Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Theological Librarianship Part 2

In part 1 Herman Peterson sees the theological librarian as a steward of the memory of the body of Christ. The model he uses is stewardship. In the second part of "Theological Librarianship as a Ministry" he presents the theological librarian as serving the body of Christ "by serving its memory." He notes that "all ministry is a form of service." The servant model of theological librarianship is best shown by the virtue of hospitality. It is the kind of service that is available to all the members. Peterson looks at two sources for describing this model: Lucien Richard's book on hospitality and the Genesis account of Abraham serving his divine visitors.

Richards contends that some of the barriers in modern life are a "rampant individualism, consumerism, and materialism." The solution is Christian hospitality. Parker Palmer defines hospitality: "It means meeting the stranger's needs while allowing him or her simply to be, without attempting to make the stranger into a modified version of ourselves." Hospitality provides a home for a stranger. It provides a place where they feel accepted and welcomed.

Peterson believes Christian hospitality remains an important Christian virtue "because it is intimately connected with the love of God and neighbor." He cites Matthew 25 as support for this idea. What we do to the least of them we have done unto Jesus. Richards states, "The practice of hospitality to the stranger as advocated in Matthew 25 is not only as obvious ethical demand but also a hermeneutical principle of comprehension." I particularly like this point. We can practice hospitality with texts and people. We can show love to authors and the texts they have written. Richards argues that showing hospitality to the stranger is "central to the Christian vision and to Christian discipleship."

How does this apply to theological librarianship? Peterson believes that offering hospitality is a way to build the kingdom of God. Building the kingdom is a function of ministry. He notes, "The link between the Kingdom of God and the reception of the Kingdom in our lives is compassionate dedication to those in need." Christian love calls us to love all without distinction. We serve Christ when we serve the least of them.

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