Deep in the Burbs is a story of the Triune God. The research question asks “How might an increased awareness of the social Trinity impact the ideation and praxis of spiritual formation in suburban ELCA congregations?” It might be easy to think of this as if the social Trinity was a chunk of knowledge that could be presented to the Research Team for objective evaluation and ultimate acceptance or rejection. This idea is (a) not congruent with my pedagogy, and (b) contrary to the nature of the Triune God. The research was conducted in the understanding that God is not an object that can be studied or a concept to be considered, but that God is the ground of being itself from which all life springs forth. All human speech about God is, at best, an analogy, metaphor, or simile. All theology is a human construction of symbols—models—that point to the unknowable God, but can never define or explain God. Therefore, this is a question that wonders (a) whether the models of the Triune God that we have inherited from our Western Theological predecessors are adequate and helpful for the current context in which the church finds itself, and (b) if an alternate model of the Trinity might provide more space for a missional imagination of spiritual formation in the local congregation.
The Deep in the Burbs Research Project is a story of a particular place in Midwest suburbia. It was necessary to pursue this research in a specific location, through participatory action research within three neighboring congregations, because it is my assumption that a reasonably adequate Christian theology is done in, with, under, against, and for the local congregation. To know anything truly, especially how God is at work in the world, is to study the particularities of it. This research project asks how an increased awareness and understanding of the social Trinity might impact the ideation and praxis of spiritual formation in suburban ELCA congregations. This implies, and I assert, that it might have far different effects on people in different contexts. Therefore, I must limit my inquiry to a specific group of people in a specific place. There are two classifications in which I will describe the people in this study and frame the question. The first is suburban. The second is Lutheran.
Yep, it’s hard to believe, but I finished writing the entire dissertation (240 pages). This cold day when all activities were cancelled was a real blessing for me. I’ve been working since 6am (it is now 8:20pm) and I just sent the first draft of the dissertation to my reading team.
This doesn’t mean I’m finished, but it does mean that I have it written. Now I have to go through and fine-tooth edit the beast. I hope to turn in the final draft by the end of the month.
Pray that it makes sense and will allow me to pass!