March 20, 2009

By Stella Burkhalter, MDiv Senior

A Publication of the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary Community

Issue #175

God and I have an understanding. I’m a visual learner, so when I need to know something, God gives me a picture. There was that time I was beating myself up for falling short and wondering what my sinful self looked like to God. Just then, a picture popped into my head: The Thing from the Fantastic Four1. It was so ridiculous that I knew it had to be from God. It cracked me up. The cool thing was, God also showed me that the ugly, brown thing-ness can melt off. Sin is not who we are, it’s what clings to us, and God’s grace can melt it off and reveal what we are created to be. Another time, I was frustrated about what a mess a situation in my life had become, and God gave me a picture of a pile of yarn that was hopelessly knotted and tangled. It occurred to me that all I had to do was hand the pile over to God and God could handle it, handing me back a beautiful, neat ball. That became my practice in prayer – I’d visualize whatever was worrying me as a mess of yarn, and I’d visualize myself handing the mess over to God. It always made me lighten up and remember that we serve a mighty God who has the power to change things in our lives in surprising ways. People who work out will tell you that you can’t keep exercising the same way for too long,

and I think that’s something for us theologians to consider, too. My pile-of-yarn prayer got old after a while. One day I asked God to help me with a mess as I stood there with the tangles in my hands for the thousandth time. I think God was sick of me. “You again with the yarn? Didn’t I just fix that for you?” Instead of taking it from me, God gave me a picture. It was me playing with God in a gigantic pile of yarn. The picture came and went so fast that I didn’t get a look at God, but what I did get was the message: “Why are you so obsessed with having everything in neat little balls? This is how it is. Get over it. Come play with me.” Once again, it was funny. God is funny. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful, too, that for those of us who are a little slow, God is willing to paint a picture. Maybe next week I’ll write about the picture of the purple-headed chicken.

The Thing and Fantastic Four are the creative work of Marvel Comics and 20th Century Fox. Inside This Issue

Chapel Schedule Announcements and Events Explorations in Identity: Part 6 Student Voting Changes

2 2 3 4

What I Learned in Seminary Today Weekly Calendar

5 6

© 2009 Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Issue 175

Page 2

Chapel Schedule March 23—March 27 Monday: Sung Liturgy Worship Committee and Student-led Service of Word and Sacrament, Dr. Andy Dearman, preacher Sung Liturgy Worship Committee and Student-led Service of the Word Mindy Baker, preacher

Ordination Exam preparation workshops are offered only once a year, so do take advantage of these if you plan to take ordination exams this August or next January. One of the number one reasons people fail to pass an exam is a failure to read the question thoroughly or a failure to follow general directions. Don’t be one of those failures. All workshops will be held in McMillan 210. Contact Ann Fields for more information. General Overview Monday, May 4, 6:00-7:00 Led by Lesley Davies from GA in Louisville, and Shane Webb, APTS MDiv Student Biblical Exegesis Monday, May 4, 7:00-8:00 Led by Andy Dearman Worship & Sacraments Tuesday, May 5, 6:00-8:00 Led by Jen Lord Church Polity Wednesday, May 6, 6:00-8:00 Led by Fred Morgan Theological Competence Thursday, May 7, 6:00-8:00 Led by Dave Jensen




Senior MDiv students preach in chapel on most Mondays and Fridays.

Income Tax Issues for Clergy
All students, as well as ordained faculty and administrators are invited to our second annual Seminar on Income Tax Issues for Clergy. • Thursday, April 23 • Presented by Debbie Steinbach, CPA and spouse of Rev., Phil Steinbach, an Austin Seminary graduate • 6:00-8:00 PM • McCord 204 This seminar is strongly encouraged for all seniors. If you are a junior or middler, please be aware that we plan to offer this seminar again next year. This is not your only chance. Contact Ann Fields for more information.

The remaining Senior Seminars are listed below. Please plan to take advantage of them. Contact Ann Fields for more information. Working with PNC’s, CPM’s & COM’s Led by Rev. Kathy Anderson Thursday, March 26 6:00-8:00 McMillan 210 Pastoral Ethics (required by many presbyteries) Led by David Johnson Wednesday, April 15 & Thursday, April 16 6:00-8:00 McCord 204 Both Sessions are Required for Pastoral Ethics credit

Settles Lectures 2009
Dr. William Storrar, Director of the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, NJ, will present two lectures on Mission and Public Theology. These lectures explore the relationship between mission and public theology, as that term is understood by the new International Journal of Public Theology ( ). ‘The Common Ground' Tuesday, March 24, 5:30 p.m. 'The Creative Tension' Wednesday, March 25, 11:00 a.m. Lectures will be held in Shelton Chapel with overflow seating in McMillan 210. For more information, contact Alison Riemersma in the Dean’s Office.

