Queering Wesley, Queering the Church: Toward an Ecclesial Circumcision of the Heart

This is my paper presentation from the 2017 meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society.

Abstract: Holiness churches find their name and identity in their understanding and practice of holiness, that is, a certain flavor of Christian living in which the ultimate focus and goal is the perfect love of God and neighbor, exemplified in the life of Jesus Christ. In so doing, these churches often look to the margins, where Jesus would be most likely to dwell—with the poor, the sick, the outcast. John Wesley himself emphasized the importance of being in community and solidarity with the marginalized, not only to help them in their need, but also to engage with and learn from them as the locus of God’s presence in the world.

This paper will offer a queer feminist reading of John Wesley’s 1733 sermon “The Circumcision of the Heart,” in an effort to show that the perspective of LGBTQ+ people has vital contributions to make within the holiness church that so often marginalizes them. Reading John Wesley queerly offers unique insights for thinking holiness—the core aspect of our faith—as an expansive openness to the grace of God rather than a limiting and restrictive legalism. Indeed such a reading will not be “a setter forth of new doctrines,” but will preach only “Jesus and the resurrection.” That which may sound queer to our ears will reflect only “the most essential duties of Christianity”: to love God with one’s whole heart, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself.

The paper will consist of three parts: (1) An analysis of the queerness ofthe concept “circumcision of the heart,” aspresented in Wesley’s sermon and in Scripture, (2) An analysis of holiness as queer, and 3) Some consequences and implications for the life and practice of Wesleyan-holiness churches in light of (1) and (2).

Read the full paper HERE.

We Who Are Many Are One Body: Rethinking the Real Presence of Christ in the Loaf and the Church

This was my term paper for Laurel Schneider's "Theologies of Multiplicity" class. I'm fairly pleased with how it turned out, and I thought others might be interested in reading it.

I draw primarily from Schneider's Beyond Monotheism and from Catherine Keller's Cloud of the Impossible to dialogue with my understanding of real presence in hopes of probing and prompting possibility.

A short abstract: This paper will attempt to re-imagine an understanding of real presence in terms of multiplicity. First I will briefly survey some of the common historical understandings of real presence and how the doctrine functions in the observance of the Eucharist, and point out how these understandings favor obedience to the law of identity over what I argue is a more polydoxically Christian understanding, free of this obligation and open to a multiplicity of identities. Then I will join the cacophonous chorus of constructive theology and rethink what real presence might look like, taking seriously relational ontology and dynamic incarnation, and assert that the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist materializes rhizomatically as the Body of Christ, in and as the flesh and bodies of those who participate in the ritual, such as the many are one and the one is many.

We Who Are Many Are One Body: Rethinking the Real Presence of Christ in the Loaf and the Church


Archive, Anamnesis, & A Real-Beyond-Presence in the Eucharistic Liturgy

The latest issue of Practical Matters journal is live, and I have an article in it!

You can find the article HERE.

Abstract: The purpose and goal of the liturgy and of those participating in it is making space. Space for welcome, for hospitality, for movement, for freedom, for lament, for exultation. Space for absence, certainly; space for presence, perhaps. Without the presence of the people, the presence of elements, expectantly returning to the self-defeating, being-toward-death archive of the liturgy, we cannot experience the Real-beyond-presence we may encounter in Christ there. What I am proposing is that there is a deep interweaving of dependencies at work in the Eucharistic liturgy and the possibility of Real-beyond-presence therein: the text of liturgy, a model of the archive, is necessary as the holding place for forgetting in order to enact the anamnesis—remembrance that requires forgetting. The remembrance requires an absence, an opening, a khora. And it is in this absence, seen in the broken bread and the poured out cup, that we may, perhaps, encounter a Real-beyond-presence.

And definitely check out the Table of Contents--there are a lot of great pieces in this issue related to worship and liturgy. I'm honored to be a part of it.

This is my Body: Deconstruction, Eucharist, and Community

This is the paper Joel Avery and I presented at the Homebrewed Christianity session at AAR this year. It was a great experience, and having Jack Caputo respond on the panel was such a privilege.

We're planning to do some revisions, and the goal is to get it ready for publication with the other papers from the panel and Caputo's response, but for now you can find here the paper as it was read.


As Derrida returned to Plato's writings throughout his life, looking for moments of aporia in each new reading, so too Christians, returning time and again to the Eucharist, open themselves to the possibility of encountering the body of Christ in the presence of the stranger in each new gathering.

