Published Works

"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 that is woven throughout Marvel's Infinity Saga, but it also serves as a motif in many of our culture's foundational mythologies and religions. This paper juxtaposes themes of sacrifice in The Infinity Saga with those found in the Bible, early Christianity, and the history of Western culture, to arrive at insights about both theology and the MCU. The question of whether "Thanos was right" is considered, and the saga as a whole is analyzed both from the perspective of René Girard's work on sacrifice as well as Walter Wink's concept of "the myth of redemptive violence." This analysis points to the the need for further differentiation between the popular understanding of sacrifice and the Christian concept of kenosis (self-emptying). Download

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" may relate to instances of perceived beauty in the artistic expressions and forms we encounter in the material world remains a subject of much scholarly neglect. If we hope to return "Beauty" to its proper place in our 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 this effort through a discussion of John Chyrsostom's discernment of "beauty" in the musical expressions of his own time. Download

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Finding God in the In-Between: Towards a Postsecular Theology of Music and Art 

Advised by:  Dr. John Thatamanil, Union Theological Seminary; Dr. Thomas Beaudoin, Fordham University

This paper examines the theology of music and art from a postsecular and postcolonial perspective, highlighting the religious underpinnings of modern Western "secularism," and deconstructing the contemporary understandings of spirituality and "the sacred" that 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 century, revealing how our modern Western conventions surrounding these terms are inherently linked to modern colonialism, capitalism, and class values that are not only morally inconsistent with the Gospel tradition, but theologically incompatible with the Christian revelation of the incarnation. Drawing on the work of theologians like Paul Tillich, Karl Rahner, Frank Burch Brown, Richard Viladesau, and Karl Barth, the paper contains discussions of aesthetic taste, music and art in relation to global capitalism, and the rise of the "Christian music" industry. It offers a practical analysis of missteps commonly made by clergy and laypeople in trying to identify the spiritual and/or theological value of musical and artistic works, and suggests alternative methods of interpretation and discernment. Download

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

Masters Thesis

 
 

Conference Papers

"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 the church can provide better support for the vocation of artists both within and beyond its 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 the changes that took place in the nature of seeing during the Reformation and into the early modern period. 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

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 about 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 "secular" music. This paper analyzes these statements from within in their historical context to reveal the influence of Greek thought and Greco-Roman culture on the musical practices and opinions of the early church fathers, challenging the notion that the "songs of devils" were always identified with secular music. This paper challenges the parameters of what can be considered "sacred music" in the early church. Download

 

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

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

Other Academic Papers

Mary Wept: Gender & Power in the Gospel of Mary

Gospel of Mary chapters 5 & 10

December 2013

Sounds as Symbols in Archetypal Studies

Carl Jung, Semantics, Musical Meaning, Music Therapy 

December 2012

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

Medieval Church History, Music, Theology

March 2012

 
 

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