April 11, 2022
Dr. Christopher Bellitto, Professor of History, Kean University, author of 101 Questions and Answers about Popes and the Papacy suggests that the resignation of Pope Benedict and the election of Pope Francis had few if any precedents to follow. It will encourage future popes to do the same because of age or infirmity, but we’ve learned that some mistakes must be addressed to avoid uncertainty over who is true pope: dress and insignia, name and forms of address, publishing or being interviewed on controversial topics.
Dr. Bellitto is the author of ten books, including most recently Ageless Wisdom: Lifetime Lessons from the Bible (Paulist Press, 2016), along with 101 Questions and Answers on Popes and the Papacy (Paulist Press, 2008), and the companion volumes, The General Councils: A History of the 21 Church Councils from Nicaea to Vatican II and Renewing Christianity: A History of Church Reform from Day One to Vatican II (Paulist Press 2001-2002).
March 14, 2022
The Seminary Explores catches up with The Rev. Eric Shafer, Senior Pastor of Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Santa Monica, California before his upcoming retirement. He’s worn many hats in the past decades, including those of parish pastor, communications and fundraising executive leader, mentor, and partner in interfaith initiatives.
An ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, he is graduate of Muhlenberg College and Hamma School of Theology (now part of Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capitol University). Rev. Shafer was recognized with a 2021 Partnership Award from The Westside Coalition for Housing, Hunger and Health in Santa Monica. He serves on the President’s Council of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), is a member of the Santa Monica Bay Area Human Relations Council and is a founder and board member of Students 4 Students Homeless Shelters.
January 17, 2022
On the anniversary of the January 6, 2021 insurrection, Rev. Dr. Norma Cook Everist, Distinguished Professor of Church and Ministry, emerita, Wartburg Theological Seminary, discussed the meaning of being political, the separation of church and state or the separation of religion and government. She uncovered the meaning of Christian Nationalism and the importance of Christian education in combatting this and similar ideologies. With all the divisions within the United States, Everist suggests building a trustworthy environment so that we can be different together. She concludes with the vocation of the church in these challenging times in our nation and the world.
October 11, 2021
Dr. Grafton, Academic Dean and Professor of Christian and Islamic Studies, Hartford Seminary, discusses his newest book which he edited, More Than a Cup of Coffee and Tea which was published this year. The book explores some of the important documents and themes that have emerged over the years in the area of Christian-Muslim relations. The book is accessible to both church leaders and laypersons. The global perspective of the book highlights programs and experiences around the world where Lutherans and other Christians encounter and build on the experiences of their Muslim neighbors. In his reflections on seminaries and Muslim issues, Grafton was enthusiastic about the number of seminaries who are including Islamic studies in their courses of studies. He feels that such additions to the curriculum help rostered church leaders to educate congregational members against Islamophobia.
June 7, 2021
Poetry, Theology, and Art from North Wales via a Special R.S. Thomas Festival
Susan Fogarty, director of the R.S. Thomas & M.E. Eldridge Festival in Aberdaron, shares highlights of the upcoming Festival with The Seminary Explores. Both the poet-priest and the artist were prolific, wise, talented and steeped in rural realities. First held in 2014, the Festival has featured distinguished speakers including Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. The 2021 Festival will be held live online in association with Church Times on June 19.
View a virtual exhibit of the "Dance of Life" mural. Also see the Millennium Center text in Welsh and English from Gwyneth Lewis.
May 10, 2021
Susan Tarr, retired librarian from the Library of Congress and active layperson discusses her activities in the church during Covid-19. The pandemic prompted a number of changes in providing Christian education for members at The Church of the Covenant (Presbyterian) in Arlington, VA. As an active layperson in the congregation, she described her interest in Christian education. With the development of the Covid-19 she was challenged to expand her familiarity with technology. She talked about involvement with two classes within the congregation: the adult Bible class and the confirmation class with youth. Her particular concern was for the youth. After her retirement from the Library of Congress where she was the Executive Director of the Federal Library and Information Center Committee for the last 10 years of a 30 year career in the system, she completed a Theological Studies degree at Wesley Seminary in D.C. In the program she discussed how that educational experience prepared her for the challenges of teaching during this pandemic.
March 29, 2021
Lent 2021 also marks a full year of COVID-19 in this country. The Seminary Explores speaks with author Rev. Andrew Taylor-Troutman, pastor of Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina about his forthcoming book, what it was like to be a “Poll Chaplain” and writing for your audience. Taylor-Troutman holds an M.Div. from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia and an M.A.R. from the University of Virginia. His articles, essays and poems have appeared in Sojourners, Mockingbird, Ruminate, Bearings Online, The Chatham News Record and elsewhere. His books include Take My Hand: A Theological Memoir, Gently Between the Words: Stories and Poems, Earning Innocence and Parables of Parenthood: Interpreting the Gospels with Family.
March 15, 2021
Dr. Kirsi Stjerna, First Lutheran Los Angeles/Southwest California Synod Professor of Lutheran History and Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, discusses her newest book, Lutheran Theology: A Grammar of Faith. A book that emerged out of her years of teaching at the seminary level and the questions that students asked in the classroom. While the text is written for seminarians, it is designed for study in the local congregation as well. She expresses the believe that theology is about life and ultimate concerns. The key motif of the text is “Freedom.” Luther in his life demonstrated freedom for himself and others under the gospel. The extensive resources for further reading in each chapter will certainly benefit seminary students and congregational members.
March 1, 2021
Dr. Quintin Robertson, Instructor & Director of the Urban Theological Institute & Black Church Studies Program at United Lutheran Seminary, reflects on the 40th Anniversary of the Urban Theological Institute at United Lutheran Seminary. He shares a historical overview of the Institute focusing in on the unique features of the program. Robertson also describes the changes that have taken place in the Institute including increased endowment, online courses, and the Black Church concentration.
November 2, 2020
Mark S. Burrows joins The Seminary Explores to talk about his recent teaching on wonder and its significance in a pandemic – with some Mary Oliver and Rachel Carson in the mix. Burrows has taught at graduate theological schools in the U.S. and Europe, most recently The Protestant University of Applied Sciences in Bochum, Germany. His Ph.D. and M.Div. are from Princeton Theological Seminary. An historian of medieval Christianity, his research and writing have focused on those creative minds among the mystics, visionaries, and poets who often found themselves living and working at the margins of Christianity.