By way of quick introduction to WLT

11 Apr 2019

Today, I've spent most of the day configuring and styling this brand-new web site. While I am still working on more formal statement regarding this new ministry, I'd like to add a quick introduction here as a sort of teaser.

Three decades ago, in 1989, I developed a keen interest in Christianity as a middle schooler. I wasn't raised Christian, or for that matter, religious at all. One night, I came across a Christian radio station broadcasting from far away, carried over a long distance thanks to electromagnetic disruptions in the sky. I started attending a church in my neighborhood and began devouring literature and books on theology. I switched church a couple of times, but on March 24, 1991, I was baptized at a fundamentalist Baptist church.

Upon my baptism, the pastor proclaimed that I will be a messenger of the divine truth to the world. Though I am no longer a Baptist, or for that matter, don't necessarily consider myself a Christian, I have not forgotten this.

Ministry has been something I was interested in pursuing for a very, very long time. As a young adult, nearly all of my life revolved around one church or another, and this continued through early 2012. I attended an Evangelical Bible college in the past.

Briefly, I was in an ordained ministry from 2005 to 2007.

In 2010, I decided to go to a seminary for more in-depth theological studies.

But for most of this decade, I had been sidetracked and pursued other interests--which mostly functioned as a distraction, and accordingly, unfulfilling.

In the spring of 2018, I decided to return to ministry, but at the time, I did not have a clear idea as to how it would look like. I wasn't interested in a conventional church-based ministry. I've experienced how ugly church politics can be, and also, too much of what a church does (out of necessity, of course) is recruitment/marketing and fundraising. As a big introvert and someone on the autistic spectrum, I'm not cut out for that kind of work, and I freely admit to that fact.

However, this is what I can say:

  1. I'm a lifelong "theology geek."
  2. I love losing myself in the library shelves and in the stacks of academic journals.
  3. I've always been intrigued by the fine details of various theological streams, denominational belief systems, and how (and why) people believe and practice their faith.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that being a "theology geek" is exactly my contribution to the world.

I've spent a good majority of the 2010s in political activism and community organizing (in fact, activism became my idol). During those years I discovered that so much of American political discourse is rooted in religious beliefs, much to the chagrin of progressive secular humanists. Whether we like it or not, the United States is perhaps the most religious nation on Earth aside from the Islamic world. Religion and theology play an important role in public discourse and in shaping policy debates. Failing to understand (or choosing not to understand) this is why the nation is becoming more polarized to two extremes: on one side, conservatives who feel that their faiths and traditional ways of life are under grave threat, and on the other side, liberals who loathe conservatives as "backward" fundamentalists who are against the enlightened liberal order.

Yet, throughout the U.S. history, most of the major social movements were informed by religious beliefs and faith-based organizations: from slave abolition to Civil Rights, it was religious leaders who spoke as the conscience of the nation. Sadly, today this kind of spiritual leadership is lacking except among the far-right, whose obsessions seem to be solely focused on anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality, anti-transgender, and white nationalism.

At the same time, the Evangelicals and conservative Christians are notoriously inept at articulating why they believe what they believe (not just what or how) without resorting to proselytizing or apologetics. While apologetics is great for convincing prospective converts, it is rather counterproductive in promoting a respectful mutual understanding and bridge-building.

This vacuum is where Willow Loves Thexlogy! steps in.

The moniker "Willow Loves Theology!" was actually inspired by Dr. Joanne Manaster's "Joanne Loves Science." Like Joanne "the Science Goddess," I could be the least expected kind of person to be talking theology. With the same quirky and approachable style, Willow Loves Thexlogy! aims at making everyday people -- not just deeply-religious people -- understand theological process, theology's contribution to society, culture and politics, and even try their hands at "doing theology."

This ministry will develop into your resource for learning the basics of theology, how different religious traditions and organizations understand the universe and divinity, and theology vis-à-vis contemporary social topics.

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Willow

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