Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Narrative of Place for the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

What follows is a proposal for a January term independent study at LTSP.  It's in preparation for the beginning of GreenFaith certification program for the campus.  I'd love to hear what you think and would love suggestions, especially in terms of my bibliography.  Thanks!

On October 4th, 1889 a new campus in Mount Airy was dedicated for the then twenty-five year old Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. As part of the day’s festivities, Reverend George H. Gergbending delivered a greeting to new seminary, of which the first stanza read:

      School of the prophets, hail!
      Removed to regions fair,
      We greet thee in thy bright, new home,
      Engirt with beauty rare.
      We greet thy buildings all!
      How beautiful they stand!
      Their turrets, walls, foundation stones,
      So nobly wrought and planned!

While still bright and beautiful, much has changed on the LTSP campus over the last 122 years. What was then a newly constructed dormitory is now our recently renovated Brossman Center. Instead of the Krauth Memorial Library, an old barn stood on the northwest side of campus. In 1889 spacious verandas still surrounded the former summer home of James Gowen, now known as the Hagan Center.

It is a proposition of this study that through many changes a “narrative of place” has been constructed by the women and men who lived, studied, worked and worshiped at LTSP. The land has a story, populated by a diverse cast of characters that includes nobly wrought buildings, an ancient now dying tree and a recently repainted statue. This story has a complex plot with a central problem: how can LTSP best serve the church, Christ’s body on earth. Like all good stories, this narrative of place affects all those who relate and contribute to it: what do the Caucasian depictions in the chapel windows tell to the prospective African-American student? What does the seminary’s playground tell to the many neighbors who use it? This study will ask how is a narrative of place constructed on the LTSP campus, what is that current narrative and how does it affect the faith life of those who encounter it.

The proposed study will be for one credit, with evaluation done through a thirty-page paper. Besides original research through interviews, reading the seminary’s self studies and review of historic materials in Rev. Dr. John Kaufmann’s old office, the following bibliography will inform this study:

Berry, Wendell. The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays, Cultural and Agricultural. San
Francisco: North Point Press, 1981.

Brueggemann, Walter. The Land: Place As Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith.
Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977.

Jarvis, Elizabeth Farmer. Mount Airy. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub, 2008.

Inge, John. A Christian Theology of Place. Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Ashgate, 2003.

Orsi, Robert A. Gods of the City Religion and the American Urban Landscape. Bloomington, IN:
Indiana University Press, 1999.

Pahl, Jon. Shopping Malls and Other Sacred Spaces: Putting God in Place. Grand Rapids, Mich:
Brazos Press, 2003.

Sheldrake, Philip. Spaces for the Sacred: Place, Memory, and Identity. Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 2001.

Tappert, Theodore G. History of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia: 1864-1964.
Philadelphia: The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, 1964.

No comments:

Post a Comment