Oct 15 2013

Leaving Room for Rest

JessicaAs I sit here in Pitts Theology Library, trying not to freeze and frantically trying to get four articles read and a systematics paper written so I can get home with enough time to work out and eat dinner, I almost miss it. Out of the corner of my eye, I see something moving, so I look towards the back of the library. I see an older gentleman, probably in his 70s or 80s, who is engrossed in some dusty old book that I am sure thousands of students have overlooked. This sight, though perfectly ordinary, becomes beautiful to me. This older gentleman (we’ll call him Jack), looks completely content sitting in the library reading about theology. Jack doesn’t have to be here, but wants to be. As I broaden my gaze, I realize how lovely this dusty old library really is. It is a beautiful scene, and I almost missed it.

Life for me has been like that since the beginning of the semester. I have been consumed with busy-ness. People have told me that second year is the most difficult at Candler, and so far, they have been correct. Along with my five classes, I am spending eight hours a week interning with Emory Wesley Fellowship (the United Methodist campus ministry at Emory) and working fourteen hours a week in the Candler Admissions and Financial Aid office.  Each of these activities is wonderful, but takes up a lot of time. Add in studying and my days and nights seem much shorter. I have been rushing through one thing to get to the next thing.

All this is leading up to the fact that I needed rest. Rest is portrayed as such a lazy thing to do these days, isn’t it? Productivity is one of the most valued qualities in our American culture. Our Protestant work ethic is deeply engrained in our society. Just the other day, as one of my classes was ending, our professor announced that we really need to focus on the reading for the next class period, because it was extra-long and dense. As I sighed audibly and put my head on the table, one of my best friends asked me “Do you enjoy doing anything these days?” This question almost seemed to stab me in my heart. When was the last time I did something I enjoyed? I realized that I had been rushing through everything and not taking time to be in the moment, to take in what I was really doing. I realized that I forgot how lucky I was to be here at Candler. I am so lucky to be here among such a terrific and supportive community, studying theology under outstanding and well-known professors. This is a place that people yearn to be a part of, and those that do come here yearn to return. Jack in the library is a testament to this.

It was also in that moment that I realized I needed to rest. I needed to slow things down so I could hear the voice of God in the midst of my chaotic life. If you don’t take time for self-care, you begin to grow deaf to God’s voice and the voices of the people around you. It becomes all about you and how “productive” you can be. We need time and space to rejuvenate, to recharge, and to hear from God. In Psalm 46, God tells us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” By giving myself time to rest, I am better able to live in the moment and appreciate where I am and what I am doing. I can focus on what is going on in each of my classes and learn something new. I can take the time to listen to a student at Emory Wesley Fellowship and grow our relationship. I can really listen to prospective students’ concerns and help them figure out if Candler is where they are supposed to be. In short, instead of constantly thinking about what is next on my to-do list, I need to be present in the moment. Allowing time for rest helps me accomplish this.

Finding a balance between papers, work, class, internship, meetings and rest has still been hard, though. I have found that exercise, in a strange way, is a type of rest for me. I feel much more centered after a good run. Taking a few minutes during the day to sit in silence if I am feeling especially overwhelmed has also been helpful. I have realized that those times of so-called unproductivity can actually be productive. Most times, it is in nature that I find rest. Whether it is in a cornfield, on a volcano, at the beach, by the pool, in the woods, or on the top of Stone Mountain, I can seek refuge from the chaotic world and listen for the whispering voice of God. I can also reflect on how thankful I am to be here. Lynn Ungar wrote a beautiful poem about rest and refuge called Camas Lilies. A camas lily is a purple/bluish flower that blooms in the wild meadows of the western United States and Canada.

Consider the lilies of the field,
the blue banks of camas opening
into acres of sky along the road.
Would the longing to lie down
and be washed by that beauty
abate if you knew their usefulness,
how the natives ground their bulbs
for flour, how the settlers’ hogs
uprooted them, grunting in gleeful
oblivion as the flowers fell?

And you–what of your rushed and
useful life? Imagine setting it all down–
papers, plans, appointments, everything–
leaving only a note: “Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I’m through with blooming….”

