"The Triumph of St. Thomas"I realize that I have not, as of yet, succeeded in what I had hoped to do, which is blog regularly.  I think a great place to begin rectifying that reality is recognizing that today is the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas. Thomas is one of the most shining examples of the deep relationship between theology and liturgy, as one who wrote some of the most enduring theological works in history, all of which came in the midst of being deeply formed by the liturgical life of the church, especially the Eucharist. Thanks be to God for St. Thomas.

One way that Thomas regularly helps to shape my life as a Christian is that I regularly use his “Prayer Before Study” from The Aquinas Prayer Book before a Bible study I lead at the church I serve, and I thought I would share that today in honor of Thomas:

Ineffable Creator,
Who, from the treasures of Your wisdom,
have established three hierarchies of angels,
have arrayed them in marvelous order
above the fiery heavens,
and have marshaled the regions
of the universe with such artful skill,

You are proclaimed
the true font of light and wisdom,
and the primal origin
raised high beyond all things.

Pour forth a ray of Your brightness
into the darkened places of my mind;
disperse from my soul
the twofold darkness
into which I was born:
sin and ignorance.

You make eloquent the tongues of infants.
Refine my speech
and pour forth upon my lips
the goodness of Your blessing.

Grant to me
keenness of mind,
capacity to remember,
skill in learning,
subtlety to interpret,
and eloquence in speech.

May You
guide the beginning of my work,
direct its progress,
and bring it to completion.

You Who are true God and true Man,
Who live and reign, world without end.


I thought it might be good in the first post to explain both the origin of my username “shrove,” as well as the title of my blog, “Unapologetic Doxology.”  This in some sense seems contrary to title of the of the blog, since I am essentially giving an apology for how I came up with the name.  Nevertheless, I suspect it will be helpful.


“Shrove” comes from the name of one of my favorite times in the Christian year, Shrove Tuesday.  It is true that this particular celebration is an extremely minor celebration relative to the rest of the church year, but for many years it has become one of the highlights of the Christian year for me.  At  the base, there is just something I love about having pancakes for dinner in combination with the Church’s calendar.

dv1897072Shrove Tuesday originated in the Anglican Church, and it bears some relationship to Mardi Gras.  In each case there is a certain amount of “getting it all out” the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the day that the more sacrificial and penitential season of Lent begins.  “Shrove” refers to “shriving” off (confessing) our sins during the season of Lent.  In the case of Shrove Tuesday, English folks would use up all of their eggs, milk, and sugar before Lent began, often by making Pancakes.  Mardi Gras in places like France, as we are well aware, is quite a bit more raucous.

I realize I am expressing this difference simplistically, but, after all, this is only a blog.  You can get the extensive info from this wikipedia article.  I don’t recommend wikipedia for most information, but I think the wikipedia article is reliable in this case.  In any case, my love for this particular day of the year inspired me to try it out as a username, and to my surprise it wasn’t taken.

What is wonderful about Shrove Tuesday is that it is an opportunity for churches to get together and eat (which is always a good thing), and it is another opportunity to mark the change into the Lenten season.  At Heritage UMC, where I am the associate pastor, we’ll be offering this meal for free, with donations accepted towards the Heritage UMC Young Adult group’s mission fund.

Unapologetic Doxology

The title of the blog is a combination of two theological books whose titles I particularly enjoy.  “Unapologetic” comes from William C. Placher’s book Unapologetic Theology.  I enjoy that book because Placher’s work is a helpful in looking at the way in which apologetics do not often work, since the Christian life is a worldview, a narrative, that is in many ways untranslatable until one becomes a part of the story, takes up the practices, and has that story and those practices shape their life.

Doxology is the title of Geoffrey Wainwright’s systematic theology book.  His systematic theology is guided by doxology, our praise to God, as the string that runs throughout Christianity shaping theology and the transmission of the faith.  Worship is the place in which all of our beliefs and practices are formed before we go out into the world, and it is to worship that we return for nourishment and formation .  I am a big fan of his, and I had the good fortune that he directed my ThM thesis.

“Unapologetic Doxology” therefore comes from my affinity for both of their work, and my firm belief, that in most cases we cannot argue other people into belief.  They have to be caught up into the story, in the practices that will then shape their experiences, leading them always to return to God with praise and thanksgiving.