I was invited last week to give the Faith Forum lectures at Eastern University in Philadelphia. It was a wonderful time and the generosity and hospitality of Joe Modica, a long time friend, will remain with me. I could say lots of things, but these are my highlights:
It was great to see some friends and make some new ones: I got to spend lots of time with Joe, who has been an encouragement to me for years. And, I saw Kent Sparks and Margaret Peterson and Debbie Watson, but also met for the first time Ron Sider (wow moments for me) and Dwight Peterson and Christopher Hall. A special thanks to Margaret and Dwight Peterson for their hospitality on Wednesday evening. In addition, I had lunch and chatted with Carl Mosser, who has done some very careful work on Hebrews I will be contemplating, and then a bundle of other Faculty — and I better not start listing names for fear of forgetting.
Joe let me teach his NT survey class, which is reading Embracing Grace. The Eastern students had lots of really good questions and, because I’m not their professor, more candid questions. We thought through some of the implications of the book for evangelism. The students at Eastern impressed me.
OK, it was special for me to meet Ron Sider over at Palmer Theological Seminary and I told him so. His book, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, changed my life. Unfortunately, Amazon does not have up the newest edition so I don’t want to link to the Amazon site for this book. Sider’s radical call to a more just way of living has influenced us, though I cannot say I have always lived up to the calling of Sider. Sider gave me a social conscience in 1977. I linked Sunday to his conference at Palmer the end of March and, again, I hope you can attend.
My talks at Eastern, which I won’t summarize here, were on things we forget during election time and I suggested these three things:
We forget our enemy is our brother, our enemy is our sister.
We forget that the church is our focus.
We forget that justice is defined by the Bible.
On Valentine’s Day evening — yes some brave souls made their way to the auditorium — we had a conversation on the themes of how we read the Bible from my forthcoming book, The Blue Parakeet.
To Joe especially, but to everyone there, thanks for the invitation to be with you.