Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Princeton Address...

A friend of mine recently directed my attention to Ian Torrance's address to the graduating class of Princeton Seminary this past Spring. I have to admit, I found it enormously difficult to follow Torrance's address to us at our own graduation last year. I'm also not exactly a fan of his, "preaching" - however, upon reading this, I have to say that had I been there, and been able to follow along with a manuscript, I probably would've stood and applauded.

He seems to be overflowing with thoughts & ideas that at the beginning and end, he finds difficult to synthesize into something coherent for listeners. But he says two things I want to highlight.

1) First, he comes from the same perspective (resident alien) that I do, not a citizen, can't vote in the US and criticizes Nativism, particularly during this political season, the sentiment among Americans that says "we care about ourselves and not really anyone else" - he's making the connection between iPod wearing youth, transfixed on their own music and Americans, disengaging from the Public Space of the rest of the world to cloak themselves in the Nativism of their own self interest.

2) Second, He continues to say that the concept put forth by Stanley Hauerwas of a Christian as a "resident alien" is too tame. Not that it needs to be scrubbed entirely and Hauerwas is an idiot (I think Torrance is actually a huge fan of Stanley). But he believes that since we are actually sent out among wolves, we need to be, as such, wild - with a rabid hunger for Christ in the midst of a culture that is not exactly for Christ. He's saying we can't simply be "company men" - domesticated professional ministers. I think that's actually more in line with what Huaerwas says in the book anyway.

When you get down to it, he's saying, using a ton of different imagery, that as graduates (and ministers) we cannot afford to stick our heads in the sand, be only about us, our congregations, our denominations, our "guild" or our nation. If we are to be truly the people of God, we must engage people - out there (in the public space) with the gospel. In this regard, I couldn't agree more. And so, here's a quiet tip of my cap to you, Mr. President...

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