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RESEARCH

Published Works

Approaching Sounds as Symbols in Archetypal Studies

In Quadrant: Journal of the C.G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology Vol. 2Fall 2022.

How might we begin to approach sounds as symbols? The sounds of a baby's cry, a heartbeat, a thunderstorm, and a river are universal acoustical phenomena in human experience, which correlate with distinct biological responses from which a range of meanings can emerge. Given the power of these acoustic experiences, in addition to the power of nonverbal expression and the phenomenon of "music" found across human cultures, more attention is needed to address the question of how sounds function in relation to Jung's theory of archetypes. Symbol anthologies such as The Book of Symbols published by the C.G. Jung Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism reveal a distinct bias towards the visual, reflecting Jung's own bias towards images in his approach to psychoanalysis. Drawing on wisdom from musicology and music therapy, in addition to Jung's theory of archetypes and the shift he made toward music at the end of his life, this paper offers a pathway for approaching sounds as symbols that avoids the ethnocentric missteps of the past, while opening up new areas for psychoanalytic research in the future. Download

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"What Did It Cost?" Sacrifice and Kenosis in The Infinity Saga

In Theology and the Marvel Universe, edited by Gregory Stevenson, Fortress Academic Press, 2019.

"Sacrifice" is not only a major underlying theme woven throughout Marvel's Infinity Saga, but it serves as a recurring motif in many of our culture's foundational mythologies and religions. This paper juxtaposes the themes of sacrifice in The Infinity Saga with those found in the Bible, early Christianity, and the history of Western culture, in order to arrive at insights about both theology and the narrative trajectory of the MCU. The question of whether "Thanos was right" is considered, and the saga as a whole is analyzed from the perspective of René Girard's work on sacrifice as well as Walter Wink's concept of "the myth of redemptive violence." The paper points ultimately to the the need for a more precise delineation between the popular understanding of "sacrifice" and the Christian concept of kenosisDownload

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An Ascetic Aesthetic: St. John Chrysostom on the Discernment of Beauty in Music

In The Concept of Beauty in Patristic and Byzantine Theology, edited by John A McGuckin, Theotokos Press, 2012.

In the field of classical theological aesthetics, philosophical considerations of Beauty as a transcendental quality of existence abound. Meanwhile, the question of how Beauty with a capital "B" relates to instances of perceived beauty in the artistic forms and expressions we find in the actual, material world remains a subject of much scholarly neglect. If we hope to return "Beauty" to its proper place in philosophical and theological discourse, we will ultimately have to develop some theological apparatus for discussing "the beautiful" as it manifests in artistic, as well as cosmic, creation. This paper contributes to such an effort, through a discussion of John Chyrsostom's discernment of "beauty" in the musical expressions of his own time. Download

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This paper examines the theology of "sacred" music and art from a postmodern and postcolonial perspective, tracing the religious underpinnings of modern Western "secularism," and highlighting the ways in which our contemporary notions of spirituality and "the sacred" have emerged as a result. This candid, creative, and at times humorous study looks at the symbiotic historical development of concepts like "art," "religion," and "culture" during the 18th and 19th centuries, revealing how modern Western conventions surrounding these terms are inherently linked to colonialism, capitalism, and class values that are not only morally inconsistent with the Gospel, but theologically incompatible with the Christian revelation of the incarnation. Drawing on the work of theologians like Karl Rahner, Frank Burch Brown, Richard Viladesau, Paul Tillich, and Karl Barth, this paper includes discussions of aesthetic taste, music and art in the context of global capitalism, the rise of the "Christian music" industry, and practical missteps that Christians and church leaders tend to make when assessing the spiritual and/or religious value of musical and artistic works. Alternative methods of interpretation and discernment are suggested, along with areas for future consideration. Download

This paper contains a soundtrack, which you can access on Spotify by clicking here

Masters Thesis

Ascetic Aesthetic

Conference Papers

The writings of the early church fathers, including Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Ambrose of Milan, John Chrysostom, and Augustine of Hippo, provide us with most of the extant sources on music in the early church, through biblical commentaries, letters, and homilies. Many of these writings contain strong polemics against certain types of instruments and forms musical expression, which are commonly misinterpreted as representing a wholesale rejection of instrumental and "secular" music. This paper analyzes these writings within in their historical context to reveal the influence of Greek thought and Greco-Roman culture on the musical opinions and practices of the early church, which challenges the notion that the "songs of devils" were equivalent to "secular" music. The paper also expands the notion of what might be called "sacred music" in the ancient world. Download

"Artist as Prophet, Priest, and Holy Fool: Re-Thinking the Role of Artists in the Church"

Presented at Shaped by Beauty: Music, Art, Theology, Ethics, and Spirituality in Conversation

