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About the Spencer Library

The Spencer Library participates in the mission of the seminary by maintaining a core collection that:

  • supports the curriculum of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.
  • supports the pedagogy and scholarship of the seminary’s faculty.
  • is representative of the breadth of religious, philosophical, and theological thought and practice, with primary emphasis on Christian traditions.
  • provides access to the wider universe of information resources through networking and the utilization of new research tools in print and electronic formats as they can be made available.
  • provides instruction to individuals and classes on the use of the library and its resources.
  • serves as a resource for the life-long education and ongoing formation of clergy, laity and others in the wider community.

The Spencer Library was formed from the merging of two collections at the founding of United Theological Seminary in the early 1960s; Mission House Theological Seminary and Yankton School of Theology.  

Current collection stats:

  • 50,000 print books 
  • 90+ periodical subscriptions
  • 22,000 eBook titles 
  • 60+ online databases

An active member of the Minnesota Theological Library Association (MTLA), the five participating seminary libraries comprise the largest collection of theological and religious materials between Chicago and the West Coast.  

 
DALE DOBIAS  is a graduate of United Seminary ('89).  After receiving an M.A. in Library and Information Studies (UW-Madison '90), he returned to work in the library as the Technical Services Librarian in charge of cataloging, collection maintenance, and library automation.  After recently moving the library to its new home his focus is on improving the library's online presence and continually improving service to the Spencer Library's patrons.  
QUINN the WONDER PUG yeah, 'nuff said ...

 

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New Books in the Library

Whole Church

The Whole Church offers congregational leaders an understanding of a church system as a whole community composed of interacting members in which change in one influences all. This understanding helps church leaders navigate change and conflict, while also supporting the congregation's wholeness and safety. This book addresses how effective leadership coincides with personal and spiritual development, and ultimately emphasizes the significance of one's own spirituality and faith in supporting and fulfilling the congregation's mission.

Money, Greed, and God 10th Anniversary Edition

A prominent scholar reveals the surprising ways that capitalism is actually the best way to follow Jesus's mandates to alleviate poverty and protect our earth. Christianity generally sees capitalism as either bad because it causes much of the world's suffering, or good because God wants you to prosper and be rich. But there is a large, growing audience of evangelical and mainline Christians who are deeply uneasy about how to follow Jesus's mandate to care for the poor and the environment while living with the excesses of capitalism. Now, a noted Christian scholar argues that there is a middle view that reveals Christianity cannot only accommodate capitalism, but Christian theology can help explain why capitalism works. By highlighting the most common myths committed by Christians when thinking about economics, such as "capitalism is based on greed and over consumption" or "if someone becomes rich that automatically means someone else will become poor," Money, Guilt, and God equips readers to take practical steps in their own lives to conduct business, worship God, and serve others without falling into the "prosperity gospel" trap.

Pagan and Earth-Centered Voices in Unitarian Universalism

These 22 essays by some of the most prominent leaders in Unitarian Universalist Paganism bring Pagan and Earth-centered theo/alogy to life for a new generation. Featuring the writings of both clergy and laypeople, this vibrant collection demonstrates the many expressions of nature-based spirituality and the ways they feed the souls of so many. The essayists describe a broad array of practices, including Wiccan traditions, Neo-Pagan rituals and celebrations, worship of the divine feminine, and nature-based beliefs and practices that bring us into harmony and balance with our natural environment. Contributors also describe the development of nature-based theo/alogy within Unitarian Universalism including the organization of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, the addition of the sixth Source to the UUA bylaws recognizing Earth-centered spirituality, and the integration of Pagan practices into congregational life.

Whose Religion Is Christianity?

