Category Archives: richard

5 Questions | Theology and the Arts

1.       What’s unique about your program/emphasis?

The fact that it exists. I did the Theology and the Arts emphasis, and there are very few places where you can study theology and the arts the way you can at Fuller. Some seminaries may offer a class or two in the arts or media or something along those lines, but not many have multiple emphases, a slew of classes, experiential courseslots of faculty, artists in residence, and an entire “department” dedicated to exploring the intersection of theology and the arts. And while there are a couple of other seminaries you can perhaps breath the rarefied air of high art (painting, sculpture etc.), but only Fuller allows you to also get down n’ dirty with the populist art forms (movies, pop music) that are really shaping our culture.2.       How do you see your degree fitting into your career goals?

Two ways:
a) Teaching. I want to teach theology and culture/arts in my native New Zealand. This is the degree I need to realize that goal. Continue reading

Online Classes: Pop Goes the Seminary

Most of my Fuller classes were on-campus, but most on-campus students still take at least a handful of online classes. The best of the online bunch, for me, was TC509: THEOLOGY AND POPULAR CULTURE with Dr. Craig Detweiler. This is the sort of class that anybody can get into because, let’s face it: we’re all pop culture junkies. Theology and Popular Culture takes our steady communal diet of television, internet, and fashion and puts it under the theological microscope, reshaping how we think about and engage with media and entertainment.

Each week was structured around a different sphere of life. The topic that I perhaps found most provocative was advertising. Continue reading

LA LA Land Highlights

People that don’t like L.A. haven’t lived here. Being a student at Fuller allows you the opportunity to become BFFs with this bizarre, unique and truly epic city. It’s not entirely visitor-friendly but by the time you’ve finished your degree, you’ll know this place inside-out. Here are my five favorite things to do here, in no particular order.

Norton Simon Museum
Let’s start close to home. Pasadena has a lot of must-see places: the Huntington, the Rose Bowl, Gamble House, Caltech etc. But my personal favorite is the Norton Simon Museum. Continue reading

Practical Makes Perfect: Preaching in the African-American Tradition

Theology isn’t exactly renowned for being practical. You know those ads on TV for trade schools? They plug programs for electricians, nurses, dental assistants. But not theology (“I was sitting at home on the couch, enrolled in school to study theology and then – BAM! – I got a great job and a great life!”). Now, I’d take issue with anyone who would accuse theology of being purely an Ivory Tower discipline but, well, most theology classes at Fuller take place on the third floor of Payton Hall, which actually looks literally like an ivory tower. But in an old double-wide* behind Coffee By the Books (Fuller’s cafe), I took a class that was totally a hands-on, get-ya-nails-dirty, practical class: “Preaching in the African-American Tradition” with Dr. Carolyn Gordon. Continue reading

Squiggly Lines Changed My Life

It never ceases to amaze me how a bunch of squiggly lines on a page can have such an earth-shattering effect on the observer. But such is the power of words and books. At seminary, there’s a lot of squiggly lines, but thankfully most of it is well worth the time, effort and money. So here are the five most formative books for me during my Fuller program, in the order that I read them:

Mañana: Christian Theology from a Hispanic Perspective – Justo L. Gonzalez

The most Hispanic we get in New Zealand is opening a  jar of store-bought guacamole, so I didn’t expect a book on Hispanic theology to resonate with me much. Continue reading

Christmas with Athanasius

In western culture, Christmas is the major holiday.
In evangelical theology, Easter is the major event.

Ironic, right? That, as a culture, we embrace Christmas with such festive gusto, yet we Christians tend to grow up majoring on Jesus’ death and resurrection, almost to the point of overlooking the incarnation. Sure, Easter is a thing for people – but not on the same scale as Christmas, which has been endlessly mythologized in modern times.

So it’s a strange thing, given our overwhelming preference for the Christmas season, that growing up I didn’t hear much about the incarnation. I mean, we were all thankful that Jesus showed up – that’s reason enough to celebrate Christmas – but we didn’t really have much more to say about the meaning of Christmas. But for me, that all changed when I read Athanasius of Alexandria.

Who? Continue reading

Big Thanks for a Big Seminary

I’m thankful for the fact that Fuller is big.

It’s an ugly thing to say, right? It’s a little embarrassing, like I’m acquiescing to the simplistic notion that bigger is better. Let me be clear up front: bigger, including in theological education, is not always better. There’s a lot to be said for smaller seminaries (check out Dr. Mouw’s thoughts on seminary size in his How to Choose a Seminary). But, personally, I like the BIG seminary experience. And with over 4000 students, Fuller is one of the biggest seminaries in the world. So here’s why I’m thankful for Fuller’s size: Continue reading

A Creative Oasis: Thoughts on the Theology and the Arts Emphasis

I never thought I’d go to seminary. I didn’t even particularly want to go to seminary. And yet here I am, a graduate of seminary. How did that happen? I blame Fuller’s Theology and the Arts (TA) emphasis. I was vaguely – repeat: vaguely – considering studying theology but, realistically, it was never going to happen. That is, until I saw that I could study theology and arts together at some place in America called “Fuller.” Long story, short: I applied to do an MA in Theology – Theology and the Arts emphasis, and I’m mighty pleased that I did.

How has doing the TA emphasis helped me? Continue reading

WARNING: Seminary May Be Dangerously Good for Your Health

As the never-ending disclaimers tagged onto the end of medical advertisements (international students: these American ads are totally bizarre – just one of the many things you have to look forward to living and studying in the US) testify, even the best medicine comes with a warning. Seminary is good medicine, but there are a few things that I think it pays to be aware of before you get started. Here’s my seminary warning label:

1. Brace yourself for Syllabus Shock. Continue reading

My Favorite Class: The Sundance Class

I can honestly say I never took a bad class at Fuller. Sure, some were better than others, but every class played some role in hammering and beating me into ever-so-slightly better shape than when I started. But there is one class that stands out from the rest. My favorite class at Fuller was…

TC588: ENGAGING INDEPENDENT FILMS  a.k.a. “The Sundance Class” Continue reading