I’ve said it before – I love airports. There’s something about the random humanity that fascinates me. I’m in an airport as I write this – Chicago O’Hare, to be exact – at some concourse restaurant grabbing a hot dog. Aptly titled “the Chicago.” I like the way my waiter pronounced it when he brought it to me – “CHI-cago,” not “SHI-cago” like us non-residents are prone to say. I gladly stand corrected.
I’ve spent the past week in the Windy City at McCormick Theological Seminary. You know those people who have elaborate plans to tour all major league ballparks? A few years back I decided to do the same thing with Presbyterian Church (USA) seminaries. I know, not as exciting; but as I'm proving at this very moment, you can still get a hot dog. Anyway, there are nine or ten of them, depending on how many you count in the mix; and including the three I attended for formal schooling I’ve been to six: Union (Richmond, VA), Columbia (Decatur/Atlanta), Pittsburgh, Louisville, Austin and now McCormick in Chicago. I’m always amazed by the diversity of the schools and the people associated with them, but also all the things they share in common. Every school in their own unique way is making a difference.
I usually try to attend some specific event, like a conference, but if that’s not available I’ll spend a few days just studying and reading. The latter was my intention when, back in the summer, I pulled up McCormick’s web site. And then my eyes caught a little blurb about their brand new Certification in Environmental Ministries and Leadership. Anyone who knows me can certainly understand my immediate interest. I was getting spousal permission and plane tickets within days.
The program is spearheaded by four faculty and involved ten participants from all over the country and beyond (a gentleman from north of the border joined us). We met for three days, two of which were seminar-style discussions and one “field trip” day to a local conservation. Lots of incredible conversation and insight. In many ways its getting back to some of the core Biblical and theological emphases on "creation-care" that we seem to have lost in recent years - captured quite eloquently in a comment I remember someone making in our local curbside recycling brouhaha last spring: that "God loves people, not the earth" (there's this little thing called John 3:16 you ought to check out...) It's helping me fine-tune my perspectives and passions on the issue so I can do my part to help the faithful reclaim an important conversation that's been sorely neglected.
Anyway, this was part one of two trips - we’ll be back in early 2012, after which we’ll have a project to complete. And as much as I enjoyed the program itself, I also fell in love with Chicago. The seminary is located in Hyde Park, on the south side of town. I came to love the neighborhoods and my daily walks through the University of Chicago campus to some friends who graciously opened up their guest room for me. It was also cool to reconnect with some old Mount Airy peeps (and a former Mediocre Bad Guy band member) who moved up here a year or so ago. Hyde Park is a fantastic place, bustling with activity amidst old-school buildings and homes, ornate trees, and two – yes, TWO – organic coffee shops. Take that, Starbucks.
Lots to think about as I board my flight home in an hour – including my strategy on how to get to my parked car as quickly as possible so I can to book it home in time to make a Mediocre Bad Guys gig. Enjoy the pics that follow, and pay special note to the incredible rainbow that greeted me this morning as I prepared to depart. I'll take it as a sign that this week was time well spent.
Home of a certain famous Chicago residence who currently resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC. About two blocks from the seminary. Pleasantly waved to the Secret Service guy parked across the street before snapping this pic.
So I was walking to my last class Saturday morning with suitcase in tow right in the middle of a rainshower. Kind of a pain, until the sun came out and I stopped at 55th Street to see this. If it's not a sign of the promise, at the very least it's a Starbucks PR dream.