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Finding your own voice

These notes come from my professor's book, Artisanal Theology. It's required reading for my Integration class. We meet in small groups to discuss our contextual placement.

This semester we're writing a theological statement for ministry. Dr. Hess wrote this book to give us a resource to write this paper.

The lesson is to be about experiencing what we do not believe, only known in your bones by trying to believe it for awhile. This doesn't necessarily change your belief, but it will help you live alongside and within many more communities of God.

We learn from other people's wisdom and gifts too. Delve into the type of theology your own community suspects are "mistaken."

Ironically, those that disagree with us, have the most to teach us.

The task of theological education is to be a sponge. To soak in everything and all who will comfort and challenge our most treasured ideas. It will only get more ambiguous "out there." Better to get accustomed to as broad a view as possible while you are with peers and mentors who can provide an interpretive framework alongside compassionate companionship.

Deep listening require openness, patience, and even exploration of perspectives and practices.

My trust of God grows the more regularly I see obvious fruits of the Spirit in traditions and places that are not from my own.

Prepare to have your buttons pushed on at least one occasion as you deepen your spiritual practice. Learn more and more ways to respond gracefully and openly to this experience. Your spiritual demeanor, as expressed in your body language and in your integrated wisdom, will serve you well, if you have risked engagement in formation and you submit to the possibility that everyone has something to contribute to your own understandings.

I have found that if God does intend a certain paith, then doors open. If another path leads to greater receptivity of gifts and talents, then that is a better path.

True discernment is lived in a willingness to face up to the consequences of unexpected bumps in the road. If discernment originates in your own intent - however, explicit or implicit - to try to get the right answer, then the path will be fraught with insecurity, distress and frustration.

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