Many historians of religion now recognize that Christianity is a global faith whose most vibrant expression and growth are found today in the non-Western world. But no one explores this reality and its implications for modern life with the depth of learning and personal insight of Lamin Sanneh. This book is unique in the literature of world Christianity, not least for its novel structure. Sanneh's engaging narrative takes the form of a self-interview in which he asks questions about the cross-cultural expansion of Christianity and provides insightful answers and meaningful predictions about the future. This technique also allows Sanneh to track developments in world Christianity even while giving attention to the responses and involvement of indigenous peoples around the world. Sanneh's own background and lifelong involvement with non-Western cultures bring a richness of perspective not found in any other book on world Christianity. For example, Sanneh highlights what is distinctive about Christianity as a world religion, and he offers a timely comparison of Christianity with Islam's own missionary tradition. The book also gives pride of place to the recipients of the Christian message rather than to the missionaries themselves. Indeed, Sanneh argues here that the gospel is not owned by the West and that the future of the tradition lies in its "world" character. Literate, relevant, and highly original, Whose Religion Is Christianity? presents a stimulating new outlook on faith and culture that will interest a wide range of readers.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Public theology is an increasingly important area of theological discourse with strong global networks of institutions and academics involved in it. Elaine Graham is one of the UKâe(tm)s leading theologians and an established SCM author. In this book, Elaine Graham argues that Western society is entering an unprecedented political and cultural era, in which many of the assumptions of classic sociological theory and of mainstream public theology are being overturned. Whilst many of the features of the trajectory of religious decline, typical of Western modernity, are still apparent, there are compelling and vibrant signs of religious revival, not least in public life and politics - local, national and global. This requires a revision of the classic secularization thesis, as well as much Western liberal political theory, which set out separate or at least demarcated terms of engagement between religion and the public domain. Elaine Graham examines claims that Western societies are moving from âe~secularâe(tm) to âe~post-secularâe(tm) conditions and traces the contours of the âe~post-secularâe(tm): the revival of faith-based engagement in public sphere alongside the continuing âe" perhaps intensifying âe" questioning of the legi¬timacy of religion in public life. She argues that public theology must rethink its theological and strategic priorities in order to be convincing in this new âe~post-secularâe(tm) world and makes the case for the renewed prospects for public theology as a form of Christian apologetics, drawing from Biblical, classical and contemporary sources.

The Spirituality of Imperfection

I Am Not Perfect is a simple statement of profound truth, the first step toward  understanding the human condition, for to deny your essential imperfection is to deny yourself and your own humanity. The spirituality of imperfection, steeped in the rich traditions of the Hebrew prophets and Greek thinkers, Buddhist sages and Christian disciples, is a message as timeless as it is  timely. This insightful work draws on the wisdom stories of the ages to provide an extraordinary wellspring of hope and inspiration to anyone thirsting for spiritual growth and guidance in these troubled times. Who are we? Why so we so often fall short of our goals for ourselves and others? By seeking to understand our limitations and accept the inevitably of failure and pain, we being to ease the hurt and move toward a greater sense of serenity and self-awareness. The Spirituality Of Imperfection brings  together stories from many spiritual and philosophical paths, weaving past traditions into a  spirituality and a new way of thinking and living that works today. It speaks so anyone who yearns to find meaning within suffering. Beyond theory and technique, inside this remarkable book you will find a new way of thinking, a way of living that enables a truly human existence.

Creative Practices for Visual Artists

Contrary to popular belief, the practice of art isn¿t just a product of innate talent or artistic vision; artwork emerges from an intentionally constructed and maintained artistic practice. Developed from interviews with more than 75 mid-career artists, Creative Practices for Visual Artists examines the methods and approaches highly successful artists use to stay creatively robust for a lifetime. Offering practical strategies and concrete solutions, it also looks at the impacts of digital and social media, as well as recent changes in the educational system that can hinder the formation of a strong artistic practice. Artist and educator Kenneth Steinbach addresses key issues such as: the role of embodied research and non-objective experimentation; reframing one's approach to studio time; forms of productive conflict; the positive role of anxiety; and the importance of failure for the artist. The book will be useful to students and emerging artists, the instructors that teach them, and established artists looking to develop stronger studio habits. The companion website, www.creativepracticesbook.com, provides links to artists' websites and further information.¿

The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple

How do historical and literary details contribute to a coherent theological witness to Jesus in the Gospel of John? A leading British evangelical New Testament scholar answers that question with studies on themes from messianism to monotheism, symbolic actions from foot-washing to fish-catching, literary contexts from Qumran to the Hellenistic historians, and figures from Nicodemus to "the beloved disciple" to Papias. Originally published in various journals and collections, these essays are now available for the first time in one affordable volume with a substantial new introduction that ties them all together. A must-have for serious students of the Fourth Gospel.

