The theologian

By training as well as by disposition, I am a moral theologian. That doesn’t mean I am an expert in morality. I’m not; my expertise is in blundering and groping towards wholeness in God. So I am really good at stumbling, but not inclined to boast that I know the way. Nevertheless, I find myself, in my personal as well as my professional life, asking questions that pertain to practice. Since I am married to a historian, I worried for long years whether I was really a scholar, when what was causing me such anxiety was the fact that I wasn’t a historian. What lights my fire, intellectually speaking, are the questions about who we are and what we ought to do. Since Catholic moral theology is predicated on theological anthropology and is concerned with the way we live out our Christian faith, it’s a pretty good fit for me.

So far, my published work has focused on questions about the practice of theology (an IJST article on the theological methodology of Rowan Williams, for example), and Christian identity and formation. My book, Rethinking Christian Identity: Doctrine and Discipleship, explores the character of Christian identity and suggests that without strong attention to sin’s hindrance of our spiritual growth, and the need for formation as we do grow, ideas about what constitutes “Christian identity” are just that: ideas. Some of the ideas I discuss in the book are excellent, but in order for us to see them in practice, we have to do some hard work.

A third interest drives my research and reflection, and informs all my other work: thinking at the intersection of theological ethics and intellectual disability. This is part of where the  ‘in the family’ description comes into play. (See the ‘in the family’ page, forthcoming on this site.) My reading in this area began because I thought I ought to know what one might possibly write about Theology and Down Syndrome. Through a series of events, I found myself writing a review article for Modern Theology on it and two other books. And that catapulted me into a conversation that I never even knew existed, and introduced me to some people who have become mentors and friends. An article in the June 2017 issue of the Journal of Moral Theology considers the question of the relevance of doctrine for people with intellectual disabilities.

Alongside this work, I teach in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University. Teaching and all it entails often pushes aside my research and writing. Yet the classroom provides a different place for inquiry and discussion in a different register. Sometimes students’ questions nudge me in a direction I didn’t realize I needed to go; other times, I find myself realising that what I am saying is a new idea, something I should (but usually don’t) write down after the lecture. Most days, I enjoy teaching and find it stimulates my work rather than stifling it.

Now I should have some strong concluding sentence. But since this is a blog page, just for the information of whoever happens to want it, and not a job application letter, I am not going to write one.

 

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