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On the Road
Heather Grennan Gary

If you are a regular reader of the Cresset, chances are that you have marked in some way the quincentennial of the Reformation. Indeed, we cannot let this occasion pass without participating in some small way—namely, by recapping a conversation that took place at Valparaiso University in honor of the anniversary, and by providing reviews of several books that delve into the topic of the Reformation.

First-year students attended a panel discussion on October 31 that addressed what the Reformation means for us today. In their remarks, eight panelists, mostly recent alumni, highlighted themes at the heart of the Reformation: love, grace, freedom, and truth. Rather than focusing on these themes in the abstract, however, the speakers honed in on how these themes manifest themselves in their daily experiences, relationships, work, faith, and communities. The panelists’ insights reveal an appreciation for the Reformation that radiates throughout their lives. Turn to page four to read their remarks, and those of professors Ronald K. Rittgers and Thomas Albert Howard—two Reformation historians who have enriched the Valpo community’s commemoration of this anniversary with their scholarly expertise. (Among our Reformation-related book coverage is Xueying Wang’s review of Howard’s recent Remembering the Reformation: An Inquiry into the Meaning of Protestantism, which appears on page 26.)

This issue does contain a number of pieces that are not Reformation related. Truth be told, however, all of the Reformation content has me seeing reformation—with a lower-case “r”—throughout this issue, even where it is not intentional. Aimee Fritz’s review of The Year of Small Things, for example, describes how authors Sarah Arthur and Erin F. Wasinger handle their discontent over how they and their families had been living their faith. They make small, deliberate changes to try new ways of sharing the gospel and participating in its saving power. And in her essay, “The Tree Killers,” Rebekah Curtis recounts her tentative and somewhat squeamish first steps into forest management—an activity that, through the almost heretical action of killing trees, literally reforms the habitat of other woodland flora and fauna.

That may be a long way from Luther, so I’ll close with a favorite quote from the reformer that David Rojas Martínez shared in the Reformation panel discussion:

This life, therefore, is not righteousness; but growth in righteousness; not health, but healing; not being, but becoming; not rest, but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it. The process is not yet finished, but it is going on. This is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam, but all is being purified in glory.

The relevance of this quote extends beyond Reformation commemorations and into our observance of Advent. Both reformation and preparation require action. We are on the road; we are not yet what we shall be, but growing toward it.

 

                                                —HGG

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