Two of Three Pilgrim Essays Updated

I have slightly revised two of my Pilgrim Essays, Starting from Cane Ridge and The Road to Canterbury. Nothing of substance has changed, but some slight revisions of language were necessary, as the entry into the Orthodox Church was only anticipated at the time of the last revision (summer 2004).

I’m working to bring my The Journey to Antioch up to date, hopefully within the next few days.


Starting from Cane Ridge VIII

[Note: These posts are available in a single html document here.]

Leaving the Trail, Looking for Canterbury

By autumn 1990, I began my final year at Ozark. I was a much different person than when I’d begun four years earlier, in 1986. Having been raised in the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement churches, in April of 1986 I had made my first adult commitment to those churches, and later that summer had decided to pursue a vocation in ministry. I had explicitly owned the Restoration Plea, and served various student ministries as part of my training and education. But by the start of my final year, I’d begun to question the Restoration Plea, had come to new theological and philosophical convictions, had owned the legitimacy and normative standard of the Church’s historical liturgy for worship, and had begun to come to an understanding of the sacramental nature of Christian faith. I longed for some sort of tangible connection to the historic Church, the New Testament Church which I was in the process of concluding had never disappeared nor ever had its faith diluted or changed. I had been introduced to the Book of Common Prayer, and had begun to make connections between my evangelical heroes of the faith, C. S. Lewis, T. S. Eliot, and Dorothy Sayers, and the Anglican church of which they were faithful members. At the same time that I was reading a biography of T. S. Eliot, I was also reading Robert Webber’s Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail.
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Starting from Cane Ridge VII

A Change of Foundational Thinking

So, from the fall of 1989 through the end of my schooling at Ozark, significant changes were occurring, changes which involved a major restructuring of my worldview as well as major changes in my theological understanding. These changes were mutually reinforcing of one another. A change in theology would entail a revision of my worldview, and vice versa. In time, I moved from a naive modernism, to something of a chosen anti-modernism, to eventual postmodernist understandings, and beyond postmodernism to Tradition and orthodoxy.
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Starting from Cane Ridge VI

The Discovery of Liturgy and the Longing for the Historic Church

I returned to campus in January 1990, intent on finishing my degree, but becoming more conflicted about my developing worldview understandings and the tenor of the intellectual climate at school. One of the classes I enrolled in was Professor J K Jones’ “Practical Ministry” class. As the name may lead one to believe, it was very much about the practical aspects of ministry: conducting weddings and funerals, administering baptisms, pastoral calling, taxes, personal finances, sermon preparation, time management, and, most important of all, the minister’s personal worship discipline. To facilitate that last, we were required to purchase Bob Benson’s and Michael W. Benson’s, Disciplines for the Inner Life, a devotional book that is very much modelled on the daily office. There was a weekly theme, with lectionary and readings. A structure including an invocation, a psalm and a benediction. It was liturgy—though I didn’t then know it.
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Starting from Cane Ridge V

An Individual Renaissance

The academic year that began in August of 1989 did not give any obvious portents of what was to come. Earlier that summer my girlfriend and I had broken up and I ended the student youth ministry I had served for a couple of years. During the summer I had worked on the grounds crew at the local refinery and done some supply preaching to area churches. Toward the end of the summer I sold my first car for a new Ford Tempo. When the school year began, I ended up changing my major to the more solid five-year theology degree (since I already had most of the classes I needed for it). I dated a little bit at the beginning of the semester. And I worked at odd jobs that I could pick up around town.

But two things did happen in the first month that started the process of change that was coming. I saw the movie Dead Poets Society, and was invited to an informal study group led by a local minister and adjunct professor at the college.
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Starting from Cane Ridge IV

The First Years at Ozark Christian College

My five years at Ozark Christian College are a period in my life to which I look back with nostalgia, thanksgiving and joy. There were struggles, to be sure. At one point, as will be explained, I considered leaving. But even knowing what I do now, I would not hesitate to redo that period of my life. Indeed, it is precisely because of what I learned, and the mentoring I received, that I eventually came to where I am now, on the threshold of the Orthodox Church.
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Starting from Cane Ridge III

Senior Year Decisions

Through all these things a good solid foundation of faith had pretty much just been laid when the summer of 1985 came around. My parents, after several weeks’ separation, made another attempt to reunite. And they decided to try to get jobs back in our hometown area so that we could move back to our hometown. This would enable me to graduate with the class with whom I’d grown up. As much as I had hated to leave Augusta, I was ambivalent about returning. There was excitement to see my friends again, but I was not enthusiastic to leave my first real church home.
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Starting from Cane Ridge II

Renewal of Faith

I was born at the time of the split in the Disciples, so my upbringing in the Stone-Campbell churches reflected the difficult feelings resultant from the split. My understanding of the Church was staunchly anti-denominational, and, to a degree, anti-intellectual, both reactions to theological liberalism and to the denominationalism that forced out most of the former Disciples churches.

As is often the case with young believers, my teen years proved a difficult time, especially concerning faith and morals. Although I would not have denied the central Christian doctrines I had been taught–such as the divinity of Christ and the Trinitarian understanding of God–in terms of moral behavior, I succumbed to those fairly typical temptations of teen years: lust, drunkenness, lying, and mistreatment of other “weaker” teens. Being a year-round sport letterman, I fit in with the “macho athletic” crowd, got into some fights, and picked on other kids. At the same time, being in the accelerated study program, I was held to higher expectations, and was fairly frequently in outright rebellion with my teachers and other authority figures. Although drugs made inroads among my peers, by my own parents’ involvement in my life, as well as the mercy of God, I was kept free from drug use. Too, I’d seen the effects drugs had had among my own family members, losing an uncle to the downward spiral drugs inflict, and so had a strong influence against using drugs.
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Starting from Cane Ridge I

[Note: I have written of my journey to Antioch, still very much under way. But my account of my attraction to and movement toward Orthodoxy is only the last of a trilogy, which includes an account of my childhood and early adulthood in the Restoration Movement church (this present series), and an account of my attraction to the Anglican tradition and my confirmation in the Episcopal Church. These three sets of autobiographical essays were originally conceived during the summer of 2000. I was then extremely disillusioned with the Episcopal Church, after having had one term at seminary, was looking into Orthodoxy, and wanted to come to some sense of assessment in all this. I wanted to understand whence I had come, what then preoccupied me, and reflect on where I might find myself. The three separate essays were written within several months, and they’ve seen many revisions since then. This is the first part of the account of my Restoration Movement heritage.]

Early Childhood

I was born at 11:09 am, Thursday morning, 21 September 1967 in Wichita, Kansas. I was born a few weeks premature. My dad was working out in the field on my grandpa’s farm when my mom went into labor, and they had to race to get him in a world before cellphones. At birth I had some breathing problems, so I remained in the hospital for several days. But soon I was brought to a loving Christian home.
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