Even now, unneeded and uneaten,
the camas lilies gaze out above the grass
from their tender blue eyes.
Even in sleep your life will shine.
Make no mistake. Of course
your work will always matter.
Yet Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.

May we take the time out in our crazy, busy, hectic, “productive” lives to go into the fields, to simply be lovely and bloom.

–Jessica Beverstein

Jessica is a second-year MDiv and student ambassador at Candler. She graduated from Winthrop University in South Carolina with a BS in elementary education. She served as a volunteer missionary in Costa Rica and taught second grade in Atlanta before coming to Candler.

Dec 31 2010

Partners in Education: Pitts Theology Library

Happy New Year’s from Candler School of Theology!  As you are making your New Year’s Resolutions, you might want to think about the many ways Pitts Theology Library can help make your 2011 successful.

How can a library impact your theological education?  Theological education engages with the past and present, with contemporary issues as well as the thought of the ages.  We at Pitts Theology Library would like to encourage you to consider the ways that a library serves your educational and vocational goals:

Pitts CirculationWhile in Pitts Theology Library, one of the largest theological libraries in North America, you can access over 560,000 items.  You also have access to the more than 3.4 million items held by all of the Emory University Libraries.  Hundreds of online databases and thousands of electronic resources are available to you on and off campus.

During the semesters, you can learn tips for effectively using these resources by attending 50-minute Wednesday Workshops during the lunch hour (and we provide lunch, too!) Topics include: using BibleWorks software; resources for exegetical research; locating and using images; and highlights from our special collections.

Contact a reference librarian by phone, email, chat, or stop by our desks to ask questions and get a jump start on your research projects.  Online Research Guides are always available when you are ready to embark on your research.

Durham Reading RoomTwo credit-bearing courses are designed to help you build useful skills: Technology for Ministry focuses on theological reflection and practical skills regarding the use of technologies in ministry, while Research Practices provides guided practice with the stages of research, allowing you to take an assigned project in another course or a topic of interest and apply the principles and practices considered in class.

As you consider Candler for your theological education, please think of the library staff as your partners in education—we delight in your learning, and want to help you engage with the rich resources here throughout your Candler education and beyond!  As a Candler graduate, you will have access to the Candler Alumni Portal, which includes the full-text article database ATLAS for Alumni as well as a selection of useful online resources.  Library staff also can help you determine the best options for obtaining theological materials wherever your post-Candler years may lead you.  Please let us know how we can help.

-Tracy N. Powell

Tracy is the Head of Public Services and Periodicals Librarian at Pitts Theology Library; she is always willing to help library visitors and regularly hosts workshops and teaches classes for Candler students.

Nov 1 2010

Cloud of Witnesses

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 11:1

I have been told that Halloween is every Candler student’s favorite pagan holiday. Now, there are a few comments that could be made about this. (For instance, only at Candler do people tend to distinguish between pagan and religious holidays). But that conversation will have to be another blog post, because in all honesty, I’ve never cared much for Halloween. I mean, I appreciate it, but mostly, it is has served only to signify that Christmas is less than two months away. (Though I did just learn that if you go to Chipotle dressed like a burrito, they give you a free burrito.)

But Halloween falls on a Sunday this year, which means many churches will simultaneously be celebrating All Saints Day. This holiday, which is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic tradition, serves as a day to remember those saints who have gone before us in this Christian journey, to remember those Christians who have served as an example and a guide to us in our own struggles. In the Catholic tradition, this function mainly to celebrate the literal saints, but in Protestant circles, it has been broadened to include all believers.

Pitts Theology LibraryNow, this is a holiday I can get on board with, even if doesn’t get me a free burrito. The esteemed Dr. Ellison teaches in his pastoral care classes that every person has a community of saints who helped get them where they are today. People who prayed and worked and dreamed so that we can be where we are right now.

They are our very own cloud of witnesses, and we should remember them.

It’s easy to overlook them, I think, especially in a society where independence is so valued and the mindset is that if you want something you have to get it yourself.  Christianity tells us otherwise. We are not supposed to do it on our own, and in fact, we can’t. Some of our community we know. It’s our parents and our grandparents, our mentors and our pastors, but some of them we don’t. For instance, the mere fact that I’m at a seminary right now means that women who I won’t ever know worked to earn me that right.

