I cannot recall ever choosing to study religion. Certainly I never intended to, though I remember its perennial tug. After a childhood of dog-earing the religion articles in our family encyclopedias and sifting the decades-old stacks of National Geographic for pieces on culture and belief, this pull drew me finally to Sewanee, TN, where themes of memory, place, and meaning gave shape to religion courses that I initially meant only to complement something else (though I never knew what). I spent five years there, as both a student and undergraduate admission counselor at the University of the South, before coming to Yale in 2009 to pursue a Master of Arts in Religion. Here, my primary interests—the interests that drove me to graduate study—include twentieth-century phenomenology; religion and cartography; space and place theory; and ethical implications of spatial epistemologies.
Maps have been my primary points of inquiry, and the most interesting maps that I study are subtended by rich theological understandings of the places they represent. Some of these themes may be “unorthodox,” but at Yale I engage them in the context of a concentration in the philosophy of religion and a Divinity School that has demonstrated institutional commitment to understanding and celebrating identities that have emerged out of diverse political, cultural, and theological geographies.
Yale is a world-class research university, and the opportunity to work with the Divinity School’s eminent faculty has been as rewarding as the opportunity to seek out relevant courses at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies or the School of Architecture. Supporting interdisciplinary work that is anchored in foundational areas of textual interpretation and the theological tradition, Yale Divinity School prepares me for an academy and a world in which boundaries are becoming decreasingly clear and where it is increasingly important to be able to answer the question, “Where am I?” Eventually, I hope to follow in the footsteps of the teachers who have inspired me most, possibly teaching at the undergraduate level; but for now, though I never anticipated being here, my own answer to that question remains securely, happily, thankfully: Yale Divinity School.