Archive for category Say Something Nice

How a Seminary Professor Became “My Doktormutter” By Mark Medley *

Editor’s note: This article was written prior to Molly T. Marshall’s resignation announcement. Its publication was delayed, along with the “Brother Molly” podcast about Marshall’s life and ministry, due to the announcement. The author has given EthicsDaily.com permission to publish the article in its original format. “Brother Molly” is scheduled for release on May 12.

In the fall 1988 semester at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I took Molly T. Marshall’s *Systematic Theology 1 course.

Prior to enrolling in her class, I was well aware of Dr. Marshall’s reputation as a popular, brilliant and dynamic theology professor. That course, and Dr. Marshall, altered the trajectory of my ministerial vocation.

A love of theology ignited (and continues to burn). A doorway was opened to explore the possibility of serving the church as a teaching theologian.

And my hanging around after class, or stopping by her faculty office, to ask questions were the beginning of a relationship that led to Dr. Marshall becoming my “Doktormutter.”

That relationship bloomed into friendship as a fellow scholar and theologian, a trusted mentor and counselor, and a sister in Christ.

If you have ever heard Molly preach or lecture, you quickly know that she uses “big words.” She does so not to impress. Rather, those “big words” invite the listener to journey deeper into faith.

Those “big words,” for me, were her invitation into the great cathedral of theology.

Let me tell you some of what I learned (and continue to learn) from Molly in the beautiful, transcendent space of this cathedral.

First, theology is attending to God.

In the classroom or in a rocking chair in Molly’s faculty office, I quickly discerned that theology is a sharing in the mystery of God’s triune life.

Theology happens as the Holy Spirit works within us the mystery of God’s word made flesh as we bear before divinity our joy, gratitude, lament and protest.

As a human practice, theology arises as we, in community with other disciples, seek the meaning of life, especially the suffering of life, against the divine landscape of God’s creative and redemptive purposes.

Second, I learned that Christian theology and faith are eucharistic.

Molly once said in a lecture that Baptists suffer from eucharistic famine. I have been wrestling with that piercing insight my entire academic career.

Not only have I considered the effects of such malnourishment, but I have also imagined the meaning of eucharistic abundance.

I learned from Molly that God is a eucharistic God: God is thanksgiving; God is self-giving; God is known in taking, blessing, breaking and sharing Jesus’ food; God is abundance; God is communion.

Stanley Hauerwas is right when he says, “Gratitude turns out to be not only a central virtue but a strong claim, indeed even a metaphysical claim, about the way things are.”

So, secondly, I learned to rethink everything from the reality of the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation.

Third, I learned that theology is doxology.

With regularity, Molly began class with song. Good theology should and must be sung she always reminded her students. In this way, she taught that worship shapes theology and theology shapes worship.

As we pray and proclaim, sing and be silent, confess and profess, eat at Jesus’ table and baptize in the Triune name, we are immersed in the language of faith. Filled, soaked and saturated with the story of God, we press and write theology upon our hearts, minds, imaginations and bodies.

Fourth, I learned to discern who is absent from the prominent places in a cathedral.

Molly modeled and taught me that women’s exclusion from the ambo, the pulpit and the communion table diminishes and demeans the gospel’s radical vision of belonging envisioned by the Christ and conjured by the wild, liberating Spirit of God.

Such gender exclusion in ecclesial leadership personally and spiritually injures women, as well as, wounds the body of Christ.

In Molly’s Feminist Theology course, I truly began to learn how to be an ally with women in the advocacy for women’s leadership in the church.

The church rightfully images the triune God when women are readers of Scripture, proclaimers of the good news, officiants offering Jesus’ food to the people of God gathered at his table of hospitality, and senior ministers prophetically and pastorally leading the people of God.

Lastly, I learned how to be a teaching theologian.

In her faculty office in Norton Hall, Molly had two rocking chairs.

As a student, if you arrived at her office and Molly really wanted to have conversation, you took a seat in the rocking chair in front of her desk. Coming around her desk, she sat in the other rocking chair.

In that holy space, Molly would question, probe and push your theological reflection; she would challenge your suppositions; she would ask you to clarify your thought. Other times, she may guide a reflective conversation on vocational discernment.

In those moments, Molly exercised, in maximal ways, her gifts as professor, teacher, pastor and counselor.

In those rocking chairs in her office, Molly modeled a professor concerned with the intellectual, spiritual, personal and vocational flourishing of students.

My students at Baptist Seminary of Kentucky would say that I too like “big words.” I take that as a co
How a Seminary Professor Became

*Mark Medley is professor of theology at Baptist Seminary of Kentucky in Georgetown and Louisville. He teaches courses in theology, ethics, Baptist heritage, and Christianity and culture. He is theologian-in-residence at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Lexington, Kentucky. Mark and his wife, Maria, live in Georgetown, Kentucky, and have one son.

*Dr. Molly Marshall is a friend of mine. She was a favorite of those attending The Hamrick Lectures at First Baptist Church of Charleston. Mitch

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The Common Good

The character of the American public has been on display for the world to see during this pandemic. Most Americans have taken seriously the warnings from heath experts and stayed home. They have observed social distancing, and worn masks when visiting public places.

