A Brief Bio
I am a proud father, husband, improvisor, theologian, and member of The Religious Society of Friends. Professionally, I'm a juggler. I mean, I don't juggle things, but I do juggle jobs.
Primarily, I work as the Executive Director of ARC: Arts | Religion | Culture, an organization committed to supporting individuals and groups whose work is at the intersection of spiritual and creative practices, especially as those practices are done for community-building and work towards justice. I also serve as Assistant Director in the office of Contextual Education in Boston University's School of Theology and regularly work as a consultant and workshop leader, mostly for non-profits and faith communities.
Academically, my work is at the intersection of public theology with creative practices and their connection to education and spiritual formation. My research interests are a constellation of topics around public education, liberation theology, critical pedagogy, trauma studies, and philosophies and theologies of imagination. I'm the author of Way to Water: A Theopoetics Primer. Records of my academic work can be seen in my C.V. below
Ministerially, I serve in the itinerant ministry within and beyond The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), often traveling as a retreat leader, or teacher of discernment. While deeply grounded in my own tradition's Christian Quakerism, I have also been deeply influenced by Ignatian spirituality. With my wife, Kristina, I'm the person behind The Jewels of Quakerism Adult Religious Education materials and the Quaker ministry podcast On Carrying a Concern.
In the "interesting other things" category, I have been a public school teacher, was the co-founder of a community theater in Rochester, NY, and currently perform improv theatre and dabble as an amateur woodworker.
A bit of a longer look at some of my commitments and passions.
I have been a creator my entire life. There are dozens of photographs of me making and crafting as a child: creating games to play with my brother and sister, reveling in paste and paper, and imagining worlds that I could explore on my own, dazing off into the middle distance as I envisioned far-away lands. That child is still very much a part of me, and given the pressure of society to Consume instead of Create, I am very glad that he has survived. These days my primary interests tend toward theater and wood-working, though in the past I've been very engaged
In Rochester, NY I was a founding member of the improvisational theater group Search Engine Improv, with whom I performed regularly, taught improv, and organized the annual Fall Back Comedy Festival. I coached the improv teams "The Awesome Train" and "Valorous Bufanda." Relatedly, I was the co-founder and co-manager of The Space: an Venue for the Performing Arts, a publicly accessible theater made by artists for artists and their audiences.
Beyond theatre, I periodically invest substantial periods of time into the writing of poetry, which is somewhat of a disciplined practice for me: I can tend to get caught up in big, abstract ideas, and poetics requires that you stay focused and present on the world around you, something I often need to work on. Poems of mine can be found in the anthology Spirit Rising as well as in my book Way to Water.
Organizationally, I have served on the executive board of directors for the League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling, was previously the national coordinator for The Transformative Language Arts Networkand, currently serve as the executive director for ARC: Arts | Religion | Culture. .
Religion & Spirituality
I am committed to the belief that a just world is possible, and that religion’s role is to help usher in that world, abandoning exclusionary theology, oppressive regimes, and violence done in God’s name. For me, spirituality is not about magical thinking or the supernatural; I feel very strongly that religion is to be about listening to God's call to move into strong, healthy, and inclusive communities in the here-and-now.
My wife and I serve in the ministry within the Religious Society of Friends: I carry a concern for the power of language to guide our lives and dreams and travel under the oversight of a support committee of Fresh Pond Monthly Meeting of New England Yearly Meeting. With my wife Kristina, I have taught Quaker Faith and Practice at Pendle Hill, and have created a series of adult religious education videos for use in Quaker Meetings. In the ministry I travel widely and have co-lead retreats in Michigan, Ottawa, Vermont, and various venues in New York state. I was a plenary speaker for the National conference on Quaker Leadings and Discernment, and have been the invited leader of Bible Study for both Farmington-Scipio Regional Meeting, and New York Yearly Meeting's Annual Sessions. I am interested in the practices of Early Friends and issues of discipline and transformation within Monthly Meetings.
