I used to write these things in the third person, but that seems so silly now. So let’s carry on.
I was born and raised in Alabama where, among other things, I was raised by caring, loving, hardworking, and thoroughly admirable parents, teachers, and friends.
One thing that was not a part of this environment, though, was thorough consideration of the complexities and questions connected with the Christian faith that served as the glue and assumed backdrop for daily life there.
I received my B.A. in Religion from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Upon my arrival, I was unprepared for an experience that many before me, as well as many since, have had; namely, my world of belief was thrown into question. For me, the unfolding of self began with Robert Bolaño’s By Night in Chile — a work of historical fiction that deals with Pinochet-era Chile, during which over 30,000 people were murdered, tortured, or disappeared. The way that Bolaño presented the existence and impact of evil posed a strong challenge to my previously deterministic Christian worldview.
I found myself asking, “Where is God amidst such evil?”
Moreover I wanted to know, “Where are God’s people?”
To put it one way, at this point in my education, I had my first serious contact with theology, but it came through a work of literature and not a work of “theology,” narrowly defined. I highlight this incident because it, as a formative event in my academic life, continues to color the way I approach the discipline of theology. In particular, it impacts my view of the basic questions: “What is theology?” and “Where is it found?” For me, theology is a much broader enterprise than simply surveying a hit parade of key “official” thinkers like Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Barth, Hegel or Pope Leo XIII. Four other writers that I encountered at Wofford have proven influential in my thinking. Those figures are Soren Kierkegaard, James Baldwin, Flannery O’Connor and Fyodor Dostoevsky — figures unlikely to make it onto many lists of major Christian theologians.
Nevertheless, these companions set me off on a path of thinking harder and asking more questions about the nature of God and the role that religion plays both in society and in individual lives. I still consider myself on the path of trying to construct my own answers to these questions.
Given these things, I am particularly interested in the intersection of theology and ethics and I tend to focus, in this space, on how that interaction works itself out in daily life. My undergraduate honors thesis, Can Public Ethics Be Christian? An Examination of 21st Century Ecclesial/Political Discourse, was directed by Dr. A.K. Anderson.
I currently reside in Durham, North Carolina where I am a M.Div Candidate at Duke Divinity School.
I worked for two years as Director of College & Young Adult Ministries at Frazer UMC. Working with highly inquisitive and often skeptical college students I found myself returning to the oft-cited dictum from Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, “Beauty will save the world.” To generations that are increasingly suspicious of truth claims and often unconvinced by moral assertions, beauty has a remarkable appeal. I did my best to connect students to the beauty of God’s abundant love made manifest in God’s unique action in Christ.
The songwriting of Josh Garrels and Austin Crane
The fiction writing of Flannery O’Connor
The screenwriting and directing of Krzysztof Kieslowski and Ingmar Bergman
You can reach me by email at patrick.craig[at]duke.edu