“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 religious studies and theology. I particularly consider the relationships between sources of richness in religious sources and their exchange with the humanities. An interdisciplinary approach marks much of my personal research. Outside of systematic theology, I am interested in everything having to do with religion, but biblical studies has been an indispensable part of my research. The rejuvenation provided through theology’s mutual consultation with Scripture is a crucial aspect of my thought. Studying its relationship with systematic theology allows me to engage with a range of fields in religious studies.
Contemporary issues in biblical studies have been an incredibly formative part of my education. The cultural reception of the Bible has been a fascinating area of study for me. I love studying how biblical texts are employed in political dialogues. Ways that the Bible enhance literary depictions of famous characters like Frankenstein’s monster or Jekyll form a huge component of my research. Such literary depictions of the human condition offer keen insights that expose the tendons between theology and the humanities. The way modern writers integrate quotes and allusions to biblical imagery provide creative pathways and insights into how they have interpreted their cultural inheritance. Early Christian writers used Old Testament quotations as the backbone of their creative, theological formulations. Through my foray into biblical studies, I learned that “pre-critical” interpretive methodologies have much to teach people today. I greet these fields of study along with the way cultural insights from the ancient Near East enliven and clarify the theological formulations produced by the Christian tradition.
“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 my work in the classroom and private research, 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 scholarship that I can admire from afar. Of course, I also spend time attending events at Vanderbilt and meeting 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. 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 ponder ways to 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