I am an aspiring theologienne, a just peacebuilder, a perpetual student, a lapsed poet, an ordained minister, an interfaith activist, a midwestern transplant to the east coast, a cat lady.
I like investigating the encounter between things: religions, cultures, ideologies, tastes, politics, hearts, words. I do so through my job in religious peacebuilding at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where I work with religious actors in conflict zones to transform drivers of conflict and strengthen religious pluralism in divided societies. My PhD program at Georgetown in religious pluralism allows me to do so through scholarship — with a particular focus on Buddhist and Christian theological responses to authoritarianism and violence in Myanmar. When my practitioner and scholarship work isn’t satisfying the itch to explore collisions between worlds, I turn to the creative word, art, travel.
The epistemological gap refers to what the Madhyamikas in ancient Indian philosophy called the dependent origination of all concepts. For folks like Nagarjuna, conceptions only operate as conventional truth, not fully capturing ultimate reality, being as they are constrained by assertions or truth claims that cannot be proven — or that can be continuously broken down to show they are ultimately based on unknowable, unprovable assumptions. This same idea has been articulated in many religious traditions and intellectual movements throughout history. In more contemporary times postmodern thought has shown how no truth claim is ever objective, apolitical, or able finally to transmit stable meaning.
As a theist, I understand the epistemological gap to describe the limits of human knowability of Ultimate Truth and God. Certainly our easily misunderstood human words and concepts (even those found within scripture) cannot bind or define God. Still, the task of the theologian, the intellectual, the poet, or the philosopher is to keep seeking out Absolute Truth — to uncover glimpses of God, to reach out toward the limits of knowability, to express something of the ineffable, with humility and curiosity. These articulations of conventional or part truths can help point us to larger truths, even if we never can jump the epistemological gap (short of enlightenment or salvation).
Some might think this all seems rather cynical — what’s the point of inquiry if we can never fully speak of the divine/truth, ultimately? I have found that discovering the limits of human conception and language can be intellectually and theologically revelatory in itself. Plus: it keeps me humble. And so I keep at it. And I kinda love it.
This personal blog reflects some of my ongoing attempts to keep pushing to the limits – through prayer, poetry, sermons, journaling, and academic inquiry.