“Midway upon the journey of our life I found that I was in a dusky wood; for the right path, whence I had strayed, was lost. Ah me! How hard a thing it is to tell the wildness of that rough and savage place, the very thought of which brings back my fear! So bitter was it, death is little more so: but that the good I found there may be told, I will describe the other things I saw.” Inferno Canto I
My research and professional interests focus on issues in theological studies and the cultural reception of the Bible. Like early Christians theologians, my theology is dependent on the texts and traditions from the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. To be honest, I am interested in everything having to do with religion, but the singular guiding principle that undergirds my studies is the investigation of sources that inculcate richness in Christian life. Sources that discourage this key aspect of Christian identity (and the Gospel proclamation) hold a key status in my reflections. I’m also captivated by the ways that different communities (religious or not) interpret the Bible. Catholic and Protestant interpretations help me negotiate intrareligious dialogue (see: ecumenism), and differences between Christian and Jewish interpretation informs a healthy interreligious perspective. Studying these differences creates fruitful sources for theology. Studying the relationship between systematic theology and sacred Scripture allows me to engage with an interdisciplinary range of academic fields.
Studies on the theological viability of theodicy (i.e. responses to the “problem” of evil), religious sources of anti-Semitism, and problems in histories of Satan hold a special place as indispensable projects. Exegetical study of the Old Testament is an important part of my studies. Theologies of protest, lamentation, and paradigms of moral obligations make the Old Testament a library of texts that shakes the soul with beauty. Habakkuk, Ecclesiastes, and the Book of Job offer some of the best insights in this regard. I am very passionate about Christian theologies of the Hebrew Bible (often called “Old Testament Theology”), especially since I have come to believe that many of its historical problems are representative of Western theological disagreements.
“Human beings need to be solicitous and determined about the things they wish to remember, since the more something has been impressed on the mind, the less does it slip out of it.” – St. Thomas Aquinas
Besides my work in the classroom, private research, and preparation for the religious studies classroom, I spend my time attending to hobbies that are hopelessly related to my research interests in religion. Studying the Bible from an exegetical standpoint has become only one part of my research. I search for other areas of research that I can admire from afar. One of these projects that I spend my time exploring is the Digital Dante project at Columbia University. That I have had this broader interest in religion for so long is quite inexplicable to me, but I have made attempts to explain it in a small capacity.
Of course, I also spend time attending events at Vanderbilt and meeting with friends around Nashville. It’s wise to be well-rounded! I have recently tried to bring back my old interest in photography. It was something I did in high school (my concentration) and my first year of college, but my desire to focus on grades led to its decline and eventual removal from my list of priorities. I also have a collection of antique cameras (e.g. twin-lens reflex models and 35mm single-lens reflex cameras). Collecting them itself is a hobby, but I am pondering ways I can somehow unite my photography hobby with the practice of religious imagination.
“Learning to live out of control, learning to live without trying to force contingency into conformity because of our desperate need for security, I take to be a resource for discovering alternatives that would not otherwise be present.” – Stanley Hauerwas