How to Read Churches

Small enough to fit in a pocket yet serious enough to provide real answers, this primer is a must-have for architecture and history buffs, tourists, and churchgoers interested in decoding the styles and symbols of religious buildings. Every building contains clues embedded in its design that identify not only its architectural style but also who designed it, what kind of congregation it was built for, and why. This practical yet charming handbook is the key to decoding the style, history, evolution, and social significance of religious buildings. Not strictly limited to churches, it also covers abbeys, chapels, and monasteries, among other structures. Organized according to architectural element (windows, domes, arches, etc.), each element is presented in chronological order. Additional chapters explore the architectural influence of geography, history, and various creeds, along with an illustrated timeline showing how, where, and in many cases why certain church features evolved through the centuries. There is also a useful introduction to naming each component of a church, from vaults to buttresses and transepts to apses. All entries are illustrated with period engravings and line drawings. This book will be invaluable for architecture buffs and anyone who has ever wondered why classic New England churches are white with little ornament, why Quaker meetinghouses have no altars, or why Episcopalians traditionally favored the Gothic style.

Pastoral Theology in an Intercultural World

In today's world the challenge of care is how to respond to people's emotional as well as their economic circumstances. How can we be respectful of the individual and the community in ways that affirm both? How are we to live respectfully with difference and ambiguity? Where shall we find our models of life and care from--the dominant Western or else some kind of global perspective that includes indigenous knowledge? In our theologies do we continue to privilege the study of abstract, conceptual theory or do we give place to pragmatic, aesthetic, and nonverbal forms? In the face of increasing extremism, terrorism, and violence, is it possible to make a sensible choice between radical relativism and absolute essentialism? Are we to be drawn towards the various expressions of religion or to the opportunities and ambiguities of spirituality as it is called upon in many societies today? With the scarce resources available or allocated to health care in many national budgets across the world, shall we give greater attention to the eradication of disease through increasingly advanced technologies and therapeutic strategies or to the promotion of health through primary health care and public health education? Pastoral Theology in an Intercultural World presents practical theological resources for the broad vision, deep passion, and thoughtful action needed for pastoral care in the twenty-first century.

Love the Sin

In this powerful and timely book, Janet R. Jakobsen and Ann Pellegrini make a solid case for loving the sinner and the sin. Rejecting both religious conservatives' arguments for sexual regulation and liberal views that advocate tolerance, the authors argue for and realistically envision true sexual and religious freedom in this country. With a new preface addressing recent events, Love the Sinprovides activists and others with a strong tool to use in their fight for freedom.

Moving Beyond Individualism in Pastoral Care and Counseling

Despite astute critiques and available resources for alternative modes of thinking and practicing, individualism continues to be a dominating and constraining ideology in the field of pastoral psychotherapy and counseling. Philip Rieff was one of the first to highlight the negative implications of individualism in psychotherapeutic theories and practices. As heirs and often enthusiasts of the Freudian tradition of which Rieff and others are critical, pastoral theologians have felt the sting of his charge, and yet the empirical research that McClure presents shows that pastoral-counseling practitioners resist change. Their attempts to overcome an individualistic perspective have been limited and ineffective because individualism is embedded in the field's dominant theological and theoretical resources, practices, and organizational arrangements. Only a radical reappraisal of these will make possible pastoral counseling practices in a post-individualistic mode. McClure proposes several critical transformations: broadening and deepening the operative theologies used to guide the healing practice, expanding the role of the pastoral counselor, reimagining the operative anthropology, reclaiming sin and judgment, nuancing the particular against the individual, rethinking the ideal outcome of the practices, and reimagining the organizational structures that support the practices. Only this level of revisioning will enable this ministry of the church to move beyond its individualistic limitations and offer healing in more complex, effective, and socially adequate ways.