Parents’ Night Out
Mark your calendar for the following dates: • Friday, March 27, Hicks Community House, 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. RSVP by Wednesday, March 25. • Friday, April 17, Hicks Community House, 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. RSVP by Wednesday, April 15. RSVP to Laurel Dixon, Babysitting Coordinator at 4738797 or Space is Limited!

Issue 175

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A Miniseries of Reflections from Travels Abroad
By Mary Elizabeth Prentice, MDiv Middler

Part Six: Identity as Via Negativa
It seems timely to be writing and reflecting about a time when identity for many is being redefined. While I was not on campus the week before Spring Break, when the entire community trembled through tumultuous times, I have heard some of the gossip. And the prevailing question seems to be – what makes us different from everyone else? The seminary and churches around the world are obviously not exempted from the economic crisis, but are we different in our handling of the crisis compared to other institutions? I hope and pray that we are. From the church doors of Regent Street Presbyterian Church in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, to the doors of McCord on the APTS campus, we are brothers and sisters united in our faith in Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. We are most importantly an interdependent community and not individuals alone in this world. People, places and situations are defining and redefining themselves continuously. Often times it begins by stating what they are not, rather than ascribing to distinctive particularities. This theme seems to prevail in many of my interactions in life right now. For example: Last week on March 9, two unarmed British soldiers were shot dead outside their military barracks while receiving a pizza delivery in Antrim, Northern Ireland1. The next night, a police officer was shot and killed in what appeared to be pre-meditated aggression on police who were responding to a “call for help.” This is the first of such violence on military and public servants seen in Northern Ireland for 12 years. The Real-IRA, a splinter group from the IRA (Irish Republican Army) that did not agree to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, claimed responsibilities for the attacks hours after each event. To my great surprise and relief, the rival paramilitary organization (Ulster Defense Association [UDA]) publically announced they would not advocate reprisal attacks. Sinn Fein, the political party representative of the Nationalist/Republican/Catholic views, also harshly condemned the attacks and publically distanced itself from this splinter group2. On Wednesday March 11, 2009, 10,000 people gathered in the city center to peacefully demonstrate that these murderous actions do not represent who they are/were or want to be. They carried placards read “No Going Back”, and Nationalists/ Republicans/Catholics stood side-by-side with Loyalist/Protestants. From my whirlwind visit and in reading the newspapers there, my observation is that, while the road to peace is unclear and filled with potholes, there is a general sense that the people of Northern Ireland will not tolerate going back to the times of The Troubles. The people of Northern Ireland may not know a true and full peace, but they certainly know what is not peaceful, and they seem to be choosing to define themselves in a via negativa mindset. This via negativa mindset is where the church and seminary must live for now. We may not know how to expertly ride this tumultuous wave of economic uncertainty, but it is my hope and prayer is that we as a seminary and as “church” can be a place and space where people know they are not alone. We are not absolved from worldly hurt, but we are also a people that try to stand and live into the firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence to us in this broken world.
Photo reference: Notes: 1. 933107.stm 2.

Issue 175

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Proposed Voting Process For Student Body President, Student Senate, Elections Commissioner and Committee Representatives
The Student Senate is proposing a change to the Constitution regarding the election of student officers. The proposal will be presented, discussed, and considered at an upcoming Manna. What follows is a description of the current situation and the proposal for change. The proposed system would allow for voters to vote their preference of candidate no matter what situation arises. The proposed election system would bring the election cycle down to about 4 weeks at most. Because of the way the elections would be conducted, there would be no runoff elections (they would be built into the first ballots) and candidates would be elected in a much quicker amount of time. The ballots would ask the voter to rank the candidates in order of preference to be used in case no candidate is elected immediately. Because voters rank the candidates they always have a say in the election process and they never have to make a choice between the “lesser of evils.” Here is (hopefully) a simple breakdown of how the proposed voting system works. There are other explanations on the Internet, and there are links to them at the end of this letter. This example will use the student body president election as the example. 1. 2. 3. Adam, Billy, Cindy, and Diane are all nominated and are running for president. Students are given (electronically using email and the Internet) a ballot that asks them to rank ALL candidates by preference. After the election has ended the first preferences are tallied up as everyone’s vote and the results show the Diane has 30 votes, Cindy 27, Billy 26, and Adam 17. Since no candidate has reached a majority something else has to happen to elect a candidate. Normally we would have a second round of voting with new ballots. In the proposed system we move to the instant runoff. Adam has the lowest vote count and so his ballots are redistributed based on the second preference. Let’s assume that most of Adam’s supporters favored Billy and to a lesser extent Diane and Cindy. The new tally is Diane 33, Cindy 31, and Billy 36. We still have no majority winner and so another instant runoff is held, this time Cindy’s ballots are redistributed based on the next preference. Assuming most of Cindy’s support went to Diane the new tally is Diane 58 and Billy 42. Diane is declared the winner because she now has a majority of the votes. All this happened within a matter of minutes once the final vote was cast and each and every person’s ballot was counted in a way they preferred. While the system seems more difficult, it is actually a much more efficient and fair way of holding an election. While the system isn’t exactly the same when it comes to electing senators or committee representatives the guiding principles are the same. This is because we aren’t electing a single winner but multiple winners in a single election. There is an added step in redistributing some of the votes. This system is officially called single transferable vote instead of instant runoff voting. If you would like to learn more about the proposed system or watch some really cool videos check out these web resources. - the easiest/shortest way to get acquainted with the proposed voting system. Yes the last two come from Wikipedia, but they are accurate and in depth and provide a good picture of what IRV and STV are. For more information, contact Melissa Koerner, Student Body President, or Matthew Thompson, Senator.

