Academic Work

I’m a doctoral candidate in liturgical studies at the Graduate Theological Union. My main research interests at the moment are in eucharistic theology, eucharistic origins, and the intersection between sacramental theology and cognitive linguistics. I’m currently working on my dissertation, Metaphors of Eucharistic Presence, and plan to finish it during the summer of 2017.

I also have the privilege of being part of seminarians’ formation as an adjunct instructor at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Right now I’m teaching Liturgical Leadership, the most fun class in the whole seminary curriculum (in my wholly biased opinion). Not only do we reflect together on the skills of planning and leading extraordinary worship, students also get to preside in their own practice liturgies, complete with video and feedback.

In past years I’ve co-taught a seminar in eucharistic theology with the remarkable and beloved Louis Weil and served as a teaching assistant for classes in liturgy with Ruth Meyers and Lizette Larson-Miller and in Christian education with Susanna Singer.

I have two publications out there so far, with a few more appearing soon. In 2012 I published “O Oriens: Reassessing Eastward Celebration for Renewed Liturgy,” a revision of my M.Div. thesis from 2007, in the Anglican Theological Review (abstract available here). In 2014 I presented a paper at the North American Academy of Liturgy, “The Word Made Flesh: Toward a Sacramental Theology of Language,” which was later published in the Proceedings of the Academy. It’s available free, but here’s a more conveniently formatted version where you can see the footnotes (though if you want to cite it for anything, you’ll need the pagination from the official version).

My paper “Eucharistic Spirituality and Metaphoric Asymmetry” will be coming out sometime soon in a volume from Fortress Press, edited by Erin Kidd and Jakob Rinderknecht. Metaphoric asymmetry is why we say things like “She gave me a warm and friendly smile” (AFFECTION IS WARMTH) but not “Is the oven friendly enough yet?” (WARMTH IS AFFECTION). It has a lot to do with the differences between a more Catholic and a more Protestant approach to the eucharist: BREAD IS JESUS and JESUS IS BREAD are both valid scriptural metaphors, but they mean very different things!

I also have a two-part paper forthcoming in Worship that tries to offer a new way of thinking about the data we have on the earliest origins of the eucharist, focusing on two noteworthy phenomena: the tradition of breaking and sharing morsels from a single loaf of bread and sips from a single cup, and the tradition connecting the elements of the meal with sayings about Jesus’ body and blood.

 

Here are a couple of things I’ve written in the past, mostly for coursework in the first few years of my Ph.D. program:

“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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