Archive for Caronport – Page 2

The Work of the Holy Spirit in Spiritual Formation

Holy Spirit Stained Glass

Holy Spirit Stained Glass (Photo credit: hickory hardscrabble)


“The wonder of prayer is the incoming of the Holy Spirit, to the help of the [person] who is praying. It is the Spirit’s sighing, which, to be sure, is in our moth; yet as his groaning, who creates out of the [person] who is sober or drunken or finical…out of a [person] of that kind, the Holy Spirit makes a person who actually, really prays.”(Karl Barth, The Holy Spirit and the Christian Life: A Theological Basis of Ethics, trans. by R. Birch Hoyle (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), 68

I’m doing the first lecture of my internship today in the college, freshman-level, Spiritual Formation class. Prayers would be appreciated.

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Women and Vocation Panel Discussion

Last year, I was invited to participate in a panel discussion on women and vocation. The theme was Women in Academia. Last night, I was invited once again to participate on the panel. This year’s theme was Spiritual and Biological Parenting. There were four panelists in total. Three of us were mothers and the fourth panelist was a woman who has served in youth ministry for 25 years and did not have kids of her own. We talked about challenges, joys, and attitudes. We talked about how parenting fits or doesn’t fit with God’s calling on our lives. What follows is my main point that I made in bringing my perspective. It is a mash up of the notes that I took in advance and the comments that I made off the cuff while participating in the discussion.

I think one of the most dangerous messages in the church today is that a Christian woman’s highest calling is to be a wife and mother. This is at the least bad theology, and at the worst heresy. A Christian woman’s highest calling is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Anything else is nothing more than an adjective. And so, that means that if my husband becomes more important in my life than my relationship with Christ then I have, in a way, committed idolatry. The same goes for my kids. If they become my all-consuming, then there is something wrong there. Now this isn’t to say I don’t love my kids and I don’t give them my full attention, but they are not, and will not be, the sum of my existence.

Especially given the life-stage I am in (mom with pre-school kids), I see a very dangerous trend where moms spend 24/7 with their kids and have no identity apart from them. On so many levels this can be unhealthy, not just for their Christian faith but also for their marriages. What happens when the children leave home and it’s just the husband and wife together again? Will they have anything in common? Will they even know each other? And the problem is that many of the “Christian” parenting messages out there seem to promote this absolute, obsessive imbalance as being “biblical.”

That being said, if I would to try to explain how being a parent fits within my calling to be a disciple of Jesus, then I would say that my children are precious gifts that have been entrusted to me by God, and my job is to be a good steward of the gifts that He has given me.

My identity and calling are not dependent on my being married and having kids. As someone who struggled, and still struggles, with infertility, I have had to learn that whether I am single or married, have kids or don’t, that doesn’t change my calling. I am called to be a faithful disciple of Jesus, to follow where he leads, and to obey the Holy Spirit as he works in my life.My identity as a disciple of Jesus is grounded not in my marital status or the number of children I have, but in the person and work of Jesus. I am not more Christian because I have kids, nor I am less of a Christian if I don’t have kids.

Are there ways parenting and my vocation conflict? Well, when we’re trying to juggle class and kids, Chuck’s job, and the cost of babysitting, it feels like a swirling vortex of conflict. But at the same time, this short term pain and chaos has a long term benefit. By pursuing my calling, by getting my degree I will be able to serve and provide for my kids (and coming from a single-parent home, this is hugely important. Too often women don’t think about the “what if something happens to your husband” be it divorce or death and you are on your own to provide for your kids?) and be a model for them of what it means to be an obedient disciple of Jesus.


A Seminary Student’s Christmas Wish List

Growing up, my mom said that we could put anything we wanted on our Christmas lists. It didn’t mean we would get everything (or anything) on our lists, because our lists were “wish” lists and  not “get” lists. In the spirit of that wish list, I offer today my Seminary Student Christmas Wish List.

What I Want For Christmas:

  • Heat in S115.
  • For the contract with Coca-Cola to be dropped in favour of a contract with Pepsi.
  • Electrical plugs installed at the Bean for people’s laptops.
  • A big endowment for the Seminary that would cut tuition rates in half.
  • An indoor play space at the Crossroads for the little kids to play on when it’s forty below (translation: for six months of the year)
  • For the student lounge to be turned into a bar.
  • More single men (note: this isn’t my wish; its Lori’s wish and I wish it for Lori).
  • For the Bean to regularly stock potato chips as a snack option.
  • A new course offering: Theology and Science Fiction
  • For a pizza joint to be opened in town.
  • A dedicated prayer room.
  • For the entire town of Caronport to be moved closer to Regina.


