Theology of Real Life

The lecture (#4) by Margaret Kim Peterson available as an MP3 on this page is Very Important Theology.

(Don't be misled by the series title: although it is part of a series on parental authority, this lecture is not about parental authority per se, it is about housekeeping, and tangentially about the relationship between keeping house and rearing children. It represents some of the material in this forthcoming book.)

At least, it's very important to me. It challenges things I take for granted, and tells me things I very much need to hear.

If you download the audio, don't turn it off at the end of the lecture proper. The Q&A period afterward is especially rich. This is one of the great things about doing theology on a topic to which that everyone in your audience can relate -- audience involvement is easy and substantive.

This lecture and discussion beautifully exemplify the whole reason I do theology. A reader of GetReligion pointed out an appalling sentence in The San Deigo Union-Tribune about a church wondering "where theology ends and reality begins." If theology and reality, as this quote implies, are two different and mutually exclusive spheres, to hell with theology.

Quite the contrary, the very crux of the story in which the line appears is that theology and the very real human impulse to protect oneself and one's children were making competing demands on the members of a particular church. Theology was very much impinging on the "reality" of this congregation, in uncomfortable ways. If theology and reality begin and end at a nice neat divide, there is no story.

But I am convinced that theology has everything to do with reality, and especially with messy reality -- the reality of the repetitive and ill-regarded tasks that are foundational to the ongoing care of ourselves and others, the reality of the call to welcome the stranger, even when the particular stranger legitimately scares us. This is the theology that is the task of the church, and a service to the church as we articulate it not just in classrooms and at conferences, but in congregations, in the midst of life.

Which reminds me: if you have a way of getting to New Haven in the middle of May, I highly recommend this conference. I am proud to have had a hand in getting the program that is sponsoring this conference off the ground, and look forward to learn from what the participants have learned during the intervening years.


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