There is no coercive force making us do these things. There are no armies in the streets. Companies have shut down. Workers have stayed home and large scale events have been canceled. Why? Because most of us are concerned about others as well as being concerned for ourselves.

Most of us realize that our lives will never be the same again. Whatever the new normal turns out to be, it won’t be the old normal. We have discovered new ways of doing things. Some have developed new skills. Others have put their creative talents to work. Others have taken chances that they would never have taken. No one would deny that the pandemic is a major challenge; however, we will emerge wiser, stronger and better than before.

Of course, as always, there are nay sayers. There are those who think it is all a hoax. They doubt science. They doubt the experts and they doubt the reports from the legitimate news outlets, but their numbers are small compared to the vast majority who are helping to turn the tide on the pandemic.

We may fight loudly and fiercely about politics but when the welfare of our countrymen is at risk, we pull together. We unite for the common good. There will be plenty of time for fighting after we conquer the coronavirus.

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A Different Easter to Celebrate During Coronavirus War – ethicsdaily.com

It was a different Easter.

Gone were the new outfits. Gone were the in-person Easter egg hunts. Gone were the gatherings together for worship.

Our Sunday School class met by conference call. We watched the worship service on computers, iPhones and iPads. We were together but separate.

Gone were the big Easter family dinners. One friend and I – that was it. My sister in North Carolina laments it was the smallest Easter dinner she had ever cooked, but we were good soldiers in the coronavirus war.

We talked on our telephones, as has become our custom. We accounted for every family member – so far so good. We talked about the sunrise services of our youth when our dad was in charge of the arrangements.

Michael, my son, called to tell me about the new version of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” now showing on NBC.

I thought back to when I accompanied him and his young friend to see the road show version and how I worried about whether or not I was doing the right thing to take them.

My doubts lifted a few days later when I overheard Michael and the same friend discussing in serious tones whether or not Judas had a choice. And to my utter astonishment, discussing whether or not Judas could be saved.

Fourteen-year-old boys trying to solve a mystery that religious scholars have struggled with for two centuries. Yes, I was right to take them to see the show.

I settled in to watch the television version, trying to compare it to the original. It is a beautiful/horrible story or a horrible/beautiful story depending on your point of view.

I was forced to realize the problems of the last week are nothing in comparison to the last week Jesus endured before His crucifixion. Here it was again unfolding on the screen in front of me.

The hundreds of times I have heard the story, read the story, seen the story and told the story do not matter. Time does not soften its impact.

It grabs you and does not turn you lose even though you know the ending, even though you have experienced the ending. You are horrified all over again.

What a story! What an ending! What a new beginning!

Easter is beautiful where I live. The flowers and trees are dressed in such splendor that no store-bought outfit could even come close to competing.

Spring is here. New life is here. Coronavirus or no, a new day is dawning. Easter brings us new hope for all the days ahead.

The telephone rings. A friend is bringing me an Easter basket and a freshly made quiche. I meet her at her car and maintain six feet of distance between us.

She is a devout Christian out spreading joy wherever she can. I’m moved by her thoughtfulness.

It’s late, but it’s Easter. It’s time for me to call my daughter in Tennessee. They are in a different time zone.

“Hello, honey. Happy Easter.”

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When Your Life Loses Its Luster, Become a Child Again – ethicsdaily.com

What a message he spread for all to see. “I am happy and well cared for. The world is a beautiful and exciting place. I know everything is OK. I’m loved. See, here’s my rainbow.”

Robert is too young to have been taught the religious symbolism of the rainbow. He hasn’t studied the archetypes of Carl Jung, and yet his joyful creation is that of a rainbow.

This 2-year-old has it over the rest of us. His world is pure joy.

He cries when he falls. He laughs at whatever is funny and then he lets it go. He lets it go and then he is off on his next adventure. He is excited about everything. His walk around our block is awe-inspiring.

Robert’s world is pure joy. He has not studied at the foot of Richard Rohr to learn to be in the moment. He is in the moment – the here and now.

I would like to take a class with Robert, but I am too uptight to let loose and experience pure awe.

What if someone sees me drawing a rainbow in her or his driveway? She or he would call the nearest assisted living facility.

What if I stopped to marvel at a pebble or jumped for pure joy into a mud puddle? What if I giggled and ran after every neighborhood squirrel? What if I believed everything you said because you are all grown-up?

Robert doesn’t know me. He doesn’t know what color I am or what country I came from. He doesn’t know if I am a Christian, a Muslim or a Jew. I may be an atheist. He doesn’t know whether I am gay or straight.

Robert doesn’t know and he doesn’t care, but he gave me a present. He drew a rainbow for all my neighbors and me.

This is what Jesus said in my translation. “Look at Robert. Unless you have the faith that Robert has, you can never share my world of splendor and awe. You can never know peace. You will never be able to live in a state of pure joy.”

I can remember when the world was an exciting place. I can remember being overcome with awe. I remember getting up early to watch the sun peek over the horizon of the ocean.

I remember joy, but that was before I became jaded, suspicious, cautious, skeptical and wise. That was before I grew up and lost sight of what is important. That was before I let the world take it away.

I want to be Robert again. I want to feel so overwhelmingly joyful I give you a present without knowing or caring who you are.

I want to be Robert and accept you the way you are. I want to live in the moment and let it go when it has gone.

Thank you, Robert.

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