Off Topic: Christmas Craft Sale in Caronport

Next weekend, November 30 to December 2, I will be participating in the annual Christmas Craft Sale at Briercrest College and Seminary. This craft sale is in conjunction with the annual Christmas Concert put on by the music arts department at Briercrest. To those of you who live in Caronport or southern Saskatchewan and are planning to attend, please print off the attached coupon flyer to receive a discount on your Christmas shopping at my table. Merry Christmas!


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The Identity of Leviathan and the Meaning of the Book of Job — By Dr. Eric Ortlund

One of my favourite things about seminary is being able to hear about what the professors are currently researching. At Briercrest, there are monthly/bi-monthly colloquia, where faculty present their latest paper, research, or test out material for presenting at academic conferences. On Friday, Dr. Eric Ortlund, professor of Old Testament presented on “The Identity of Leviathan and the Meaning of the Book of Job.” The tech people recorded the colloquium and it’s now available for those who weren’t able to attend. (Let’s hope they video all the colloquia this year!)

And Now For Something Completely Different…

…or, this is what happens when my brain is fried.

I sometimes dream about doing something very physical, very practical, and something very not academic. It’s my escape, a way to give my brain a break, a way to cultivate my imagination.

I want to open a pizza shop in Caronport. Can you believe that there is no pizza shop in this college town? How great would a pizza shop be?

And so, in my imagination, I open a pizza shop. It’s a one-counter store. No tables, for people to sit it at, it would mostly be a “take away” concept.

I call it Theo Pizza. And the pizzas are named after theology topics and theologians.

The basic pepperoni and cheese is called The Apostolic – the original, basic pizza that becomes the foundation for all other pizzas.

Pizza flavours that I don’t like get to be named after heretics. So the Hawaiian pizza (by far the worst pizza in the world), would be named The Arius.

The meat-intensive pizza, sometimes called the Meat Pizza or the Mega Meat would be called The Karl Barth, because we all know that his Dogmatics are awfully meaty.

A basic super-cheesy pizza could be called The Joel Osteen.

And of course, there would have to be a pizza named after Caronport. So in honour of the long winter, I would create The Caronport — a white pizza with alfredo sauce, cheese, chicken, potatoes, feta and white onions.

Come and join me in the land of imagination. I invite you to imagine yourself at Theo Pizza. What pizzas do you envision on the menu and what would they be called?

Barth’s Interpretation of the Virgin Birth

Ashgate has announced the release of a new book on Karl Barth: Barth’s Interpretation of the Virgin Birth by Dr. Dustin Resch. Dustin is Assistant Professor of Theology and Dean of the Seminary at Briercrest College and Seminary. Dustin is a great professor, and his new book is a fantastic addition to the world of Barth scholarship.

I recently posed some questions to Dustin about his research, and here are his responses:

CWT: Schleiermacher rejected both the historicity and the theological necessity of the virgin birth, saying that it was a doctrine that did not adequately explain Christ’s sinlessness. How does Barth react to the understanding of the virgin birth in the theology of Schleiermacher and other Liberal Protestants of the 19th and 20th centuries?

Dustin: Would it be too cheeky to ask you to buy the book to find out the answer(!)? Seriously, though, this is one of the central questions that the book aims to address. The really short answer is that Barth doesn’t do too much to rehabilitate the historicity of the virgin birth, at least on the terms of his contemporaries and immediate predecessors. Instead, Barth devoted his energies to examining what it was that the New Testament authors and the early church found compelling about the teaching that Christ took his human origin from the Holy Spirit, rather than a human father.

In order to do that he teases out the “inner necessity” and “appropriateness” of the teaching of the virgin birth within the broader contours of the great themes of Scripture and the Gospel. This involves Barth in re-thinking the Augustinian linkage between Christ’s virgin birth and his sinlessness. It also places Barth in close dialogue with Roman Catholic Mariology. In the end, Barth argues that the virgin birth a sign of the mystery of God acting in the world but a sign that actually expresses something true and profound about the contours of that mystery. What I found so interesting about this topic is that this rather little doctrine of the virgin birth became an entry into some of the most fascinating aspects of Barth’s theology—biblical interpretation, Christology, election, human agency, soteriology, ecclesiology, and even spirituality!

CWT: Will evangelicals find Barth’s understanding of the virgin birth helpful or is it too Barthian?

Dustin: Another great question, but one I’m not certain how to answer. On the one hand, a large number of important evangelical theologians have come out as “Barthian” with regard to the virgin birth, the late Stanely Grenz and Donald Bloesch among them. Others, I think, have found Barth’s lack of willingness really to engage much in questions of historicity rather off-putting. I think that the most helpful thing that Barth can offer to evangelicals is a way of reading Scripture theologically—his use of aesthetic categories in determining the “necessity” of the virgin birth was quite helpful for me.

