Month: August 2013

Library from Anywhere

Resources for your ministry from the Christoph Keller, Jr. Library

Most of you are aware that we have a new library at General Theological Seminary. We have a beautiful facility that opened two years ago.

reading room full of students (2)

The Christoph Keller Library is used locally by many students, faculty and visitors. But the new Keller Library can also be used from anywhere! The richness and depth of the library’s resources are available wherever and whenever needed for your ministry.

There are lots of things available on the internet, of course. And contrary to popular belief, our librarians aren’t here to judge you if you Google something, or look it up on Wikipedia. But many of us, in our theological pursuits, are looking for something in more depth: perhaps an authoritative source for what St. Augustine actually said , or perhaps to read a book that has been widely discussed that’s not available for free like Zealot: the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan, or to find a review of a book in a respected journal,  or a journal article by a senior GTS faculty member on a topic like Same Sex marriage.

If you’ve clicked on these links, you will probably note that a login is required. This is because the companies that license this material require that users be enrolled at GTS. If you aren’t enrolled yet, see below –we have a very special deal for alumni/ae. If you are enrolled but having trouble, please contact Laura Moore or Mary Robison.

Since January, we have added nearly 7000 e-books to our collection and we have over 400 full-text theological journals available online. Some are available free . We expect thousands more ebooks and steady growth in our electronic journals collections in the coming year.

The Keller Library on the day after Hurricane Sandy

The Keller Library on the day after Hurricane Sandy

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We have had a program called Theological Research from a Distance since 2006. This is an independent study continuing education course-LIB1- that provides access to the services and resources of the Keller Library. Anyone who is enrolled can use e-books, e-journals, borrow books by mail and consult with our expert staff. This year, we will be enhancing this service by sending enrollees several times each semester suggestions for electronic resources that are relevant to ministry.

Topics will include:

Biblical and Liturgical resources for Lectionary Year A, Episcopal and Local Church history, Women in the Bible and Early Church, The Liturgical Year, Getting the most out of JSTOR and the ATLA ReligionDatabase, and others.

The cost for enrollment is a bargain at $200 per year for anyone and GTS alumni/ae get a 50% discount, so they can enroll for a full year for only $100.

You Fool!

A sermon at Trinity Church, Ossining, NY  August 4, 2013

Lessons:  Ecclesiastes 1:2,12-14; 2:18-23   Colossians 3:1-11  [12-17]  Luke 12:13-21

You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you.

To me, one of the most ominous things about the parable that Jesus tells in today’s Gospel, is that it makes no sense in twenty-first century American culture. Basically the story is that the guy’s business is doing really well, so he decides to invest in improved facilities, expand his operation and put away something for the future.
So what is Jesus getting at? This is the prescribed course for success that you would get anywhere, from self-help books to financial advice columns or tomes by Nobel Prize winning economists. What this guy does embodies the values of contemporary American culture.
So I guess Jesus is calling us all fools. No wonder most people don’t come to church anymore. But why does he say it? And why do we miss his point? Let’s look at the story, what’s in it? There are crops, an abundance of crops, barns, business planning, success. The man even has a soul, you know because he talks to it: “Soul, you have ample goods…relax, eat, drink, be merry.” Pretty much the American Dream, complete. What’s not in this story?

large estate
There is nobody else in the story.
No one.

Just the rich man and his thoughts for his own security and comfort.
In recent decades, Americans have increasingly moved toward admiring people simply for the sake of achieving wealth and comfort; perhaps because we aspire for the same for ourselves. But these are non-Christian values. It’s not that comfort or planning or even wealth are bad, but what do we value, what are our priorities, what do we seek after in our lives? First, the better question not what, but who do we value. God’s people are all around us, each with a need for kindness, compassion, generosity. The Kingdom of God is not made up of isolated individuals, each with her own castle. Rather it is the Body of Christ where each interrelated member is generous to the others and thrives through the hospitality of the whole Body.
Today’s reading from Colossians emphasizes this: “…you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourself with the new self — which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.” Our values as Christians are to grow in kindness and connection with others. Pre-occupation with our own survival, our own comfort or our own wealth, either as individuals or as a church, is unworthy of the Gospel of Christ. Christ calls us to be encouraged, and to have the courage to live lives of generosity and caring.

The concluding words of the Gospel lesson about the fool are: “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves, but are not rich toward God.” The permanent value of all that we gain is in giving to others; it is foolish to think that holding on to things makes one wealthy.
The Epistle to the Colossians continues with words that describe the wealth of Christians, so I’ll conclude with this passage:

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”