What's Tony Thinking

Beautiful Spring and an Eastertide Study


“Nothing is so beautiful as spring,” wrote Gerard Manley Hopkins.

It’s true, isn’t it? After grey and chill, the spring signs — crocus and daffodil, green buds on the 0so and willow, thrush and wren in migration northward, herons on their nests doing their high wire ballet act of breeding. Even the moss and lichens push forth green, as in this photo.

“What,” continues Hopkins, “is all this juice and all this joy? A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning in Eden Garden.”

As spring’s first day dawns here, it is, alas, grey and wet. Fog in the hills. Mist in the morning. But we had little burst of spring and sun last week. Enough that we joined the throng’s at Swanson’s Nursery, to buy some flowering plants and new planters to put them in. Our balcony deck transformed from wintery neglect to a little eden.

Still, however, getting in some late season skiing. Yesterday with the grandsons, Colin and Levi. Tomorrow I head south and east of the Cascades to White Pass Ski area. Perhaps the last skiing of the season? We’ll see. Fresh snow in the mountains today.

At right you will notice the info for the upcoming Crackers and Grape Juice webinar on my book, What’s Theology Got To Do With It? Convictions, Vitality and the Church. This webinar begins April 24 and continues for six weeks, which is roughly the season of Eastertide, Easter being not a day but a season.

Published in 2007, it is not a new book, but it continues to be read and found useful. When published it was selected by The Academy of Parish Clergy as one of its “Books of the Year.”

The basic idea is that there is a relationship between sound teaching or doctrine and a church’s health and vitality. In the New Testament the word that in English translation becomes “sound,” as in “sound teaching,” is the Greek hygienio, which is clearly related to our word “hygiene.” So the connection between sound teaching and congregational health is not a new idea.

But it is, in the present time, a neglected idea. While churches chase after the next shiny thing, clarity about core truths is what, i.m.h.o., is more needed. In other words, I think it less important that we are keeping up with the culture and its current inflections, and more important that we, that is, the church, has something to say that is both truthful and compelling.

In this book I take the menu of subjects that make up Christian theology, from revelation to eschatology, as my guide. Of each I ask, “in plain English, what does this really mean?” And, “What implications does it have for life, health and function, of a congregation that is vital and faithful?

Let me stress, the “plain English” bit. I have little patience with efforts to impress by being so abstract or erudite that no one really knows what the heck you are saying. Every field and group does have its jargon. Theology is no exception. But I try to avoid the jargon and keep it accessible. Which is to say that this is a book for ordinary people.

Would I change some of it were I writing today? I think so. I hope so, insofar as that might mean my own thought and Christian practice has continued to develop and deepen.

I invite you to register for this Webinar, click on the registration button at right. It’s free. Monday evenings at 4:00 PDT, 7:00 EDT. If you can’t make a session, you’ll still get the recording (if you’ve registered) and can listen when it’s convenient. And as CGJ webinar devotees know, every week you’ll also get a heartfelt tune from the artful Josh Munikuysen at the beginning of each session.







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