CWT: How did you become interested in Barth?

Dustin: As a student at Briercrest Seminary I wrote an MA thesis on Donald Bloesch’s doctrine of Scripture, which introduced me to Barth’s view of Scripture and interpretation. When I was searching for a dissertation topic at McMaster University, I wanted to find a way to study the theological interpretation of Scripture, but I didn’t want to get bogged down in hermeneutics. My supervisor wisely guided me to find a topic in which I could see a master theologian’s interpretation of Scripture at work on a live theological issue—hermeneutics in action, we might say. Barth was an obvious choice as a focus for this endeavour because, not only does he read Scripture so deeply and creatively, he does so as a modern theologian in dialogue with the some of the great thinkers of the western tradition—Irenaeus, Augustine, Thomas, Calvin, Luther, Schleiermacher, etc.

CWT: You did your doctorate at McMaster University under a Patristics expert. How did the influence of a Patristics expert influence your reading and understanding of Barth?

Dustin: That is a wonderful question! My supervisor was Dr. Peter Widdicombe at McMaster University who, in addition to having written a landmark book on Trinitarian theology in the work of theologians from Origen to Athanasius, has been working in the field of the patristic interpretation of Scripture. Peter’s knowledge of the texture of patristic theology and biblical interpretation helped me to see both how Barth remained indebted to the modern protestant heritage, but also retrieved ideas and interpretive practices from the early church. One very practical aspect of working with a patristics scholar was that it became increasingly difficult to become overly-infatuated with Barth—a temptation to which I was rather prone! Peter helped me to remember that the Christian intellectual tradition is broad and deep outside of Basel too.

CWT: Now that your dissertation has been officially published, what’s next on your research plate?

Dustin: I think that if there is a dotted line of research that has continued from my dissertation days to my current interests, then that is likely question of the human appropriation of God’s grace. In the dissertation and book I had the opportunity to explore Barth’s view of Mary. I felt like his treatment of her was less than satisfactory and wondered if perhaps there was more to Catholic Mariology than he thought. My teaching load for the past couple of years and the work that I do in the local church have also involved me in exploring traditions and practices of Christian spirituality. I think that some of these things are coalescing as I explore things like traditions of prayer, forms of worship, sacramental theology, the theology of the Saints, etc. I’d eventually like to write some of my reflections in a book on the theology of spiritual formation. I’d also like to re-visit certain Protestant criticisms of Catholic practices to see if perhaps I might contribute to rapprochement on those fronts. My friend, Tim Perry, has done some really important work in his book, Mary for Evangelicals (InterVarsity, 2006). I wonder if I might walk a bit of the trail that he has blazed.

So if you get a chance, check out Dustin’s new book! Also, if you haven’t already, check out Karl Barth on the Filioque, by Dr. David Guretzki, another professor here at Briercrest.

What I’m Working On

It’s been a little slow here at Cheese-Wearing Theology. I’m currently finishing up my mod class on Christology. I have to do a review of Moltmann’s Jesus Christ For Today, and I’m doing my major paper on Barth’s understanding of “The Word Became Flesh” in John 1 (I’m primarily looking at his commentary Witness to the Word).

It’s been a busy summer. Not only have I been trying to do schoolwork while not having regular, structured childcare for the little cheese-wearers, Chuck’s been busy teaching classes, prepping for the fall, and preparing to speak a psychology conference in the fall. I’ve been making jam and baked goods to sell at the Caronport Farmer’s Market every Saturday as a way to make some money to pay for the textbooks I need in the fall. On top of all that, our 20 year old car has entered the “something breaks every month” stage.

I also have to start prepping for my three fall classes: Spiritual Formation, Research Methods, and Pauline Epistles. Realistically, I can’t really start prepping until I get this Christology work done (due date August 24th). We’re entering the home stretch of my degree. Just these three classes and then on to thesis in the winter.

Needless to say, it’s been a stressful summer and it will probably be an action-packed fall. I’m starting to feel it: I’m tired. I’m weary. I’m hot. And I have no creative thoughts bopping around in my head (which is really, really rare).

Prayers would be appreciated.

Welcome To Caronport

Ah August. Summer is almost over. The evenings are growing cooler. Gardens are almost ready to harvest. College students have begun to trickle back into the ‘Port. New families are moving in and getting settled before the school year begins. Welcome to Caronport!

I thought it would be a good idea to give a Primer on living in Caronport. We moved here in January 2010, and it has been an experience! So here’s all the information I wish I had had when we first moved. (And if you read this blog and know of someone who is moving to Caronport and would find this helpful, please be sure to pass it along).

1. You cannot buy Pepsi products anywhere in the village limits. Nope. Not a single one. Coca-Cola has a stranglehold on this village, and as I’ve said before I’m not sure about the theological implications of this.

