The following is a brief introduction and summary of some of my academic work.
It includes papers written for graduate courses and papers presented at academic conferences.
For more information about any of these resources please contact me.
"no being will remain outside the number of the saved":
apokatastasis in the thought of gregory of nyssa
This paper serves to demonstrate the orthodox and theologically generative vision of universal reconciliation articulated by Gregory of Nyssa known as apokatastasis. Nyssa's integrative theological reflections are explored by briefly tracing this overarching theme through Gregory's anthropological, Christological, soteriological, and eschatological commitments. This paper includes a brief exploration of Nyssa's self-differentiation from the condemned (though not without controversy!) teachings of Origen. Finally, some reflections on what we learn from Gregory about theological methodology, interpretive diversity and difference, and the place of Scripture in theological reflection.
"o lord, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt": John calvin and the distortion of the non-repentant psalms of lament
This paper is an exploration of what I term the non-repentant psalms of lament. These lament psalms do not necessarily claim "innocence" (though some do), but merely have an absence of a concession of guilt (that the psalmist is a sinner) or of confession (that the psalmist repents of their sin). These psalms constitute a full tenth of the Psalter and are mysteriously absent within the Revised Common Lectionary. Despite the actual content of these non-repentant psalms of lament, Calvin in his commentaries on the psalms stretches and sometimes even tortures the text to find one of two reasons for such a lament: A failure of ethics (our own sinfulness) or a failure of faith (our lack of belief and trust in God). After a thorough exploration of five of these psalms I conclude with some brief reflections on the tension that this creates within Calvin's own work on the Psalms and the historical consequences of this kind of interpretive bias in the Godescalc Evangelistary (which later influences what becomes the Revised Common Lectionary) and its impact on the Tradition. Finally, I conclude by articulating three areas which are in need of additional research concerning the theological and pastoral problems created by the removal of canonical language of innocent suffering.
trauma-informed methodology: a theological cartography of text and community
This methodological paper proposes a kind of hermeneutical posture and practice that seeks to bridge the gap between the academy and the church in a way that reorients the way that ecclesial communities both read and embody the biblical text. This construction is a response to the perceived systemic deficiencies in other interpretive paradigms while drawing on the strengths of a deep diversity of interpretive approaches and methodologies. This methodology is informed by the cartographic metaphor and is also explored in connection with the taxonomy of (wounded) narratives explored in Arthur W. Frank's The Wounded Storyteller. The theological cartography of text and community occurs within three non-linear movements: The cartography of the text, entrance into the map of the text in discerning characters and agency (which includes the discernment of the text as revelatory or revisionary), and the ecclesial turn (in which the first two movements are reflected on towards an appropriate embodiment). This paper concludes with some brief notes about the fluidity and perpetuity of this methodology and its implications for the ongoing and evolving identity and practices of ecclesial communities.
without history there is no future: digital humanities, theological ethnography, and the future of christian history
Presented at the 2015 Christian College Librarians Conference.
This presentation offers a constructive proposal about the interdisciplinary possibilities of digital humanities, theological ethnography, and religious history. In light of a previous presentation on the War on Pacifism in Churches of Christ during World War I (in which I aided in the research and presentation), I helped participants to explore ways in which digital humanities can aid in the important nuancing of historical and archival work in religion. This capacity of digital humanities was illustrated by employing social media data about the geographic distribution of content on Twitter to nuance articulations of the "national" reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. A brief introduction to the contours of theological ethnography served as a bridge in which digital humanities is made both accessible and necessary in religious studies. I propose a way for these two disciplines to nuance and clarify shifts in doctrine and practice. A contrast between the the usage of two biblical texts, Romans 15:7 and 1 Corinthians 1:10 in Thomas Campbell's 1809 Declaration and Address and Foy E. Wallace's 1950-1970 The Gospel Guardian served as a model for employing digital humanities to trace the development of doctrine and therefore the history (and future) of religion.
trauma-informed ecclesiology: the embodied life and practices of the church in the midst of trauma and human suffering
Presented at the 2015 Christian Scholar's Conference.
The Christian tradition has a long history of responding to questions raised by the inescapable reality of human suffering, and the attenuating questions about free will, moral agency, and the eschatological destiny of humanity. Emerging understandings of the psychological and physiological consequences of trauma and human suffering problematize these areas of theological reflection. This paper proposes an initial sketch of a Trauma-Informed Ecclesiology in which embodied practices and language seek to create an environment focused on the redemption of the body in history as part of the larger ongoing life and witness of the church. This theological construction is given shape by a more nuanced and robust articulation of the complexities of free will, the fragility of moral agency, and orthodox reflection on the ultimate eschatological triumph of the love of God.
upon the children and the children's children, to the third and fourth generation: a post-shoah reading of exodus 34:6-7
This paper briefly sketches the postures and commitments of a post-Shoah reading of biblical texts. This reading sensitivity, which refuses to operate as a structured methodology, is influenced particularly by reflection on the art of Samuel Bak, the writings of Emmanuel Levinas, the BBC film God on Trial, and the "gray zones" in the writings of Primo Levi. This framework is then applied to one of the fundamental texts of the Hebrew Bible, Exodus 34:6-7, with its important secondary claim, "et by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children, and the children's children, to the third and fourth generation." After surveying a number of traditional readings of this text I present a brief introduction to the emerging literature of trans-generational trauma and ask a fundamental question: Does God punish the children for the sins done to their parents?
the silencing of the voice of dissent: the intolerance of diversity and the collapse of "error" and "heresy" in churches of christ
Presented at the 2013 Stone-Campbell Journal Conference.
This paper seeks to offer a paradigmatic explanation for the way in which Churches of Christ shifted from a movement that valued and protected theological and interpretive diversity to one of rigid interpretive homogeneity, and where "heresy" transmuted from an ethical category to an ideological one. This development undergoes a number of linear movements including: the welcoming (and even protecting!) of the voice of dissent, the collapse of "error" and "heresy", the silencing of the voice of dissent, the elimination of the voice of dissent, and the loss of discernment due to the atrophy of theological diversity. This movement is also inevitably followed by a revisioning of the tradition's history by those who have assumed positions of interpretive authority. I conclude by suggesting the ways in which this brings particular clarity to the tensions and ferocity of the re-emergence of theological and interpretive diversity within Churches of Christ.