Academically, I am a theologian and my work focuses primarily on the development of a public theology of public education, though I do juggle a number of side projects relating to creative and liberation approaches to Adult Religious Education. I work in the disciplines of Practical Theology and Religious Education, and am a huge adovacte for making theology accessible to folks. Technical academic langauge certainly does have its place, but I think that as a scholar I should make sure that at least periodically I check in to make sure my work still matters to folks who are not in the academy. I was the founder of The Association for Theopoetics Research and Exploration and THEOPOETICS, an online journal. For a while I vlogged regularly at The Image of Fish where I posted a variety of things, almost all related to my studies, reflection, and practice of religion. Those posts are all archived below. In addition to these online sources, I periodically publish in academic journals, denominational resources, and speak at various venues either as preacher or lecturer.
The Arts play a large role in my sense of all things, perhaps especially those things which are spiritual-centered. Throughout my work run themes addressing practices of creativity, embodiment, and (re)imagining the Divine, all of which are addressed in my work with theopoetics.
Teaching & Consulting
I am a teacher by training and inclination. I have worked as a teacher in theatre, dance, and music. I've worked in public schools at the middle and high school level, taught Italian in a full language immersion program, lead church retreats, and presented workshops and lectures all over the US. I work with adults and children of all ages and believe that all people are innately curious beings.
My research for my Masters in Teaching investigated the role of narrative in the classroom, and as a result, story plays a significant part of my stance as a teacher. I am particularly interested in the use of narrative to assist students in developing mastery and increased means to comprehend abstract ideas. As a Humanities teacher at McAuliffe Regional Charter School, I was the co-designer of an integrated thematic curriculum that combined English Language Arts standards with those from World History. The resulting course addressed topics in literature and social studies in a cyclical, constructivist way, returning to cultures and concepts repeatedly so as continue to build on background knowledge and assist in making connections. Currently, I am interested in the use of theatre, poetry, and storytelling in cross-curricular development of lessons.
As a consultant, I work with organizations looking to address issues of board development and with churches and para-church groups interested in growing skills of discernment and vocation care. I work frequently with youth-focused non-profits helping to develop programs in leadership and vocational discernment.
These days I am available for programs in the following:
If you are interested in having me come to speak, teach, or facilitate a workshop with your organization, please get in touch.
Previous Teaching & Speaking
This is a good taste of the kind of work I do.
"On Sacred Struggles in Covenant Community"
Plenary Panelist at New England Yearly Meeting Sessions, August 2015.
"Discernment 101: Searching for Vocation in Community"
Talk and Workshop at Emory's Youth Theological Institute, July 2015.
“Learning in the Rhythms of Life: US Public Education and Grace Jantzen's Natal Epistemology"
Talk at “Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization” | 9th International Forum on Ecological Civilization Conference, June 2015
"What's the Point of (Adult) Religious Education Anyway?"
Talk at "Emerging Practices in Quaker Outreach" | New England Yearly Meeting Consultation, April 2015.
“Bibliographies and Bodies in the Theological Search for Social Justice”
Talk as Friend-in-Residence | Earlham School of Religion & Bethany Theological Seminary, March 2015
“Discerning in Community: Challenges and Joys”
Talk as Theologian-in-Residence – Youth Discernment Retreats | Forum for Theological Exploration, March & April 2015
“Transforming Power: A History of Quaker Advocacy”
Talk – Spring Lobbyist Training Weekend | Friends National Committee on Legislation, March 2014
“Improvising Life: Theatre and Truth in Comedy”
Talk and Workshop – Power of Words Conference | Transformative Lanugage Arts Network, September 2014
“Made as Makers and the Role of Imagination in Theology”
Film and Talk – Challenges of the 21st Century | Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School April, 2013
“Theological Epistemology in The Emergent Church: A Form of Paul Ricoeur's Relational Attestation”
Conference Paper – Open and Relational Theologies Group | American Academy of Religion, Nov. 2013
“The Soul in Silent Worship: Perspectives from Early Friends and Current Practice”
Talk and Workshop – Soul Festival | Manhasset Friends Meeting, May 2012
“An Exploration of Creation”
Week-long Bible Study – Denominational Gathering | New York Yearly Meeting, July 2011
“Theopoetic Explorations and Fusings: Hyper-reality, Horizons, and the Reading of Scripture”
Conference Paper – Phenomenology and Scripture Group | American Academy of Religion, Nov. 2010
“Lewis Carroll, Orthodox/Quaker Thought, The Audubon Society, and the Willingness to Squint”
Talk – Theology after Google Conference | Claremont School of Theology, March 2010
“Writing for the Spoken Word”
Talk – Quakers Uniting in Publications' Writers Conference | March 2010