2. Church options. In Caronport there are two churches: The Gathering which meets at the Landing (on Centre Street, big white building you can’t miss it), and Caronport Community Church which meets in the Edwards Chapel in the main college building. It is not uncommon for Caronportians to travel into Moose Jaw (20 minutes down the highway) for church. A full list of MJ churches can be found here. I’ve written about how we prayed and struggled about where to worship, you can read about it here.

3. It is physically, statistically, temporally impossible to shop at Superstore (in Moose Jaw) without running into at least one person from Caronport. Impossible. I’ve never been to Superstore and not run into a Caronportian. Speaking of shopping, because there is no grocery store in Caronport, Moose Jaw is the place to shop. There is Superstore, Sobey’s, Safeway and Coop for groceries. There is a Wal-mart. The mall is pretty sad, but it’s where the movie theatre, Dollarama and Sears are. There are neat shops in the bustling downtown of Moose Jaw, and lots of banks. And of course, Tim Horton’s. It’s also not uncommon for Caronportians to drive an hour to Regina for bigger shopping fare (e.g., Costco).

4. Caronport has a Husky gas station, a convenience store, a Subway and a Coffee Shop all in one building just off the highway. Collectively, this building is called The Point. No, Caronport does not have a restaurant and it hasn’t had one for nine years now. If you spend any time at The Point you will hear at least three tourists ask where the restaurant is. The poor employees have to say over and over again: It closed nine years ago! There is also a hotel, The Pilgrim Inn just off the highway.

5. On campus there is also a little coffee shop that is only open during the school year. It is known as The Bean, or, The Crossroads, and is found where the college building attaches to the seminary wing.

6. If you’re around in the summer, there is a Farmer’s Market that takes place every Saturday from July 1st to Labour Day weekend, from 9am-Noon. You can get fresh garden produce, homemade jams, baked goods, and crafts.

7. This road reports website must be bookmarked by all Caronportians. It tells you the conditions of the highway, and whether they are safe to travel. It is colour-coded based on conditions, as well as it has a description of the conditions. We have learned that if it says ‘icy’ to stay off the road.

8. There is a garage in town called OK Tire. They also have emergency assistance towing. Keep that number handy for when you slide into the ditch on the highway.

9. There is a medical clinic in town, located on Birch Street, behind The Point.

10. If you have family that lives far away and wants to send you care packages, I have found that instead of sending packages through Canada Post, it is actually cheaper to ship them through Greyhound. The Greyhound comes through twice a day (from east and west) and because Greyhound runs on the weekends, packages tend to arrive quicker than when delivered by Canada Post. All Greyhound packages are delivered to the convenience store at The Point.

11. That said, there is also a post office in town. There is no home delivery of mail, instead everyone has a PO box at the post office, which is on Centre street.

12. One of the handiest ways to stay in the loop with what’s going on in Caronport is to sign up for the Community Email. This email list serve is fantastic for listing items for sale, asking to buy things, announcing community events, etc. You can find out about how to sign up for community email here.

13. What to do with your kids? The Caronport Rec Board offers several sports programs through the year including: skating (from pre-schoolers and up), hockey, and soccer (May-June). There is also Jireh Kids Choir for those kids who like to sing. There is an Awana program for school-aged kids (kindergarten and up) that runs through the school year, and in the summer there is usually a VBS. For wee little kids, there are two moms ‘n tots groups that meet weekly (Wednesday/Thursday). There is also a pre-school that meets two afternoons a week for 4 year olds (and now they are also accepting 3 year olds who are potty trained). And the newest edition to Caronport is the Spray Park which is open from Victoria Day to Labour Day Weekend. The elementary school also has a playground. And when it’s really, really cold, don’t be surprised if you see the “stroller brigade” walking the halls of Briercrest.

14. Brace yourself for the weather. It gets cold in the winter. Really cold. And the cold lasts for quite awhile. (For most people I’ve talked to, your first winter is the hardest winter, especially if you come from a more urban area). And the summers get really hot. We live in the basement of our house for about three weeks in July when it gets very hot. And this summer, we had a couple of cool storms, including hail and a few tornado warnings! Oh, and no matter what the weather, it is absolutely necessary that you bike to campus; even if it means wiping out on the icy roads.

15. Caronport has a cemetery. No I’m not referring to the seminary, though that is what the college students seem to think the seminary is. The real cemetery is on the east side of town and if you live on Spruce Street, the cemetery is your stunning prairie scenery!

For those of you who are from Caronport and read my blog, feel free to offer your own advice in the comments below! And for those of you who are new to Caronport, again, Welcome to Caronport!

Happy Canada Day

The best rendition of our national anthem EVER!