I often study in the Pitts Theological Library, which at one time served as the entire theology school. The main area is where the old chapel used to be, and when I study in there, I can’t help but be drawn into the community there that’s greater than myself and the class of 2013. It is a holy place. People have been praying, worshipping and studying here for a long time. The questions that I am wrestling through have been wrestled through many times there. But they persevered.  And their perseverance gives me hope, and thus I can run the race set out before me.

How did you remember your saints, both known and unknown, this year?

-Jennifer Wyant

Jennifer is a 1st year MDiv student from Atlanta, GA and a Student Ambassador

Mar 27 2008

Candler on Second Life

Just when I finally feel like I’m getting used to the life of the Candler School of Theology Admissions Office, I have entered into a whole new world through Second Life. The Candler admissions office has opened an office on Second Life, which is a virtually 3-dimensional chat world in which we can interact with people from across the world. It’s immersive, impressive, interactive, and just plan cool! Second Life, like other social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, are helping us connect and reconnect with people in ways we never could have imagined. Furthermore, through Second Life, people are able to interact in the moment with an Avatar profile that one has created to be a representation of one’s self. Creativity is key in Second Life, and it is opening up a whole new life of possibilities for us at Candler.

Kimberly Knight, a currentMaster of Divinity student at Candler, has started a church community, called Koinonia Congregational Church, which worships and gathers together on Second Life several times a week. On the church’s website, Kimberly shares, “Koinonia Congregation is an actual congregation meeting in an online space — a virtual reality world known as ‘Second Life.’ Koinonia uses the cutting-edge technology of Second Life to create a safe environment where people can learn about the Christian faith and experience a loving Christian community.” Through her ministry on Second Life with the Koinonia Community, Kimberly has helped envision, build, create, furnish, and maintain our newly opened Candler Admissions Office in Second Life.

For many of you, this must sound impressively cutting edge, but to be honest, there are plenty of other higher education institutes who have been on Second Life much longer. Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford all have virtual campuses on Second Life, and unlike Candler, yet, they host real classes on Second Life. Imagine undergraduate students at Harvard logging into freshman English class on Second Life, as they sit in their dorm room in their pajamas sipping coffee. This is happening on university campuses world wide, and it is so exciting that Candler is joining in!

Just as we host prospective students and campus visitors at our Admissions Office at Emory University in Atlanta, we will also host them at our office in Second Life. Our space on Second Life has rooms dedicated to learning about Pitts Theology Library; Candler’s faculty, degree programs, and curriculum; student and community life, and worship at Candler. We certainly believe that much of the seminary experience is about being in community with one another, therefore we will encourage visitors to our Second Life office to make a campus visit as well. It is our hope that Second Life will be another form of sharing Candler with people who are discerning a call in their lives and are exploring going to seminary.

If you are discerning a call to seminary and thinking about doing ministry, outreach, social justice work, and faith sharing, we hope that you will consider Candler as a next step on your journey. Please visit our office on Second Life or schedule a visit here in Atlanta. For more information about Candler School of Theology, visit our website at www.candler.emory.edu, or email the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at candleradmissions@emory.edu. In addition, you can call us at 404.727.6326, or learn more about the admissions process at Candler by clicking here. Look for my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology) and the Candler School of Theology Group at www.facebook.com. We recently started a group on MySpace too, so hopefully we’ll connect with you soon online or in person.

Nov 9 2007

Registration: Anticipation and Jubilation

Sweaty palms. Lying awake late at night with anxiety. Setting the alarm extra early to not miss the appointment. With the level of excitability and unrest around Candler School of Theology this week, you’d think it was the first day of starting a new job or the day of the GRE or final exams. Students and even the Registrar’s Office tend become a little more hyped up on caffeine and adrenaline during Course Registration. Today marks the end of a week of registration for the 2008 spring semester at Candler School of Theology and a month of conversations around campus about what classes and professors to enroll in next semester. I may be exaggerating ever so slightly about the nervousness of the students during the registration process, but with so many creative and intellectually stimulating classes being offered in the spring, I can understand why it would be hard to narrow it down to a manageable schedule.

