Friday, 14 October 2011

Fig leaf or bay leaf

I attended a clergy study morning on Thursday and was disappointed that most of the material covered was a straightforward summary of the basics of theological reflection with some case studies. Having spent the last ten years teaching ordinands and lay ministers how to engage in theological reflection I was beginning to despair of a wasted morning. However, in amongst the familiar there is usually some gold and it came in the form of a comment that resonated with me and I think several other participants. The speaker related an insight drawn from a particular experience about the use of the Christian tradition in theological reflection. She spoke about the need to move away from using the tradition as a fig leaf to using it as a bay leaf. In other words we should not use the tradition, in particular the Bible, to legitimise or justify our predetermined reflections but allow the tradition to infuse and flavour our reflections. An important reminder and an effective image, so the morning was not entirely wasted. The session ended with an excellent Shepherd's Pie for lunch, though I'm not sure if it was flavoured with a bay leaf.

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