The person God has shaped me into is the product of many more stories and encounters than can fit on a page. My faith, theology, and personality have all been formed much more through small daily encounters with the Holy than by grand transformational events.
Although we attended church, and I was active in youth group, while growing up, my peer group, particularly in high school, was more formative in shaping my theology. Although it sounds like the setup for a joke, my circle of friends included an Indian Catholic, an Asian Jew, an African-American Southern Baptist who never got out of church until 3pm on Sunday afternoons and thus couldn’t join our weekly pickup football game, and an Atheist. Although I couldn’t have articulated it at the time, the religious and ethnic diversity provided a foundation that instilled in me a passion for recognizing that all people are created in and reflect the image of God.
This foundational belief has been strengthened by opportunities I’ve had to visit, live, and work in other cultures for a time, including China, Jamaica, Mexico, Germany, Scotland, and the Middle East, along with homeless populations in Atlanta and Kingston. Seeing common hopes and elements of humanity in people across every socio-economic strata and culture reaffirmed my belief that the ministry of Jesus Christ begins not with doctrine or theology, but in loving neighbor and even enemy as I love myself, and respecting and honoring the image of God in each person.
While in Seminary, I met my wife Sarah, who has found her calling in life as a social worker. We have been blessed with a wonderful son, Wallace, and an exuberant golden retriever, Daisy. Being a part of my family, spending time with them, and taking part in the spiritual and character development of my son as he grows up continues to shape my theology today.
I am also a member of a close-knit group of colleagues (collectively known as the Gathering of Heretics) who hail from as far away as the Great White North of Canada and as far west as the unfortunate land of the Razorbacks. We gather twice a year in the mountains of North Carolina to present research and homiletic strategies for previously decided topics, sometimes engaging other academics with whom to consult as well. This group of pastors has become an essential part of my spiritual health and creative growth.
In my spare time I enjoy creating things, whether that’s a woodworking project in the shop, crafting a new homebrew to enjoy, or programming a computer program or website to fulfill some task that would easily take half the expense and a tenth of the time to purchase. I also enjoy spending time outdoors, especially running and tennis, and usually captain and play in several USTA leagues each year. I’m always up for trying new hobbies as a means of keeping me humble but also entertained.
There are few things I find more exciting and invigorating than trying and learning new things. In my daydreaming moments when I’m not savings the world, I would win the lottery and spend the rest of my life learning and exploring new things, new ideas, and new places. Until that happens, I derive great enjoyment and fulfillment from engaging the scriptures with the people of God of all ages, both in study and in action, finding there is no richer or more fertile ground to continue learning and growing in my own faith and understanding of God.