Mark your calendars!
Commencement News Baccalaureate Sat., May 23 6:00 p.m. Commencement Sun., May 24 2:30 p.m.
Both Events Will Be Held At University Presbyterian Church See Alison in the dean’s office for more information.




Issue 175

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A Weekly Column Offering Musings, Insights, and Reflections on the Seminary Life

By Paul Dubois, MDiv Senior • • On Monday, March 9, there were fewer than 10 people at the chapel prayer service, including the leaders. At about the time the service concluded, an e-mail was sent heralding the seminary’s cost cutting actions and that seven persons were no longer employed by the seminary. Chapel attendance was significantly higher on Tuesday for the Service of Word and Sacrament, with a faculty member presiding. Although there was no chapel on Wednesday, many were gathered in Stotts for a campus-wide meeting regarding the campus changes enacted on Monday. This meeting concluded with prayers of gratitude, lament, and hope. On Thursday, fewer than 10 persons gathered in chapel for the daily prayer service. On Friday’s Service of the Word, a senior student delivered his senior sermon, a right-of-passage enjoined by many–members of his class and friends, in addition to others.

• •

• •

Someone observing these events might suggest that the Monday and Thursday prayer services represent the basal rate of community worship on our campus–10. When the excitement dies down, this is the pulse at rest. Surely there were other moments of prayer and worship during the week, and not just in chapel. God doesn’t exist in the chapel alone, but the chapel is a place for us to come together to pray, to worship, and to commune. As the Library is a place for study and Stotts Hall as a place for refreshment and community, the chapel is a place where our diversity yields to our unity. But I wonder why our basal rate is so low. I don’t know, maybe it is not so low. It’s not about the attendance anyway. It’s about our reluctance, inability or apathy towards gathering regularly in prayer and worship, to be present with one another and before God. If it isn’t happening here... why do we think it will happen in the churches we leave here to serve? I fear we have more reasons not to worship and pray together than we do to head up that hill and join together in being a prayerful community. There are times that we are drawn to chapel. We show up when our good friends are preaching or leading. We show up for special events, when the administration

encourages us. We show up for a favorite professor’s sermon. But these moments constitute the veneer of our life together as a worshiping community; they are not the fabric. When a crisis comes the veneer falls away; it is the fabric that holds us together. In times of crisis we are drawn in to community, but that’s not really the best time to weave the fabric of community. Instead, it is in times of crisis that one sees the character and resilience of the community that has been woven. While most of us surely strive to live our lives centered on God, that doesn’t necessarily make our community God-centered. As a community, do we intentionally enter into prayer and worship with one another? Do we seriously engage in a life of community worship and prayer? Are we rooted in a life of discernment together? I don’t want to get hung up on words like ‘chapel’, ‘worship’, and ‘prayer’. I certainly don’t want to reduce the question to a matter of chapel attendance. Yet... when, why, and how do we come together as a people? Only during a crisis? Are we engaged in a life together that matters? If this is not the fabric of our community, then it seems to me that we are not really a Christian community at all. Rather, we are a school and a workplace and a multifamily residential community. The nexus of chapel, worship, and prayer seems to offer a threshold for us, beckoning but not compelling us to enter, a grace that can be refused. Towards the end of his spiritual autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton pondered the magnitude of cruelty and destruction that occurred during World War II. He gave thanks for the thousands of monastics around the world who, during this time, did little but pray–pray in solitude and in their communities set apart from the rest of society. Merton offers this arresting thought: How much more severe, more cruel, and more destructive would this war have been had it not been for the thousands of monastics around the world constantly praying for peace, mercy, and love? How many millions more would have died if not for them? Merton’s thought convicts me: It is the intentional, deliberate life of God-centered prayer and worship that sustains our common life. I don’t go to chapel because I enjoy it, or because it is engaging, relevant, or reverent. I go for myself, because I have to go. I go for you, because I want to meet you there. I want to be there, with you, together, in prayer and praise, seeking forgiveness and hoping for hope, for the benefit of this school, this community, our families, and our world.

