As the senior member of our department, I still have a lot to learn. When I was an undergraduate at Augsburg, I wished I could take so many more courses to learn about all the subjects. Now I still feel the tug to investigate every thing on earth and in heaven.
I have many happy memories of classes and students who discovered new aspects of the world, themselves, and God. The teaching role that I enjoy most is that of tour leader: come with me to the hidden valley you have never seen before! Isn’t it interesting and beautiful! I also enjoy my role as coach: in order to discover new valleys for yourself, here are some essentials to give you the right equipment! And, of course, I must also fulfill my role as keeper of standards: give you feedback on how I think you are doing at the tasks of discovery, understanding, remembering, analyzing, and evaluating.
I have two special interests within the field of theology. These are the history of Christian Spirituality and the churches of the non-Western world. The first arises out of my perspective on the Christian Life: I believe that we are made right with God by God’s gift of grace, not what we accomplish on our spiritual journey. I also believe that attention to that journey and the practices that open us to God’s presence and transforming power are worthy of study and teaching. My class REL 425 both experiences and studies the spiritual practices that keep us mindful of God: prayer, meditation, examen, lectio divina, service to the neighbor, worship in a congregation, spiritual direction, fasting, keeping a spiritual journal, walking the labyrinth, etc.
I have had the privilege of living and teaching in Africa. For almost a decade I taught at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria. This period changed my worldview from being America-centric to global-centric. Now I teach REL 306, Non-Western Christianity, which deals with Asia, Africa, and Latin America. I am convinced that Christianity is not European in origin, that it is multi-cultural, and that it is important to learn about the nature of this faith from persons of other continents.
So one of my great interests is traveling internationally. In 2006 I was privileged to host an Augsburg trip to China, with special attention to religion; to study St. Francis of Assisi on a National Endowment for the Humanities Seminar in Italy; to visit Norway and Denmark; and to visit my “second country” of Nigeria and observe the progress of the churches in that country. I hope to participate in a conference on Religion and Culture at Payap University in Thailand in June 2007.
My main writing accomplishment is Thirsty for God: A Brief History of Christian Spirituality, which was first published in 1993, came out in a British edition and a Chinese translation in 1997, and is currently in a Second Edition with Fortress Press since 2005. This book attempts to broaden the readers’ understanding and practice of Christian spirituality. The links below will give you some external reviews and offer the chance to purchase the book.
- B.A. Augsburg College
- B.D. Luther Theological Seminary
- M.Phil. Yale University
- Ph.D. Yale University