top of page



Celtic Art & Spirituality

Most of us live in cultural contexts where mind and body, heaven and earth, sacred and secular, and religion and art are perceived as being separate from one another. The Celtic spiritual tradition offers a cosmology and cultural ideology much closer to that of Jesus, emphasizing the interconnectedness of all things and focusing on restoring right relationship between human beings, the natural world, and the spiritual world. Celtic wisdom invites us to experience the "ordinary" as being alive with the presence of God. By looking at ancient and medieval Celtic art, especially images from illuminated manuscripts like the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow, and by examining the historical connection between Celtic spiritual traditions and early desert monasticism, this presentation will open up new pathways for understanding the role of the arts, embodiment, and nature in Christian spirituality.  


Religious Art & Iconography

Our post-Reformation, post-Enlightenment cultural lenses tell us that the physical, material world has little, if any, religious or spiritual significance. To suggest otherwise has become for many people either idolatrous or absurd. This "Cartesian" lens has made it difficult for us to grasp the relationship between our aesthetic and spiritual lives, preventing us from fully appreciating the connection between spirituality and the arts. "Secular" art is often presented as being merely for entertainment, while "religious" art is usually understood as being useful only for instruction or liturgical decoration. In this presentation, we will look at the difference between modern Western concepts of "art" and Eastern (Byzantine) iconography, gaining new "eyes to see" religious iconography and visual art in general. We will discuss some of the controversies surrounding visual art in the history of the church, and look at how the orthodox practice of praying with icons invites us into participation and relationship, asking the viewer to deepen their emotional intelligence by directing their imaginative capacities to "see beyond" their everyday sensory experiences. 

Improvisation as a Way of Life

In his book Improvisation in Life and Art, jazz musician Stephen Nachmanovitch writes, "When people ask me how to improvise, only a little of what I can say is about music. The real story is about spontaneous expression, and it is therefore a spiritual and a psychological story, rather than a story about technique." Improvisation - whether in music, theatre, dance, comedy, or just in our everyday lives - requires a willingness to accept the present moment for what it is and embrace a concept that psychologists and artists call "flow." Christians have traditionally interpreted this as the work of discernment - learning to listen for and trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. By practicing improvisation, we can learn new ways of practicing our faith, by developing those postures of acceptance and trust. Through easy improv games and techniques drawn from a number of artistic disciplines, this playful and fun course helps participants learn how to trust in the "flow" and say "yes, and" to the movement of the Spirit in their lives.

Note: This course can be taught as a half-day workshop or a 5-week class. 

The Artist's Way: Artistic Vocation

This 12- to 15-week class will address the subject of artistic "calling" and the arts as a spiritual practice, providing tools and resources to guide participants through a process of discernment and growth through artistic expression. The course will draw on wisdom and exercises from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, along with a number of other texts on the creative process including Janice Elseheimer's The Creative Call, Anne Lammott's Bird By Bird, Twyla Tharpe's The Creative Habit, and Stephen Nachmanovich's The Art of Is. We will look at the some of the cultural and religious messages that hinder people from pursuing an artistic vocation, as well as the relationship between one's vocation and one's "career," working to re-frame these issues in more positive and life-sustaining ways. 

Note: This topic can be adjusted based on whether it is being taught in a religious, non-religious, or ecumenical setting. Click here to read my academic conference lecture on artistic vocation in the context of theology and the church.


For Art's Sake: The Ethics of Art

What is "bad art"? Are our aesthetic preferences and tastes merely subjective, or do they have a deeper connection to our values, and our sense of truth and justice? Picasso once commented that artists use lies to tell the truth, and many thinkers throughout history have observed the important prophetic role that the arts have played in speaking truth to power.  Art "speaks" to us on a visceral level that goes beyond didactic language and reason, appealing directly to our bodies, our emotions, and our imaginative capacities. But for this same reason, art and music can also be used in emotionally manipulative ways by those in power - for political propaganda, commercial advertising, and religious indoctrination. This course/lecture explores some of the ethical issues surrounding art, by looking at the relationship between beauty, truth, and goodness in relation to the modern Western notion of "art for art's sake." We will address factors relating to social class, commercialism, cultural appropriation, and think through case studies that illuminate some of the deeper issues underlying the age-old conflict between art and religion. 

Note: This topic can be offered as a lecture or taught as a 5- to 12-week class. 

Popular Culture & Theology

What does Star Wars have anything to do with theology? How about Marvel or DC comics, or video game sagas like Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda? Are the tales of witchcraft and wizardry in Harry Potter really a "doorway to the occult"? Christian engagement with popular culture has typically been characterized by either avoidance or outright dismissal, often in favor of whatever is considered "high culture." This lecture/course introduces a variety of tools for evaluating the deeper themes found in the stories and mediums of pop culture. We will address issues like how to identify theological themes in music or film that may not have been intended by the writer or director, learning how to responsibly engage both religious and secular cultural "texts" from a more critical lens. Participants will hone their ability to interpret the meanings and messages of the stories they consume in ways that will deepen their social, theological, and philosophical thinking. 

Note: This topic can be offered as a lecture or taught as a 5- to 12-week class. 


Professional Background

I received my B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where I studied semantics, rhetorical analysis, and cultural criticism. I learned about iconography at Union Theological Seminary from Romanian Orthodox priest and professor Dr. John A. McGuckin and his wife Eileen McGuckin, who is a renowned iconographer in the East. In addition to my music career, I've worked as an artist in many different mediums including graphic design, photography, theatre, and film. I enjoy painting, crafting, calligraphy, and cosplay, and consider myself a die-hard fan of Star Wars, DC, Marvel, Tolkien, Narnia, Harry Potter, She-Ra, and many other cartoons from the 1980s. Click here to read my published chapter on theology in relation to Thanos and the MCU's Infinity Saga

bottom of page