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Below is a short description of my background in theology, politics, and philosophy, and an even shorter list of influences from each of those areas. These lists of resources are partially chronological and partially impactful, although I may not agree with the premise of the work it had a major influence on me at some point in my life.
I grew up Baptist, then served as a minister in a small Baptist church, and then in an Independent Christian church. I loved studying the history of those movements and that eventually led me to study the Reformation and ultimately the correspondence between the Lutheran scholars in Tubingen and the Patriarch of Constantinople. A dear friend recommended the book Augsburg and Constantinople listed below, and my theological perspectives have never been the same. I spent many years reading the patriarchs and studying early church history and theology. Only recently have I come back to reading modern theology and philosophy like that of John Behr, Ephraim Radner, and David Bentley Hart.
Books: Why Revival Tarries: Leonard Ravenhill, Augsburg and Constantinople: George Mastrantonis, On the Incarnation: Saint Athanasius, The Present Perfect: Greg Boyd: Brutal Unity: Ephraim Radner, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought: John Meyendorff, That All Shall Be Saved: David Bentley Hart
Lectures/Sermons: Born to Reproduce: Dawson Trotman, The Passion of Jesus as the Key to Reading Scripture: John Behr, The Story of Simeon Bachos: Brian Zahnd, The Making of the Bible: Tim Mackie
I was raised in a conservative home but we didn’t talk much about politics. My dad was a small business owner and I assumed both my parents were Republicans even though I don’t remember them claiming that as their political affiliation. I served in the United States Marine Corps but questioned my deployment to Iraq. I still consider myself “conservative” but in a radically different way than I used to.
Books : War is a Racket: Smedley Butler, American Spartan: Ann Scott Tyson, Titan: Ron Chernow, Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky, How to Hide an Empire: Daniel Immerwahr, The Age of Acquiescence: Steve Fraser, The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein
Lectures/Movies: The Big Short: Adam McKay (2015), The Tillman Story: Amin Bar-Lev (2010), Snowden: Oliver Stone (2014), Vice: Adam McKay (2018), Spotlight: Tom McCarthy (2015), The Report: Scott Burns (2015), Kill the Messenger: Michael Cuesta (2014)
My first encounter with art that come readily to my mind was an art appreciation class I took in my first year at a community college in my home town. At first I really had not interest in the content of the course until I saw a painting from Caravaggio and something about it struck me. He instantly became my favorite artist, I started reading about his life and works in my spare time, and years later my office was decorated with three replicas of his works, The Calling of Saint Matthew, The Inspiration of Saint Matthew (first attempt), and The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew. I loved the unparalleled, in my mind, realism of his work, but it led me to also hate abstract art. That was until I learned that the Nazis hated abstract art and many artists pushed the boundaries of modernism as a way to “stick it to the Nazis,” which gave me a new appreciation and acceptance of non-representational art.