Using John Caputo’s work in What Would Jesus Deconstruct? and his interaction with Derrida in Deconstruction in a Nutshell, as well as the work of Louis-Marie Chauvet, we will show how deconstructing the Eucharist in response to the call of the nondeconstructable absent-yet-Real Presence harbored therein yields an encounter in which the Eucharist becomes a deconstructive act that calls into question and breaks down social hierarchies and individualized faith in order to reveal Christ’s broken body in the community that gathers at his table.

We discuss liturgy as a repeated yet singular event--a counterpath of life that we travel as strangers together on our way to the table, where we arrive without ever arriving, and where we see in the face of each stranger the presence of Jesus revealing itself.

We will spend the bulk of the paper demonstrating how these ideas are manifest in the work of two communities-- St. Lydia’s, an ELCA-affiliated “dinner church” in Brooklyn who ground their worship in a deconstructed liturgy centered on a shared meal, and ikonNYC, a group outside the realm of traditional church who explore and deconstruct ideas about faith.



Erasmus, methodological belief, and intellectual hospitality

If you can get past the groan-worthy first sentence (gimme a break, it was years  ago), there's a lot of good stuff in this paper, I think. The idea of "intellectual hospitality" is something that I strive to enact when I engage with others, and I think we can learn a lot more when we are more hospitable.

Also, I just really love Erasmus. 

Abstract: With the assumption that creative interpretation of the past helps us set a trajectory for the future, I explore the life and work of Erasmus of Rotterdam and his role on the “frontier” of Reformation thought in the Western Church. I will argue that his mode of humanistic dialectic serves as an especially promising manner of education, particularly in the area of theology. Further, I investigate the concept of “intellectual hospitality,” and how people—especially students—receive and process information. I relate the practice of methodological belief (as opposed to Cartesian methodological doubt) to Erasmus’s understanding of education and Christianity, and how theological education should be approached by both students and teachers.



Bibliography HERE

Subverting the Norm: Eucharist as Deconstruction

I know, I am SO BEHIND on everything in life right now.

I am still meaning to do a write-up about the Subverting the Norm conference, which was so SO awesome.

For now, though, I did want to make available the paper I presented there. I meant to post it beforehand, but I didn't want to give it all away before my session! I think it was pretty well received, and got some good conversation going--like, if Eucharist breaks down hierarchies, what are we to say about ordination, or the fact that (in many traditions) only certain people may administer the elements?

Anyway, give it a read and let me know what you think!

Abstract:The liturgy of Eucharist is a deconstructive act within the Church in that it calls into question and breaks down hierarchical social structures and individualized faith in order to create a true and unified body within Christ’s broken body at his table. In this essay, I will briefly attempt to elucidate deconstruction, I will make a few points regarding the Eucharist’s sacramental and unifying nature, and then I will show how the Eucharist deconstructs, but also re-constructs, the Church. This deconstruction and re-construction means  recognizing and remembering that we Christians are one, at one table with the Lord, and that for this to be so, we must submit to the breaking down of the structures in which we often find comfort, but which inhibit true communion with each other and with Christ. In order to be re-constructed into the real, present body of Christ, we must allow and embrace the Eucharist as deconstruction.

Paper: CLICK HERE for PDF.

WTS Paper: Uzzah and the Hemorrhaging Woman

I wrote this paper for my Doctrine of Holiness class with Sam Powell in March 2010. And after THREE YEARS, I am so excited that it's finally getting to see the light of day. I'll be presenting it at the Wesleyan Theological Society on Friday afternoon.

Abstract: This paper explores two passages in which unclean hands came into contact with the holy: Uzzah and the Ark of the Covenant in 1 Samuel and Mark’s portrayal of the hemorrhaging woman and Jesus Christ. I contrast the two stories by demonstrating that in the incarnation the fundamental meaning of holiness seen in the Old Testament as separation is broken down and reversed, so that the character and function of holiness becomes that which does not avoid and destroy, but assumes and heals in love. In the incarnation, God is no longer separate from us, but has become like us in unholiness so that we might become like God in holiness. The uniting of the holy and the unholy in Jesus Christ mirrors the new welcome of the unholy into holiness, which will no longer result in our death, but in our healing.


Please let me know if you read it, and what you think. And feel free to ask any questions--I'll try my best to answer them.