With the New Year, I’ve decided to indulge you, my vast army of readers, in a brief update on my whereabouts and activities. In 2017, this blog became mainly a repository of my sermons, of which there was a slight uptick after May when I became the associate rector at St. David’s Church, Baltimore. I’ve preached without a mss a couple times in the last month, but that doesn’t totally explain the decrease in my posts. Rather, my main responsibility at St. David’s is children’s ministries, and I’ve taken on the role of storyteller for Godly Play which takes place during the 10am mass. I still preach occasionally, and more often am celebrant, but I’m only preaching about once a month these days.
What’s particularly exciting on the academic front, however, is that my role as Godly Play story-teller is dovetailing in unexpected ways with my work on Children’s Literature and Theology. This overlap will take on even greater significance in about a month as I begin to teach a three weekend intensive at General Theological Seminary, entitled “A Literary Theology of Children and the Spiritual Senses.” Additionally, I’ve submitted a book proposal about my particular argument about Children’s Lit, Scriptural Interpretation, and Theology, and hope to hear back about that soon. So, this Spring has turned into the semester of children’s lit, a development that couldn’t be better timed in my opinion.
Finally, I’ve accepted an invitation to write a chapter for a book out of Notre Dame Univ. on Religion and Science, to be published sometime next year. This is an unexpected, but welcome, return to some of my work on Genesis 1 commentaries from late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, but with the bonus that I get to deploy that overly historical work in a much more contructive frame.
Meanwhile, I’m also beginning to redevelop a Theology and Art course that I taught for LaSalle a couple summers ago, and have been excited to see how much scholarship has come out on the topic in just the last two or three years, including works by my friends Natalie Carnes and Brendan Sammon. Natalie’s book, Image and Presence (SUP, 2017), takes the kenotic gift of the Incarnation as a reflection of how images work. In some senses, this is very much like the argument that I make about the way the imagination in both literature and Scripture, so I’m very excited to see how Natalie develop’s this argument. Brendan’s long awaited Cascade Companion, entitled Called to Attraction (Wipf & Stock, 2017), which was just enthusiastically reviewed in the Englewood Review, makes a move similar to the one central to Image and Presence. Brendan argues that concrete, particular manifestations of beauty call to us and draw us into the universal and eternal, even as a kind of spiritual ascent. Does such a move to the universal entail kicking out the ladder of the particular? This is a common critique leveled at spiritualities that begin with creation or material perception, and I’ll be curious to see how Brendan handles it.