With astounding astuteness, a professor once critiqued the Roman Catholic hierarchy as frequently and fatally mantling the attitude that it is above both criticism and self-criticism. In my previous post regarding my grad school, Christian Theological Seminary, I proposed the possibility that the school’s board of trustees, along with its president, Matthew Myer Boulton, were, in some ways, perhaps modeling that aspect of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. It seems I have erred in the usage of that perhaps. https://alfredeaker.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/matthew-myer-boulton-sounding-the-death-knoll-for-indianas-progressive-seminary-christian-theological-seminary-2/
CTS banner slogan has long been Forming Tomorrow’s Leaders In Faith. I believe CTS may need to hit the refresh button in order to view and review the not-so-improved Forming Prodigals In The Name Of Faith. The late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen proved himself a rarity of shrewd, reflective self-criticism in the Catholic hierarchy when he proposed: “often, we have prodigals due to our own negligence. We have pushed them out the door with our carelessness, recklessness, thoughtlessness, and abuses.”
Paradoxically, CTS, its trustees, Boulton, et al. are proving themselves the worst kind of parents imaginable. The fault is not entirely theirs, however. We prodigals err as well in having continued to look to them as trustworthy parents and make no mistake, we are the children of CTS.
Over the weekend, a fellow alumni let me know they had been booted out of and blocked from CTS’ Facebook group for alumni. Yes, I was too, which I half expected after my blog post ( I will add that I was barely tactful enough not to post on their group page). Still, for me, I rather identify a tad too readily with Groucho Marx’ statement: “I am leery of any club that would have me for a member, anyway.” Besides, it is merely Facebook. However, after dialoguing with said alumni, I did see another point; the latent (or not so latent) message delivered by the current CTS admin,”You are no longer ours.” I do not know what that alumni said to them, or said about them (I know what I said, of course), but he/she believed it an attempt, on their part, at status quo taming. Astute observations on the alumni’s part? Additionally, I should add that said alumni was prone to critique and challenge while expressing his/her love for and belief in CTS. Of course, this does not matter. The school only wants docile children, shorn of edge. Continue reading CHRISTIAN THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: FORMING PRODIGALS IN THE NAME OF FAITH
I graduated from Christian Theological Seminary with a Masters degree in Theological Studies. It is the progressive, ecumenical seminary in Indiana, or, rather, it was. As I was graduating, a new president was coming in. His name is Matthew Myer Boulton. I was informed that he had an evangelical background, had married, and converted to Disciples of Christ via his wife. As expected when there is a change in new leadership, I heard a few nervous grumblings. However, as I was too preoccupied with finishing my final semester, I rather pooh poohed the grumblings, which turned out to be a grave error.
This is not to say, I did not have initial misgivings. Quite the contrary, I had enormous trepidation, particularly on the day of our commencement. Boulton had invited a guest speaker to deliver one of the most pronounced, jaw-dropping reprehensible screeds I have ever had the misfortune to be inundated with.
The speaker, Rev. David Hampton, who was reportedly getting his honorary PhD for monies contributed to CTS, took the platform and essentially delivered a tent revival diatribe,which had the chutzpah to mix New Age claptrap phraseologies with dyed in the wool, sawdust on the floor, ho-de-ho backwoods melodramatics. The speaker, from the kitsch named organization: Light Of The World, made every effort to promote himself and his organization as the group most responsible for having notified the world at large of the hate crime brewing in Florida under the guise of George Zimmerman. Additionally, we were told that it was Light of the World, which had single handedly reversed public apathy regarding the tragic case and had stirred up support for Treyvon Martin’s family. Like Mighty Mouse, Light of the World had come to save the day. I half expected every sentence to end with a shrewdly timed Aa-ya aa-ya. I have to give credit where credit is due. Hampton knew how to work the herd.
Unfortunately, he followed this up with an even more divisive and ill-timed screed on gay marriage, which ended with an erroneous comparison of that to looming mortal sins. The worked over crowd was equally divided between cowardly amens and pent rage.
Fr. Justin Belitz O.F.M.. The above are images from his retreat at the Infant Jesus Parish in Morley Western Australia, April 2010. In March, 2011 Fr. Justin returned to the parish for a follow up retreat.
Fr. Justin’s retreat centers around the teaching of his latest book, Success:Full Relating. This is Fr. Justin’s third book in the success series. It is a guide to successful life goals and relationships. Success:Full Relating is also the most theological of his books, outlining the matriarchal/creation model of spirituality and the patriarchal/ fall/redemption model. Fr. Justin’s approach is lucid, optimistic, and inspiring.
Fr. Justin will be celebrating his 50th jubilee as a Franciscan priest this summer. He promotes interfaith expression, practical theology and renewal in the model of Augustine of the Retractions, John XXIII, The Little Flower, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fr. Justin is a licensed teacher of the Silva Method but here he gives us the Justin Method. Justin’s method incorporates Franciscan spirituality, the Silva Method and a lifetime of experience into a celebration of life, love, art, and spirit.
From 1999 to 2000, I painted a mural, in oils, for St. Vincent De Paul client food choice pantry in Indianapolis, having been commissioned by Carolyn Reifel, who was the director of that facility. It took nearly a year. The mural was a donation btw, and we followed that with an art auction. Numerous local and national artists donated their work(s) to the auction in an effort to raise funds for the pantry. The mural spanned several walls, on dry wall. I began the mural with images of two priests who were and are still considerable influences in my life; Fr. Justin Belitz O.F.M and Fr. Hilary Ottensmeyer O.S.B.
Fr. Hilary, who had introduced me to Fr. Justin, passed away a mere two weeks after completion of the mural in 2000. I was blessed by his being able to see the completed mural before he passed this temporary coil.
The above are some images and a Nuvo article I came across. One note about the article: It seems to indicate that the auction was not well attended. While we did not have the turn out we had hoped for, over the course of the evening it was indeed fairly well attended and we raised enough money to feed one hundred families for a year.
Tapping back into my thinking from twelve years ago, I entitled the mural “Modern Spirituality” from the mindset of a post Vatican II Catholicism and an ecumenical, inter-faith spirit.
Fr. Justin Belitz and Fr. Hilary Ottensemeyer are representative of that post Vatican II Spirituality. Their images graced several walls of the mural, as did images of Mother Teresa, Pope John XXIII, Our Lady, Gauatama Buddha, and scenes from a charismatic, protestant church service.
Now, twelve years later, I am attaining my Masters of Theological Studies at Christian Theological Seminary.