Thursday, September 25, 2008

I've been tagged: My Spiritual Influences

Thanks to The Rev. Charles Lehmann at for tagging me with this question:
What five people, past or present, inspire your spiritual life? (From what I hear, the initial instructions for this meme say that Jesus is assumed and doesn't need to be listed. Luther also is if you are a Lutheran. ) These come in no particular order after the first one.

1. The Rev. Kim L. Scharff, my vicarage Bishop. He doesn't blog, and he barely participates online. However, he has been and continues to be a profound influence on my spiritual life. I was a somewhat lukewarm Lutheran before I started my vicarage. Under his tutelage, I found myself caring about theology, caring about liturgy, caring about something more than generic spirituality.

2. The Orthodox priest formerly known as the Rev. Dr. C. Robb Hogg--now known, I believe, as Fr. Gregory Hogg. Though I will never follow him across the Bosphorus into "Orthodoxy", Dr. Hogg as one of my seminary professors first kindled in me an interest beyond a vague curiosity in the Lutheran Confessions. It saddens me that he has since abandoned the confession that he defended so competently, and that he led so many away with him. However, I still have my notes from Confessions I, and I hope never to lose them.

3. The Rev. Dr. Harold Senkbeil. I've never had him as a professor, but his book Dying to Live: The Power of Forgiveness has had a profound influence on my life. I read this book at the same time that I was first reading Franz Pieper's Christian Dogmatics, and the fact that he made the faith so profoundly simple influenced my preaching and teaching as a pastor.

4. The Rev. John T. Pless. Another man I've never had as a professor, but his writings have had a significant influence on me. His focus on liturgy and pastoral care (and liturgy as pastoral care) has guided me as a parish pastor. (And I ask that no one blame him for my failures.) When I was a single man convinced that I would remain a single man, he encouraged me to believe that it would not stunt my ability to be a pastor to married people.

5. Deaconess Emily Carder. She drives me absolutely nuts sometimes. When we first encountered each other I wanted to smack her upside the head--maybe literally. However, she forced me to look deeper into things, to examine more closely what I was saying and the implications of what lurks beneath the surface of my words. Still drives me nuts, but I have a great deal of respect for her. And I wish I knew my languages as well as she does.

Honorable Mention: the Rev. Eric Swyres, the Rev. Drew Newman, the Rev. Dr. John Stephenson (though I ask you not to tell him--his head is already big enough), the Rev. Thomas K. Spahn (who was the first to instill in me a love for the liturgy).

I won't tag anyone, but feel free to share.

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