that it was a running gag that I was doomed to be a Catholic someday--to which the Chair responded "you mean Predestined," and a good laugh was had.

After each person had spoken they were given a chocolate letter which I believe was supposed to match the first letter of their first name, although I think that might've been just for majors. (I'm not at all sure either way.) But apparently that's one of the Dutch traditions we did, and it was pretty awesome. After the big speaking time, we hung around for a bit longer, and eventually everybody started going, and the last few people sort of all left at once. Ed and I rode home with Matt--Tyler had left a bit earlier with the "Holy Cross Van"--and we had some more discussion on the way back, which was cool.

Imago Dei

So I went to Imago Dei with a few Mehling people--I'd talked to this person named Laurie about the possibility of going, which was how I wound up going on this Sunday. It was a pretty good experience overall. Apparently their Pastor is on sabbatical right now, which he hasn't taken since the church started about five years ago.

One thing that's sort of different about Imago Dei as opposed to other churches is that it actually meets in Franklin High School's auditorium. It worked out rather well, though. The band that was playing for worship was interesting; they had a guitar, an upright bass that was being plucked, a...I don't know, bass cello maybe? that was being bowed and a violin, as well as a percussionist/drummer guy. It's the first Sunday of Advent, so they did some stuff for that--a lot of stuff for that, actually. They did Christmas music--the first song was "O Come Emanuel" and the timing they chose wasn't my favorite, but "O Come Emanuel" is still "O Come Emanuel", and still awesome.

Then they did a reading, and then they did a song, then more reading, and I think another song...somewhere in there I think there was a sermonette involved. There was also, later on in the service, a five-minute meditation that this guy led where we were supposed to just focus and whatnot, and listen to Scripture being read. I actually thought it was rather good--the guy also made a very good effort to differentiate Christian meditation from the type more commonly found in Eastern religions.

Then there was a sermon about giving, but it was also a call to give. The guy said some stuff sort of like what Pastor Gene was saying, but he instead replaced gift-giving with giving towards needs only, and eschewing wants as far as that goes. As when Gene says stuff like that, I'm not sure I entirely agree, but I do agree with placing a lesser emphasis on want-based giving/receiving and I do really appreciate the sentiment of it, which is that we focus more on Jesus.

According to Laurie the service went about 30 minutes longer than it normally would. Much of those 30 minutes were taken up by missions/donations talk, which was fine. Some of the stuff they're connected to is pretty awesome--like working with a Middle School in Portland which serves a population with many homeless families in it, or working with an organization in Africa which has a goal of helping women get out of prostitution, and actually has helped a few.

At the end of the service (apparently, it's normally near the end but not actually at the end) there was communion, which was accompanied by instrumental renderings of hymns. I forget what the first was, but the second was "Be Thou My Vision" and it was really awesome stuff. Also, taking communion for the first time in months was a very positive experience, and I felt at least that I was generally right with God, which is always a plus when you're taking communion. They did it differently--here you take a piece of bread and dip it into the juice or wine (whichever you're comfortable with; I did in fact use the juice) and then take it.

One thing I really liked about Imago Dei was that they had a very hardcore social action emphasis, a very hardcore service emphasis--not just giving money or even just giving time, but like some of the programs they were involved with, actually trying to help to change peoples' lives. I would of course have to visit them in a less traditionally service-heavy time of year to be absolutely sure of this, but they seem at least from this service as though they might be more service-heavy by default than many other churches around. I think it might be part of God's plan to get me to fix the fact that as far as my Christian walk goes, my capacity for service sucks. I'm already thinking of ways I might remedy that next semester, but I'm thinking that even doing service could be a good thing to look into over the break as well--after all, it is advent.

Anyway, I had a fun weekend. But very soon now (within half an hour or so) the fun begins to give way to not failing at writing philosophy and theology papers which will probably be decent portions of those grades. Thank goodness Discrete Math isn't actually due this week. I might still go to mass tonight; I'm not sure entirely.


L-Po said...

Sounds like you had a very cool weekend. Lots of stuff to think about and digest.

nana said...

heavy duty, Daniel. I am so very proud of you. You are one of my heroes.

llgp said...

The theology party and the service both sound like they were great experiences. It also sounds like you enjoyed them both quite a bit. I'll be interested to hear more about the church if you continue to attend there.