Do you have something to say to Kairos? Something to add… Something to refute?
If so, we’d like to hear. We are committed to dialogue. Letters to the editor will be published. See page 6 of this issue for our editorial guidelines.

Issue 174

Page 6

Monday, March 23rd
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

Sung Liturgy Worship Committee and student-led Spiritual Direction – Scott Quinn Acts 2:42 – Jose Lopez MATS Colloquium – Ellen Babinsky

Shelton Chapel McCord 202 McCord 203 McCord 201

Tuesday, March 24th
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.


Service of the Word and Sacrament Led by Andy Dearman Chapel Team: Mari Lyn Jones and Clare Lozano MSSW/MDIV Group – Nikki Stahl Company of New Pastors Informational Lunch Judy Fletcher’s Kroning – Laura Harris Settles Lecture – Dr. William Storrar

Shelton Chapel McCord 201 Knox Dining Hall McCord 203 Shelton Chapel/Vickery Atrium/McMillan 210

Wednesday, March 25th
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Judy Fletcher’s Kroning – Laura Harris Midweek Manna – Student Senate Settles Lecture – Dr. William Storrar Spiritual Direction – Jean Springer Corpus Christi – Scott Spence Student Senate – Melissa Koerner Spiritual Direction – Barbara Schutz APTS Choir Rehearsal Faculty Board Meeting – Nancy Reese Faculty in Executive Session – Nancy Reese Company of New Pastors Balcones Community Orchestra – Outside Group

Knox Dining Hall Stotts Dining Hall Shelton Chapel/McMillan 210 McCord 202 McCord 201 McMillan 206 McMillan 205 Shelton Chapel Trull Boardroom Trull Boardroom McCord 201 McMillan 211

Thursday, March 26th
8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Judy Fletcher’s Kroning – Laura Harris Mission Presbytery CPM Spiritual Direction – Barbara Schutz Sung Liturgy Worship Committee and student-led Call 2 – Gail Dalrymple Senior Seminar: Working with PNCs, CPMs, COMs

Knox Dining Hall McCord 203 McCord 202 Shelton Chapel McCord 201 McMillan 210

Friday, March 27th
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Mission Presbytery CPM Spiritual Direction – Joe Berry Worship: Service of the Word Mindy Baker, preacher Still Small Voice – Margaret Talbot Business Affairs Strategic Planning Meeting – Lori Rohre

McCord 203 McCord 202 Shelton Chapel Knox Dining Hall Knox Dining Hall

Saturday, March 28th
8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. 2:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Mission Presbytery CPM Fund for Theological Education – Kathy Muenchow Carol Howard-Merrit Workshop – Kathy Muenchow The Growing Generation, Inc. – Outside Group

McCord 203 McCord 201 McMillan 204/205/206/210 Knox Dining Hall

Sunday, March 29th
2:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Austin Girl’s Choir – Sara McClure

Shelton Chapel

Submissions to Kairos: Email submissions to the editor, Paul Dubois, at Calendar events and room reservation requests should be sent to Katherine Sweet at or made in person at the McCord desk. Editorial decisions are based on urgency, availability of space, and editorial guidelines. Deadline is Wednesday at 5:00 P.M. Submissions made after deadline must be accompanied by a dunkel. 1 2 3 4 5 Kairos Editorial Guidelines Kairos is the voice of students at Austin Seminary. Kairos generally carries no advertisement for sales of goods or services by individuals. An exception is the sale of a student’s library or other study aids. It is not possible to make all program announcements which are submitted by individual churches. Kairos is more likely to be able to run announcements which apply to ecumenical or interfaith groups or groups of churches. No letters which attack individuals or groups will be run in Kairos. This is to be distinguished from letters which might criticize the actions of individuals or groups. Kairos will publish letters to the editor that contribute to Christian conversation on the APTS campus. All letters must be signed.