We made it back into town a little more than a week ago and it’s nice to be back home and getting back into routine. Growing up I never thought of myself as someone who really liked routine, but the times have undoubtedly changed. I like having a normal bedtime and getting-up time, which is currently around 6:30 am. As I’m thinking about this next year and all the work I need to try and finish up, I’m feeling the urge to be more regimented in how my day is structured. While I haven’t historically been a morning person, I’ve become one since being married. Emily is a morning person, and with her being a school teacher who has to get up at the crack-of-dawn in order to get out the door I’ve become much more of a morning person myself. Now I feel like I’m wasting the day if I sleep past 7:30, and consider the morning to be my most productive time. Though I don’t want to give you the wrong idea, I’m just talking about the workday, not the weekends that’s a whole other story…
As much fun as I had in England, it’s nice to be back with Emily and L, who is now seven months old. She’s growing very steadily, she’s very healthy, happy, and learning all kinds of new and awesome tricks. My favorite two things she’s been doing lately are clapping and making funny sounds using her hand in her mouth. It’s such a wonderful gift to have her around and watch her grow. I’m awed at how new everything is for her, and how exploratory she is, it definitely adds a level of appreciation back into life.
This past Monday, I started a class with Wilbert Shenk, Mennonite Missiologist, at Fuller. Wilbert is now retired but does some guest teaching still. The class I’m in is called “Anabaptist Perspectives on Mission Theology” and not only is it great to be doing another class with Wilbert, but I think half the class is made up of friends from our Mennonite church. Wilbert agreed to work with me on the Quaker component to this and turn it into a doctoral tutorial, which means I’m essentially working on #4 out of my 6 seminars. We’re covering tons of stuff, mission history, how concepts such as the Missio Dei began and have changed through time, various paradigms of mission, and of course what unique contributions to missiology does Anabaptism bring (and along those same lines, I’ll be comparing the developments within Quakerism as well).
The class is spending a good amount of time discussing the interplay between mission and tradition. Often enough, it’s easy to side with either the ‘mission’ mentality or the ‘traditionalism’ mentality. That is to say, on the one hand you have those groups who are interested in going into different, untouched parts of the world (or our backyards) and starting something new, something fresh at the expense of denominational difference, and established practices and language. There’s a very popular notion of Christians desiring a “religionless religion,” that I think coincides with this mentality. On the other, there is a sense in which the ‘traditionalism’ mentality keeps us from ever changing, ever entering into new contexts, or being reflective of the kind of “people movement” Jesus inaugurated. In this mindset faithfulness is equivalent to remaining unchanged at whatever cost. What I like about the class is we’re looking for ways in which mission and tradition stay together, or at least can stay together. There’s a lot to be said for different missions approaches and how our traditions inform them, and I feel like I’m just scratching the suffice.