There are a variety of new classes that are being offered in the spring from each of our four areas of study: Biblical Studies, History and Interpretation of Christianity, Christianity and Culture, and Introductory Arts of Ministry. In Biblical Studies, Professor John Weaver, the Head of Public Services at Pitts Theology Library at Candler, will teach a new class called “Missions in the New Testament,” which will study the literary and social history of missions in the New Testament and the practices explicitly involving the New Testament in the global history of Christian missions up to the present. A primary goal of the course is to cultivate informed and discerning use of the Bible in contemporary missions. In addition to this new class, Registrar Trudy Blackmon is finding that Professor Carol Newsom’s class “The Wisdom Literature” is a popular one this registration season and will likely fill up. Dr. Newsom’s current research focuses on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Wisdom tradition, and apocalyptic literature. She is author of The Book of Job: A Contest of Moral Imaginations and she is the co-editor of the Women’s Bible Commentary.

History and Interpretation of Christianity also has a couple of very popular classes next semester. Professor Joy McDougall will teach “The Trinity, The Human Person, and the Christian Life.” This is an advanced seminar on classical and contemporary approaches to the doctrine of the Trinity and its implications for theological anthropology and the shape of the life of faith. Particular attention will be paid to contemporary proposals relating the doctrine to social and ethical issues that are challenging churches today.

Another highly popular class with a waiting list and full enrollment is Professor Ian McFarland’s class on “Sex, Sin, and Salvation: The Christian Doctrine of the Human Person.” This course examines some key themes in the topic of theological anthropology, with special emphasis on the diversity of ways in which Christians through the centuries have answered the question, “What does it mean to be human?” The material surveyed will pay particular attention to issues of gender identity, human sexuality, and original sin, since these topics have proven particularly important for the development of Christian reflection on human beings in the Western Christian churches; but attention is also given to the ways in which questions of race, ethnic identity, disability, and class have affected Christian understandings of personhood. I’m sure you can see why these classes are so wildly popular!

The area of study entitled Christianity and Culture is launching the largest amount of new classes this spring, including, “Spirituality and Liberative Pedagogy: U.S. Third World Feminists and Womanists Religious Practices of Healing,” with Professor Renee Harrison; “ Understanding Religion and Health in the Context of HIV,” with Professor John Blevins, which is also offered as a Pastoral Care class, and “Rastafari Religion,” with Professor Noel Erskine. Not only are these newly designed classes being offered, there are also several others in this area of study which have got students lining up for spots in the class. Both classes being offered by Professor Thomas Thangaraj are “sell outs” because this is his last year of teaching at Candler before retiring to his home in India; he has been a beloved professor here for many generations of students. He will teach “Images of Christ in World Christianity,” as well as “The Church’s Mission in a Pluralistic World.” Professor Liz Bounds is offering a one-credit class on “Skills in Conflict Transformation” that I have heard numerous students mentioning on their list of desired classes. Though some of these classes may be full before first year students are able to register, there are so many options that I believe each schedule will have depth and diversity of study.

We also have new classes in our Introductory Arts of Ministry area. Dr. Russell Richey, Professor of Church History and former Dean of Candler, will teach a new class called, “Evangelism and the Camp Meeting Movements in North America;” Professor Jimmie Abbington is teaching “Global Perspectives in Christian Worship;” and Professor Carol Lakey Hess will teach a new class on “Religious Education Through Fiction.” Dr. Hess’s class incorporates classic novels, including F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, as well as many other favorites.

What makes a class popular? Which classes get you most excited about theological education? If you were going to design a class, what would be its title and area of focus? Trudy Blackmon, Candler Registrar shares, “In the balance to meet the needs of two concurrent MDiv curriculums, it was exciting to see Candler produce a number of new courses for the upcoming semester that students have shown great interest in.” This is an exciting time to be in study, class, and reflection at Candler School of Theology.

If these classes sound appealing to you, we would love for you to make a campus visit to Candler to sit in on a class, attend chapel, and meet current students. You can register to visit campus by clicking here or email the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at candleradmissions@emory.edu. You can call us at 404.727.6326, or learn more about Candler on our website www.candler.emory.edu. Look for my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology) and the Candler School of Theology Group at www.facebook.com.

Lane Cotton Winn
Candler School of Theology
Office of Admissions and Financial Aid Intern