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Thinking Theologically offers concepts, tools and theories for accompanying people on their journey to God. Showcasing practical resources that have been largely overlooked in theological formation, these courses provision church leaders in relevant approaches to everyday faith. Consisting of teachings, exercises and small group discussions, each of the courses has practical applications to personal faith, church leadership and congregational development, including preaching and pastoral care. Thinking Theologically invites church leaders on a sojourn of personal renewal and professional development.

All courses are held via Zoom.

Meet the Course Leader

Courses will be led by Rev. Rodney Aist, PhD. Rodney grew up in the First UMC of Warrensburg, Missouri, where he received his call to ministry as a teenager. An ordained elder in the New Mexico Annual Conference, he has served Christian communities in Arkansas, Scotland, Jerusalem, Italy and the Navajo Nation. A Holy Land scholar with a focus on Christian pilgrimage, past and present, Rodney directs a Doctor of Ministry program in pilgrimage and spirituality at Drew Theological School in New Jersey. His recent publications include Jerusalem Bound: How to be a Pilgrim in the Holy Land (2020) and Pilgrim Spirituality: Defining Pilgrimage Again for the First Time (forthcoming). 

Rodney received his MDiv from Duke Divinity School and has a MA in Celtic Christianity and a PhD in theology from the University of Wales. His travels include an around-the-world pilgrimage and the Camino de Santiago. He is an associate of the Iona Community and a writer for Iona Books (Wild Goose Publications). He lives in Milan with his wife, Janet.

Available Courses

The Hero’s Journey: Pathways of Transformative Experience

Describing pathways of transformative experience, the Hero’s Journey is a set of principles for living, a handbook for life and a manual in the art of being human. Set forth by Joseph Campbell as a way of reading myths, past and present, the Hero’s Journey has been adapted and revised, mostly notably by Christopher Vogler, whose Writer’s Journey has become the sacred text of Hollywood screenwriters. Heroes, which include common people, are summoned on a journey, face trials and challenges, sacrifice and suffer, and emerge as wiser, more virtuous figures.

In this four-part series, we will journey with the hero from the ordinary world to the special world and home again, exploring life experiences, such as callings, thresholds, ordeals, rewards and return. On the way, we’ll meet mentors, allies, and threshold guardians, heralds, shadows, and tricksters. The Hero’s Journey offers language, patterns and archetypes for interpreting individual and communal narratives. From film buffs and travelers to pastors, chaplains and spiritual directors, the series offers a sojourn of personal renewal and professional development. Following Vogler’s easy-to-read book, the series will rely heavily on small group discussions.

Session 1: From the Ordinary World to the Approach of the Innermost Cave
Session 2: Ordeals, Rewards, and Return
Session 3: Mentors, Shadows, and Allies: The Archetypes of the Hero’s Journey
Session 4: Betwixt and Between: Applications of Liminoid Experience

View course information, including recommended readings and session descriptions

Cost: $40

Fall Option 1:
10:00–11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays, September 21, September 28, October 5 and October 12, 2021
Registration closes September 17


Fall Option 2:
10:00–11:30 a.m. on Wednesdays,
October 6, 13, 20 and 27, 2021
Registration closes October 1

Limit: 15 participants course option

The Exploratory Function of Metaphors

Have you ever metaphor that you didn’t like? Or, tried to describe the inexplicable Other? We know that we speak metaphorically, but how do metaphors function? What’s at stake in the use and neglect of our religious language? How can we create better metaphors for interpreting the world and exploring the Christian life? This three-part series focuses on metaphorical theory as a theological tool. It has direct application for preaching, Bible study, pastoral care and congregational formation.

Session 1: Juliet is the Sun: The Incremental Theory of Metaphor
Session 2: The Inexplicable Other: Metaphors and Religious Language
Session 3: Life is a Journey: Conceptual Metaphors

View course information, including recommended readings and session descriptions

Cost: $30

Fall Option:
10:00–11:30 a.m. on Mondays,
November 1, 8 and 15, 2021
Registration closes October 27


Limit: 30 participants course option


Home and Away: A Christian Theology of Place

“There is a day when the road neither comes nor goes and the way is not a way but a place” (Wendell Berry). With some recent exceptions, a Christian theology of place has been much neglected. We live in an age that favors time and space over place, and the doctrine of God’s omnipresence has tended to view place in universal terms. The incarnation tells a different story. God embraces the particular, and the particularity of place mediates our relationship with God. This three-part series takes a nuanced approach to sacred places, explores the theological distinctions between space and place, and discusses the spirituality of differentiated places. Emphasizing the embodied nature of the Christian life, the series presents language, theories and concepts that resonate with our modern-day journey of faith.

Session 1: Space, Place, and the Sacred
Session 2: The Spirituality of Differentiated Places
Session 3: Mental Maps and the Proximate Other

Course information, including recommended readings and session descriptions, coming soon.

Cost: $30

Spring Option:
10:00–11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays,
February 8, 15 and 22, 2022

Registration coming soon


Limit: 30 participants course option



Questions? Contact Jenny Gragg at