This has been a busy summer for me!
Just to fill you in, I've been working three jobs: a job at the mailroom at Princeton Seminary, at the Princeton Institute for Youth Ministry, and for Hopewell Presbyterian Church (I'm sorta their "Summer Pastor," doing pastoral care and preaching for the Summer while their Pastor is on sabbatical). I'm also doing some writing... not on the blog, obviously... My good friend, Dr. Erin Raffety, and I have been writing an article on Youth Ministry and Ethnography (fun stuff!!!). And on top of all that, I'm trying to study for the GRE (a test I have to take in order to apply for PhD programs, ugh.)... Oh, I am also husband and a father of a high-energy toddler...
Yeah. It's been busy.
I hope that explains why I haven't been blogging as much lately.
The question that's raised for me in all of this is, "what's the use of maturity?" If what we're after are certain qualities that are often associated with adulthood but are also indigenous to childhood and adolescence--qualities such as agency, courage, and morality--then why don't we just talk about those and leave maturity out of it? Why do we have to cast our cultural critiques in implicitly pejorative references to adolescence and childhood? Why bother with maturity if what we really want is for people to be good? Any child... indeed also any person who has disabilities which preclude them from the "normal" processes of maturation... can be courageous (indeed, they are almost certainly MORE courageous). Any child can act upon their reality to make it better and more harmonious (some call it playing). Any teenager can make empathic moral decisions. Why do we place these qualities on a scale of advancement, especially one that so often implies chronological advancement? Why grow-up, indeed?
I'm afraid that our notions of maturity only serve to obscure the actual content of human experience... and this is especially disconcerting to me as a practical theologian because I believe that God is part of that content. And if that's true, then what we're obscuring when we obscure people's experience is the God whom they are experiencing and thus the ways in which we can participate in God's action... we're obscuring ministry itself!
This is what's on my mind. Hopefully, I'll have more thoughts on this stuff (and thoughts on Neiman's book) in the next few weeks.