Friday, February 15, 2013

Theological Librarianship Part 3

The last part of Herman Peterson's "Theological Librarianship as a Ministry" discusses the role of teaching for the theological librarian. Peterson argues that the "virtue to be cultivated by teachers, both in themselves and in their students, is wisdom" (242). He argues that "all librarians are educators" (243). Christ is the great example of a Christian teacher. Theological librarians are called to cultivate wisdom in its patrons. There are differences between wisdom, knowledge, and information. The highest goal for the religious believer is wisdom. Peterson states that the "appropriate use of the Memory of the Body of Christ requires no less than wisdom when approaching the texts contained therein, and theological librarians as stewards, should insist on this, but not without hospitality, of course" (243). Peterson is speaking of showing hospitality to patrons, but we can also show hospitality to texts.

 Librarians are often in an unique position as students are in the process of research. They can help students to find quality resources. They can teach the students the process of research and they are often available to the students when they are in the midst of research and they are encountering barriers to their research. They can serve as mentors to the student in the research process. In addition, theological librarians can encourage the students to pursue a deeper reading than shallow, surface reading. They can encourage students to pursue wisdom. In addition, they can help students to realize the mulch-layers of text. For example, they can encourage the medieval method of reading: literal, symbolical, and moral. Librarians can also encourage the "lectio divina."

Peterson draws from two books in this section: Mary Carruther's The Book of Memory and Paul Griffith's Religious Reading. Carruthers speaks of the Medieval form of reading. She speaks of the practice of meditating on the text. Many Christians are familiar with meditating on the scriptures, but this practice can also be done with other texts. This practice will help to transform our lives or form character within us. These ideas are applicable for theological resources. Theological librarians can encourage deeper reading.

Griffiths writes about religious reading: "Religious learning involves reading. [This type of reading is different than the typical reading done in schools]. Religious reading requires and fosters a particular set of attitudes to what is read, as well as reading practices that comport well with those attitudes . . ." (246). Theological librarians can teach patrons that different types of texts require different types of reading. They can show how religious reading can lead to spiritual transformation.

Peterson's article does a good job in showing that theological librarianship is a ministry. It is part of the work of advancing the kingdom of God. Theological librarians are stewards of the memory of Christ. They are servants or ministers to the body of Christ by making theological resources available for the body of Christ; and lastly they are teachers that try to cultivate wisdom in their patrons.

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