“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 interests focus on human flourishing and its decay into spiritual death. I am fascinated by the Divine-human relationship and study Christology and theological anthropology. The content of Church tradition and theologies of Scripture are important for this approach because their individual and connective insight informs the symbol systems of Christianity. I explore how these sources relate to one another and how they participate in the formation of meaning. Studies of secularization and the subliminal use of theological concepts contribute to this interest. Drawing inspiration from early Christian theologians like St. Augustine of Hippo, I also consult theologies that dialogue with secular culture and critics of Christianity. These sources disclose contemporary ruminations on humanity’s forlorn condition and Godforsakenness, informing my contention that theology should more actively engage with the humanities. Augustinian-Thomist perspectives and the documents of Vatican II inspire my research on theology’s relationship to culture and, consequently, God’s relationship to humanity. The resources of the Catholic tradition interrogate modernity’s dismemberment of the supernatural and the process of disenchantment that diminishes our imagination. I endeavor to link sources of Catholic renewal with the soteriological needs of our present age.
Outside of systematic and historical theology, I am interested in everything having to do with religion. Contemporary issues in biblical studies have been an incredibly formative part of my education. The cultural reception of the Bible has also been a fascinating area of study. I love examining how biblical texts are employed in political dialogues as theo-political tools. The way that authors use the Bible to enhance literary depictions of their major thematic characters (like Frankenstein’s monster or Jekyll) contributes to this sensibility as well. Such literary depictions of the human condition offer keen insights that expose the tendons between theology and the humanities.
“Tradition is memory, and memory enriches experience. If we remembered nothing it would be impossible to advance…True tradition is not servility but fidelity.” Yves Congar, O.P.
Besides the endless piles of coursework and private projects, I spend my time attending to hobbies that are still hopelessly related to my research interests in religion. I search for other areas of scholarship that I can admire from afar. For example, human biology and the evolutionary history of the brain are fascinating. If I had another lifetime, I would definitely consider neuroscience or cognitive psychology. Of course, I also spend time attending events at Vanderbilt and relaxing with friends around Nashville. 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. Many of my hobbies are simply other ways for me to express my spiritual 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