Sunday, September 4, 2011

....And we're back!

This blog has been in abeyance for some two years. There has been lots on my plate during those two years and this blog was one thing that ended up on the backburner. I plan to change that this year. The focus of the blog will change a bit too. My plan (along with colleagues at Saint Louis University) is to use this blog to highlight what is going on in the study of medieval historical theology at SLU. Most of the information will be mirrored at our facebook page, but there will also be some more sustained discussions here.

I look forward to sharing with you my work in medieval theology, as well as what my colleagues are doing.  And, I also anticipate some good conversations about the scholarly study of what I think is the most fascinating era of Christian thought.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Virtual York Minster

Last June, the Center for Digital Theology completed a 3DRT interactive model for York Minster Cathedral. It allows users to wander the Lady Chapel and examine all the artifacts in detail. Integrated text guides the user so they can understand what they are seeing, especially when they are viewing the panels of the Great East Window.

I just uploaded a short video on the project at YouTube:

This was the proof of concept for a larger project to model the entire Minster. We started with the Lady Chapel because the Great East Window will be boarded up for the next ten years while the East wall is repaired and reinforced. We were hoping to start up the next phase in 2009, but the current economy has made gathering the funding a bit of a challenge. Hopefully we will be able to move forward in the next year or so.

York Minster plans to put this model on work stations in the Minster, so that visitors can have some access to the Chapel during the restoration.

The Virtual York Minster is our second 3DRT project. The first was the Virtual Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. Here's the YouTube promo for that:

This model is available for purchase on for a mere $26 (+S/H). What a deal!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Why Buckden Manor?

Buckden manor (now known as Buckden Towers) was the residence of choice for Robert Grosseteste, when he was bishop of Lincoln (r. 1235-1253). He appears to have spent a lot of time there, where he may have worked on his many translation projects and theological writings while he was bishop. He also spent his last days there. So Buckden manor holds a special place for me as a Grosseteste scholar. Buckden Manor also reminds me that all theological writing has to be located in specific geographic, historical, social and institutional coordinates.

Most of the bishop's palace was destroyed in the sixteenth century, but the building's footprints are still visible and there is still a medieval tower. Today, Buckden Towers is primarily a Catholic retreat center, but also a tourist site. The village of Buckden is located in Cambridgeshire, about 25 miles north west of Cambridge.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The man behind the curtain...

Welcome to my blog. This site will contain posts about the historical study of medieval theology. Some posts will be my own musings about my current research, while others will concern topics that I have been addressing in class. I might even on occasion pontificate on current topics that are relevant--but I try to avoid being relevant as a matter of principle!

Transparency is an important value to me as a teacher and scholar, so let me begin with who I am and where I come from: I was born and raised in Toronto and completed all my education in that city. I was very fortunate to do my graduate studies at the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto--and also to study with some of the Research Fellows at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies there. I've been teaching and researching for nearly fourteen years--seven years in the UK and seven years in the USA.

My approach to my areas of teaching and publishing is framed by two important commitments: first, I have been trained as a medievalist who sees the primacy of text in historical research. I'm interested in how medieval theologians drew from texts to create other texts as the containers of their ideas. I say containers not just to be trendy, but to remind myself that ideas are not just bound to the written page, but have an intimate connection with the social and institutional contexts. I'm therefore interested in understanding how theological works reflect their historical context and I try to examine how they also tried to transform that context.

The second commitment really has the greater priority in my life, and that is my Christian Faith. I used to think my faith journey was unusual, but it really isn't. I was raised in an evangelical family that infused me with a love of Scripture and constant exposure to the Gospel. I became interested in theological study and was considering professional ministry when I fell in love with history and the Middle Ages in particular. While a doctoral student, I began a serious reflection on who I was as a Christian and came to the decision to become a Roman Catholic. My main reason for doing so--which still flummoxes my Protestant friends and family--was the primacy of the Bible in Catholic liturgy and teaching. I remain deeply grateful for my upbringing and so I suppose as a result I would be considered ecumenical in outlook. My faith affects my life of study since I take seriously the content of medieval theology. It is not just a historical riddle that needs solving, nor simply an object of intellectual curiosity. However, I am not partisan in my approach. I have no problem identifying mistakes in the medieval experience, and I don't think the Middle Ages is a lost Golden Age. However, I do see this period as the most creative in Western Civilization and its theological work as the most fascinating.

I love being in the classroom as much as writing. There are days that I can't believe I get paid for doing my job (and there are days I look at my paycheck and think maybe I'm not...). There's nothing more exciting for me than watching a student become interested in scholarship and develop the confidence to make a contribution. And, I get to learn things along the way.

One final thing about me: I'm a geek (well, maybe a dork--I can never distinguish these two categories). I love computers and consider myself a very amateur Perl hacker. I have created one electronic text resource (the Electronic Grosseteste:, and two 3DRT models (the Virtual Basilica of St Francis of Assisi and the Virtual York Minster). I am working another electronic text project and I am always looking for more 3DRT projects.

I look forward to the exchange of ideas that this site will hopefully generate.