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Introduction to the Dialog
by Christopher Wells

Igrew up in the Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI, and attended the Christian schools of that denomination through high-school. My father and mother, however, were low church Episcopalian and Lutheran by background, without a drop of Dutch blood between them, who furthermore had courted at Church of the Advent in Boston and become anglophiles over the course of years living in and around London. To complicate matters, we joined a progressive CRC congregation in the late 1970s, replete with weekly celebrations of Holy Communion and liturgical dance. In turn, I fell away from the Church while being radicalized in a year of community service in Boston after high-school, but subsequently made my way back to the Episcopal Church at college in the teeth of an intellectual conversion to the faith (Luther, Pascal, Dostoevsky, Eliot), plus nudges—theological and spiritual—from my ex-fundamentalist-but-still-evangelical Roman Catholic buddy. Somewhere along the way my idea of being a community organizer morphed into a possible vocation to study theology at the graduate level; and I resolved the possible tension between the two at divinity school when I realized that the ecclesiological turn of MacIntyre and Hauerwas could be completed by the ecumenical movement in both its parts—Faith & Order, Life & Work. The former urgency of Protestant ethics thus shifted for me, Lindbeck-like, to a pressing need to understand St. Thomas on the Trinity and the Eucharist; and a regular habit of prayer even helped me to begin making sense of St. Paul!—thence the Old Testament, thence St. Matthew’s gospel ... .


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