This week I've been taking two classes of continuing Ed at Yale. They are specifically designed for pastors and lay leaders. They're an integral part of the learning piece of the sabbatical. The first class was called "Leading God's People." It was a look at the writings of some of the Church Fathers and Mothers concerning the role of pastors in the church. We talked about the importance of leadership, the preferred spiritual orientation of the leader (humility), the cure of souls (pastoral care and leading people to Christ), the centrality of the study of the Holy Scriptures, and the role of preaching. It was based on a book by the same name and the author of the book, Christopher Beeley, was our instructor. The main takeaway from the class for me was the importance of regular times of study. I'll try to incorporate this advice into my routines when returning to the office in August...with God's help, of course.
My second class was really fun. It was called "The Bible through Art and Artifact," and it involved a look at specific biblical topics for the first hour, followed by field trips each day to some of the riches of the Yale collections. Today, for example, we looked at how the Hebrew texts and then the Christian tradition and translations treated Eve. (Hint: it ain't favorable in many Christian translations.)
We followed our discussion with a field trip to the Yale University Art Gallery--quite a wonderful resource. Actually we were there, also, earlier in the week to see the collection of Christian art from Dura-Europos, a site in Syria, where a house church was situated in the 3rd Century A.D. We also went to the Peabody Museum for a lecture in evolution and the fossil record, to the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments for a private harp concert (considering the role of music in the OT times), and to the Yale Gallery of British Art for a look at William Blake's illustrated poem Jerusalem: Emanation of the Great Albion and his illustrations for the book of Job. It was a thoroughly enjoyable class! There is another class like it--the first one developed by this professor--next year. I'd love to take that one, too...
Tomorrow morning we leave for the last 2 months of sabbatical. I'm looking forward to drawing and continuing to study Twelve-Step Spirituality with Richard Rohr's book Breathing Under Water.
Below, some photos:
1. From the wall of the baptistery in the house church in Dura-Europos: the Myrrh Bearers going to the tomb, early on Easter morning
2. The famous illustration Ancient of Days, from William Blake. The original!!!! I prefer to think of it as God, the great geometer.
3. The frame of a centuries-old harp, made of ivory and wood, featuring the head of King David, also known for playing the harp back in the day.
4. Classmates reenacting the story of Adam, Eve, and the serpent from Genesis 2.