Heythrop College, London - June 2014

This paper explores the vocation of artists in the life of the church, invoking Eusebius' image of Jesus' "threefold ministry" as a way of revealing how "secular" artists and musicians have embodied, subverted, and transformed Christian discipleship through the arts, in ways that are sometimes irreverent but ultimately faithful. Drawing on the work of theologians such as Karl Rahner, Paul Tillich, and Frank Burch Brown, this paper offers suggestions for how churches can better support the vocation of artists both within and beyond their membership. Download

"Medieval Sight-Seeing: Visual Culture and Religious Practice in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe" 

Presented at Knowledge in Medieval and Early Modern Europe Conference

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - April 2014

This paper offers a nuanced evaluation of the role of sight in the religious cultures of late medieval Europe, through an analysis of beliefs and practices like the evil eye, "ocular communion," and reverence for relics and icons. The purpose of this study is to better identify and interpret changes that took place in the nature and philosophy of seeing during the Reformation and into the early modern period, which helps to shed light on the perceptual chasm that exists between modern and premodern times. This paper includes an analysis of the medieval understanding of optics, and challenges the notion that "ocularcentrism" was a unique outcome of the so-called "Enlightenment." Download

"Early Church Music and Songs of Devils"

Presented at Sophia Institute Center for Orthodox Thought & Culture Annual Conference

Union Theological Seminary, New York City - December 2011

Early Church Music

Other Academic Papers

The Influence of the Greek Symposium in the Development of Early Christian Music

Early Church History, Music, Theology

June 2021

Mary Wept: Gender & Power in the Gospel of Mary

Gospel of Mary chapters 5 & 10

December 2013

Musical Theology of Hildegard of Bingen & Martin Luther: A Comparison

Medieval Church History, Music, Theology

March 2012

Hildegard vs Luther

Online Articles

Apocalypse Now: Seeing with 2020 Vision

Reflection on 2 Peter 3:8-15a

Modern Metanoia, November 23, 2020

Sighs Too Deep: On the Spiritual Value of Anger, Sadness, and Fear 

Reflection on Romans 8:26-39

Modern Metanoia, July 13, 2020

Downward Mobility: Reframing the Direction of Success

Reflection on Luke 19:1-10

Caminando with Jesus, November 3, 2019

 

April Fool's: Finding Humor in the Resurrection Story

Reflection on Mark 16:1-8

Modern Metanoia, April 1, 2018

Blessed Are the Divorced

Reflection on Mark 10:2-16

Modern Metanoia, September 24, 2018

Servant Leadership: A Reflection for Maundy Thursday

Reflection on John 13:1-17; 31b-35

Modern Metanoia, April 3, 2017

Faith That Makes Us Well

Reflection on Luke 17:11-23

Modern Metanoia, September 26, 2016

Sermons

Featured Sermons

Eve, Adam, and The Root of Sin

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-17 & Matthew 4:1-11

The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Asheboro, NC

March 3, 2020

What is Clean and Unclean? 

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-25

Faith Presbyterian Church, Greensboro, NC

February 26, 2017

Moses, the Burning Bush, and Becoming Who You Are

Exodus 3:1-15

St. Mark's in the Bowery Episcopal Church, NYC

March 3, 2013

Archives

From 2011-2014, I worked as an Assistant Archivist for Columbia University Libraries at the Burke Theological Library, where I preserved and processed historical documents obtained in the acquisition of New York City's Missionary Research Library, which closed in the 1960s. These primary documents contain valuable first-hand accounts from the late 19th and early 20th centuries that are critical for understanding Christian missionary work and Western colonization during this era. These documents also shed light on the criticisms and cultural factors that led to the abandonment of missionary projects by most mainline denominations during the latter part of the 20th century. The following are some of the collections that I processed, and the library research finding aids that I compiled and wrote: 

National Council of Churches Records, 1943-1973

Columbia University Libraries

Vatican II Ecumenical Council Records, 1962-1980

Columbia University Libraries

Laymen's Foreign Missions Inquiry Records, 1879-1940

Columbia University Libraries

Badi'u'llah and Muhammad Ali Baha'i Papers, 1901-1944

Columbia University Libraries

Personnel Policies of Foreign Mission Boards Records, 1955

Columbia University Libraries

William Wilberforce Chapin Papers, 1860-1865

Columbia University Libraries

Robert Ernest Hum Papers, 1817

Columbia University Libraries

Henry Ballantine Papers, 1888

Columbia University Libraries

Frank C. Laubach Papers, 1924-1952

Columbia University Libraries

C.P. Bush Papers, 1880

Columbia University Libraries

Bertha E. Davis Papers, 1892-1946

Columbia University Libraries

Reginald Humphrey Helfferich Papers, 1832-1981

Columbia University Libraries

Robert C. Dodds Papers, 1962-1974

Columbia University Libraries

Library Archives: NYC Missionary Research Library

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