Saturday, October 06, 2007


I love Chicago. I was born there during my father's last year of seminary. My grandparents lived there from my childhood (Grandpa was a carpenter at North Park College). My uncle has been a physician at Swedish Covenant Hospital and delivered our first child there. I went to North Park College for all 4 years and went directly into seminary for another 4 years. Our son went to North Park University and now attends the seminary. I have served midwestern churches for 25 of my 27 years. Driving into Chicago for meetings was regular, easy and fun. It's a great city with enormous resources.
But is the Covenant stuck there? Ever since moving to California, I am aware of a sense of distance between here and there. The solution I hear offered is "fly back here more often." Is that the best way to do things expecially today? The Covenant has some of the best faculty at the University and Seminary of any institution in the world. Why are they not out here more often? Why is distance learning so hard for the Covenant and so easy fo Bethel and Fuller? Are we stuck?


At 8:50 PM , Blogger kent said...

How long does it take to change paradigms? May be the impact of those who lead is great than I anticipated, because if we elect leaders who have same orientation as those who are leaving, little will change. Are we stuck? Yes, will we remain there? I do not know. But I think yes for the foreseeable future.

At 1:57 PM , Blogger kent said...

I was thinking about this again, and one of the issues may have to do with the constituencies that are involved. Our missional methods have changed, moving toward project and short term missionaries as opposed to career missionaries. This move has met some resistance because it is not what was expected. Those who have traditionally supported missions have not made the switch easily. The resistence may be felt in other areas as well. Just a thought.

At 11:34 PM , Blogger Beth B said...

Hmmm. What exactly do you mean by distance learning, Donn?

Could it be that "distance learning" is harder for the Covenant than for Fuller or Bethel because we still seek to be a Covenant--in the old swedish sense of the word--that is, "forbundet?"

Can you have a "forbundet" without some physical center for locating relationships? Jews have Jerusalem, Catholics have Rome, Moslems have Mecca. As Protestants are we so spiritual that we consider ourselves "beyond" the need for place?

Or perhaps is it the case that we have grown (apart) so much, physically, intellectually and emotionally that "forbundet" is itself an antiquated notion, which needs to be given up for the greater good of the kingdom?

Can there be incarnation without location? Does a denomination need a physical center? If the answer is yes, then what are the conditions for best locating that center? If the answer is no, how then do we avoid an incipient gnosticism about relationships?

At 1:53 PM , Blogger donnjohnson said...

Beth; Great comment! Given that my sabbatical study and writings are on sacred space, the whole notion of physicality and incarnational reality is important to counter spiritualization and abstraction. I do agree that we need space to be together. We cannot have "forbundet" (sp?) simply on-line like this. But this type of exchange of ideas we are having now is better than isolation. My concern is the prioritizing of Chicago space over other "sacred spaces" around the country where we have growing and vital communities. I think we have sacrificed the wandering ark of the people for the fixed walls of the Jerusalem Temple. I'm certainly not anti-Chicago, but I am pro-portability and flexibilty, of which I see too little.


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