Note: there has been some further dust-up in the discussion between the Joneses. I want to comment on that, and I want to say something about what I think the future holds for the church on the brink of a new decade. But before I get to those items in my next post(s), I’ve decided to publish the following one, which I wrote and left in draft form after Tony Jones posted his rebuttal and before Andrew Jones posted his response to Tony. And if you’re not following that thread, just ignore this preamble and pay attention to what follows.
It’s become tradition for me to end the year with a look back at some favorite posts from the preceding year, and the end of 2009 should be no exception. Not only does it allow me to highlight some good content that others may have missed, it lets me reflect on the year just passed to outline some of the pertinent topics of conversation and what may (or may not) have changed over the last twelve months.
One of the things about the way I’ve been reading blogs lately is that I often get summaries after-the-fact and reactions from others on various topics and happenings, which offers me a shortcut to catching the drift of some notable posts. And sometimes in this exchange I feel perhaps I’ve missed something important. Often I let it just slip by, but then there are times when I find my feet just instinctively digging into the sand adjacent to home plate as my eye fixes itself on the ball. This time it’s internal bickering among some who insist that any bickering on these points could not be classified as internal, because It’s fun to exclude others.
Yesterday I posted an overview of the Didache to introduce what it is and where it came from, but essentially it’s an early Christian document from around the same time that the New Testament itself was still being written. “Didache” means “teaching”, and the document provides a compilation of (probably) oral tradition about what the apostles taught concerning community life. Today I’m blogging on Chapter 6 of Tony Jones‘ newest book, The Teaching of Twelve: Believing & Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community. The Didache is not a long document, but it is instructive for the fact that it deals with practical community matters during a time of liminality when the church was just coming to birth. We ought to imagine that it will offer us insight for a time when the church is undergoing a rebirth.
Philotheos Bryennios was born in March of 1833 at Constantinople. He was educated at the Theological School in Chalce of the Great Church of Christ and the universities of Leipsic, Berlin, and Munich, and in 1861 became professor of ecclesiastical history, exegesis, and other studies at Chalce. He was appointed master and director at Chalce in 1863, though he soon resigned these two positions. In 1867 he was called to Constantinople to be the head of the “Great School of the Nation” in the Phanar, or Greek quarter of Constantinople. He remained there until 1875 when he was sent by the Most Holy Synod of metropolitans and patriarchs to the Old Catholic conference at Bonn, where he receved a patriarchal letter announcing his appointment as metropolitan of Serrae in Macedonia. In 1877 he was transferred to the metropolitan see of Nicodemia, and in 1880 went to Bucharest on behalf of the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchal and other independent churches to participate in a commission dealing with Greek monastaries that had been plundered in Moldavia and Wallachia. In 1882, at the instance of the Holy Synod of Metropolitans in Constantinople and the patriarch Joachim Il., he wrote a reply (published by the Holy Synod) to the encyclical letter of Pope Leo XIII concerning the Slavic apostles Cyrillus and Methodius. The man was no theological slouch, and despite this list of accomplishments, none of these are the thing for which he is most remembered following his death in 1914 or 1918.
I spent last evening with an exceptional group of folks having some great conversation. Among the nine of us, it was billed as a debrief session for The Great Emergence conference with Phyllis Tickle a few weeks back. The four of us panelists/workshop leaders (Jamie Howison, Jamie Arpin-Ricci, Lesley Harrison, and yours truly) met together with the organizers (Christine Longhurst, Kara Mandryk, and Michael Boyce along with spouses Rachel Twigg Boyce and John Longhurst) to discuss the event just passed. I have to say it was some great conversation, both when it was on and off-topic.
The conference itself was quite good, and video is now online for the plenary sessions. (The Q&A is unavailable and the panel discussion was not recorded.) The organizers have also posted links to other reviews and resources from the conference, including an annotated bibliography. Rather than downloading the videos, you can view them online below.
This past weekend was the The Great Emergence one-day seminar in Winnipeg with Phyllis Tickle, sponsored by FaithForum (and others). Clearly, the event centered around Ms. Tickle’s book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why. A few of us (Jamie Howison, Jamie Arpin-Ricci, Lesley Harrison, and yours truly) were invited to participate in a panel discussion and present a workshop, leaving two plenary sessions for Ms. Tickle, the last of which included a good Q&A session.
Friday evening before the event, the organizers — Christine Longhurst, Kara Mandryk, and Michael Boyce — invited us to join them with Phyllis Tickle for dinner, and we landed in a little Laotian place well-recommended by Jamie Howison. We found Ms. Tickle to be warm, witty, and approachable, which was reinforced during her plenary sessions, in which she was not only intelligent and widely conversant with her topic, but also downright funny at times. And she’s got a delightful accent.
I think my blogging mojo must have got up and went. Like I said, my blogging frequency has dropped a bit over the past several weeks so that I’m no longer hitting my daily quota. I realized this morning that I only had one post separating my weekend posts, and yesterday I fizzled on my regular hymn series. I started writing the post this morning, but partway through I decided to hold it for next Sunday rather than publish it right away. It’s part of my Sunday series after all, and this isn’t Sunday. Saturday’s linkage was a bit lighter than usual as well, as I headed outdoors to get some work done in the yard. The new fence looks great by the way — thanks for asking.