Academic Work

In May 2014 I finished my second and final year of coursework for the Ph.D. program at the GTU. Next I’ll propose and take a series of comprehensive exams and then write a dissertation. Meanwhile I have the privilege of being part of seminarians’ learning and formation as a teaching assistant for various liturgics classes at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. In spring 2015 I’ll cross over from teaching assistant to teacher as I co-lead a Newhall seminar in eucharistic theology with Louis Weil.

I have one publication out there so far: my article “O Oriens: Reassessing Eastward Celebration for Renewed Liturgy,” appeared in the summer 2012 issue of the Anglican Theological Review. It’s based on my M.Div. thesis from 2007. The abstract is available here. The ATR relies on subscriptions to stay in business, so if you’re not a subscriber and don’t have access to online fulltext journals, I strongly encourage you to find a copy in a theological library or church resource center near you. However, if you really don’t have access to any of these and would still like to read the article, please contact me to request a proof.

Here’s a sampling of some of the more recent research and writing I’ve been doing along the way.

“The Breaking of the Bread and the Body and Blood of the Lord: Variation and Connection in First-Century Eucharists.” This project arose out of my interest in eucharistic origins, particularly in two distinct but related questions: (1) the role the ritual gesture of breaking a common loaf played in early Christian meal practice, and (2) how the body-and-blood sayings of Jesus spread as an oral tradition in the first decades of Christianity. I plan to readdress the first question as part of my comps, drawing on some important work on nascent ritual and ritualization from Ronald Grimes and Catherine Bell with which I wasn’t yet familiar enough when I first wrote this. Later on I’d like to rework this to see if there might be a publication in it. You can read the introduction here to get a sense of my approach.

“The Word Made Flesh: Toward an Anglican Theology of the Sacramentality of Language.” Here I bring my interest in cognitive linguistics and metaphor into conversation with liturgical theologians in an attempt to bridge the historic gap between theologies emphasizing Word and theologies emphasizing Sacrament. Possibly for publication, so just the introduction is available here.

“A Sacramentality of Grace in George Herbert.” A short paper on the way Herbert is able to use the highest sacramental language in a way that holds together Catholic and Reformed understandings. For Herbert no material symbols and no human beings are capable of mediating Christ’s presence through their own merit, but through God’s overwhelming grace both things and people can become genuine bearers of the divine. You can read the whole thing here.

“Intimacy and Faith: Cranmer’s Concept of Communion in the 1552 Rite.” As Anglican liturgies go, the 1552 communion rite is not exactly my personal favorite. It marks the low-water mark of Anglican sacramental theology. Anglicans on the more catholic end of things have tended to romanticize Thomas Cranmer’s earlier 1549 version–but history suggests Cranmer was moving toward 1552 all along. In this short paper I try to read 1552 on its own terms, taking an appreciative stance, and I do after all find something to appreciate: the way in which Cranmer reframed “communion” as not just a moment in the service but as its very center. You can read the whole thing here.

“‘Blessed is He Who Comes!’: History and Eschatology in the Episcopal Church’s Liturgical Resources for Advent, 1928-2012.” The season of Advent has always been a special one for me, filled as it is with mystery and anticipation. How have theologies of Advent changed for Episcopalians over the past century? In this project I decided to try to find out by doing a close reading of all our authorized liturgical texts for Advent (prayer book and supplementary liturgical material, lectionaries, hymnals) between 1928 and the present. What I find is that the balance among themes of Christ’s first, final, and present comings has changed over time: Episcopalians have shifted to some extent from looking ahead to the final victory of Christ to looking back in a sort of reenacted preparation for Christ’s birth at Bethlehem. Read the abstract and introduction here.

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