Whitworth Theology Department Annual Newsletter 2017
Jonathan Moo (2010- present) Associate Professor of Theology
I have been on sabbatical in England this year, where I've been based in the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion as a visiting scholar at St. Edmunds College in the University of Cambridge. It has been a wonderful year of writing, research and seminars, with just a little teaching. I'm excited to say that I've finished a book, co-authored with my father, which provides what I think is the first book-length biblical theology of creation care. It should be published later this year, with Zondervan, under the title Creation Care: A Biblical Theology of the Natural World. My students will perceive just how much my teaching and discussions with them have shaped this book. I have divided the rest of my time this year between two projects: my commentary on Revelation and a new multi-year project in science, faith and the environment on a theology of limits and belonging.
It's been a gift to have time for research, to have access again to world-class libraries, to interact with academics from across the disciplines and from around the world, and to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. It's also been a joy this year to live in a wonderfully diverse international neighborhood, to be part of a vibrant and caring church, and to enjoy all the benefits of life here, especially the incredible music, art, theatre, food and easy travel around Europe.
A highlight this spring was traveling in Turkey for a couple of weeks, this time with my wife, Stacey, who now shares my love for this marvelous country. I hope we might be able to take students there again in the future. We've also spent time in Italy this year, where Stacey has deepened her ties with her father's homeland and her family who still live in Sicily. Stacey has spent this year working on her M.A. in the history of Byzantine art at the Courtauld Institute in London, and her dissertation is on Norman Sicily, so we've had both personal and academic reasons to visit! It's been a privilege to learn from Stacey about what the magnificent art of Sicily reveals about the mix of peoples and religions that shaped its culture, from Greek and Latin Christians to Muslims and Jews.
Stacey has really thrived this year, and this in the midst of an extraordinarily intense schedule. I remember some crazy-busy years of work when I was a full-time student and employed nearly full time, but I don't know that I've ever seen anyone work as hard as she has. But she's loved it. And I'm pleased to report that Whitworth is giving her the opportunity to teach medieval art history next year, and so Stacey will get the chance to share some of her knowledge and enthusiasm with Whitworth students.
One of the best outcomes of this year for me is that, as grateful as I am for it and as much as I needed this sabbatical for my research, I also can't wait to get back to my students and colleagues at Whitworth. I do love teaching and really miss my students when I'm away.
So returning to Washington this past January to teach Ecology and the Bible for three weeks at Tall Timber was life-giving. Not surprising, perhaps: we studied my favorite subjects, plus there's some of the most beautiful mountains in the world, deep snow, cold, starry nights, woodstoves, ancient forests (all the trees of which my students learned to identify!), clear rivers, American dippers, skiing, snowshoeing, nature journaling, music, singing, stories, games and poetry. Class sessions this year were interrupted by such things as a snowshoe hare popping out of a snow bank and dashing around the students, a bobcat loping across a snowy meadow, and, most inexplicably, the sudden decision of the entire class in the middle of a lecture to attack me, carry me outside, and toss me in the snow. There were also nights of tears and crying out to God together, and many students brought deep hurt and pain with them to Tall Timber. And there were frozen water pipes, a mice infestation, and huge avalanches. (Okay, the avalanches were actually among the coolest things that happened. And, I hasten to add, for any parents or administrators reading this, we witnessed the avalanches from the safety of the lodge). The point is that there were hard things, too.
But what makes Whitworth the best place I know to be a professor or a student is not only the chance to offer and participate in interdisciplinary classes like Ecology and the Bible in beautiful places like Tall Timber Ranch. It is the deeply rooted commitment among faculty, staff and students to genuinely share our lives together, to love each other, carry each other's burdens, and seek after truth. The uniqueness of this community, nurtured and sustained only by God's grace in Christ through the power of the life-giving Spirit, makes it the best context I can imagine in which to teach and learn. It's worth fighting for. So please continue to pray for all of us at the university, stay involved, and keep in touch.