Monday, December 05, 2005


Assisi continues to be one of my favorite cities in the world. Medieval castle ruins, winding streets, friendly shopkeepers, and, of course, the spirit of St. Francis. The Giotto fresco cycle of Francis's life is breathtaking. Praying in the crypt below the lower basilica is a deeply spiritual experience. Climbing la Rocca Maggiore affords a fantastic view of the city.

But I must say that my most compelling memory of Assisi, and it happened again today, is the smell of wood smoke coming from chimneys in town. It is unmistakable and unforgettable.

This trip (I suppose it's my third or fourth to Assisi), I read Jon Sweeney's updated version of Paul Sabatier's classic biography of Francis. I've read several bios of Francis, and this is the best yet. It's been spurned by many Franciscans because it's written by a Protestant and because it claims that Francis was a forerunner of the Protestant Reformation. He also makes an interesting claim that when Francis asked for and received the blessing of Pope Innocent III for his band of brothers, he made a mistake -- by doing so, he became a part of the church, he was domesticated and used politically by Innocent, and he could no longer provide a valid critique of the church.

As always, the best meal in Italy is to be had at La Stalla -- the restaraunt in the barn up the hill from Assisi. Rustic bread grilled on an open fire and rubbed with garlic and olive oil, polenta spread on a board, sausages grilled on the same fire, and vino rosso della casa. Jim and I shared a table with two local Italian couples, one of which I struggled to communicate with. A true Umbrian experience.


Blogger Gregg Koskela said...

WAIT a minute...are those PICTURES on your blog? Is this slick multimedia making an appearance on Theoblogy?

Somebody check the thermometer in hell... :)

8:59 AM  
Blogger Andy Rowell said...

Dear Tony,

So sorry to bother you in Rome with this. I will be visiting the Philadelphia area with 25 senior Christian ministry students from Taylor University from Saturday January 7 to Friday January 13, 2006. I’m also thinking of visiting Princeton one of those days. I think it would great for our students to be able to meet with you for perhaps an hour and a half.

We read Read, Think, Pray, Live as a textbook in our Teaching and Learning Strategies class this fall. A number of the students have read Postmodern Youth Ministry for classes as well. I’ve also been following Theoblogy for a while. We're planning on visiting Princeton either Thurs Jan 12 or Fri Jan 13.

Our students will be on a two-week trip through Philadelphia and Pittsburgh being exposed to different ministries and the philosophies behind those ministries. During the spring semester, they will be writing a 50-page philosophy of ministry paper. This trip begins to prepare the students for that. They are also searching vocationally for God's will for their lives. Because of this, I would love if you would share with our students about your vocational journey.

“Why do you what you do? What experiences, insights, people, and books were pivotal for shaping who you are? What is your philosophy of ministry? Please feel free as well to share any models or visual relating to this."

Seeing the exams you have been taking for practical theology, I realize you are knee deep in philosophy of ministry stuff but it would be great to just hear your general personal off-the-cuff thoughts. It would be great to hear about seminary, working as a youth pastor, writing, deciding to do the Ph.D., Emergent involvement and administration, etc. It would be excellent for the students to be exposed to a leaders such as yourself. Furthermore, my colleagues – J.R. Kerr, teaching pastor at North Way Christian Community in Wexford, PA, and my wife Amy – also a professor Christian ministry – think it would be great to get to meet you as well!

The proposed honorarium is $100. I don't expect you to prepare. Just to be with you and have you share with us extemporaneously would be great.

Do you think we could work it out to meet with you at perhaps 10:00 am or 1:00 pm one of those days or some other time? If it worked out, we would also be thrilled to share a lunch or dinner at a local restaurant or fast-food place with you before or after our hour and a half together.

Thanks so much for considering this request. May the Lord continue to use you in wonderful ways.


Andy Rowell
Visiting Instructor of Christian Educational Ministries
Taylor University
Office: 765.998.4385

7:01 AM  
Blogger EL MOL said...

I just picked myself off the floor and without any fan fare or anything this blog has instantly become legit with the pictures


4:47 PM  
Anonymous Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

Ah, Italy... Land of my forefathers and I've never made it there. Alas!

Out of curiousity, is there a reason you don't keep a blogroll here? I'd be curious as to who you follow online.


7:06 AM  
Blogger suburbanjesus said...

love the pics. images are so pomo. can't wait to see you at journey in january.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Jeff S. said...


I have a question for you. What to think of IVP's Acient Christain Commentary on Scripture? I have it and I love it, it is so rich with thought and early theology that it has become one of my main resources for my ministry. Just wanted your thought on it.


7:52 AM  
Blogger FrogJD2 said...

I found myself surfing Youth Specialties website and came across this (I sat in on your debate w/ Duffy in Nashville, as well as the late night theology discussion)....

I must say, I was a bit frustrated by the lack of theology, and over abundance of opinions, during the late-nite discussion. Though it was engaging none the less. Thank you.

Your book Soul Shaper is an awesome tool--is it any different than Sacred Way other than by appearance? I wish to dig deeper into Solitude and Fasting in my spiritual journey--any suggestions??

11:24 AM  
Blogger soupablog said...

tony - paul soupiset here. don't know if you're checking email remotely, but you'll have art waiting for you when you do :)

6:36 PM  
Blogger Scot McKnight said...

My favorite place on earth.
But, for me the highlight is the Portiuncola in the middle of St Mary of the Angels down in the Umbrian valley.

7:00 PM  

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