Education: Stanford, BA (Classics); Trinity College, Ireland, M.Litt. (Classics); Talbot, MA (Spiritual Formation); UC Irvine, Ph.D. (English).
At Biola since: 1996
• Chair, department of English, 2002-2005
• Dean of Humanities & Social Sciences, 2005-2008
• Associate Dean of Spiritual Development, 2008-2011
• Dean of Spiritual Development, 2011-present.
My StrengthsFinder top five: Connectedness, Learner, Intellection, Ideation, Input.
1. What do you do in your job (briefly)? I get to think about & facilitate how we can discern the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and cooperate with it.
2. The five (or so) most influential books you've read: Besides the Scriptures, of course… can I do authors instead?
• Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, Notes from Underground
• Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island; Ascent to Truth
• Stanley Hauerwas, Resident Aliens; Truthfulness and Tragedy
• Jean-Pierre DeCaussade, Self Abandonment to Divine Providence; The Sacrament of the Present Moment
• Eugene Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, The Jesus Way.
• Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow, Essays & Poems
3. An influential person in your life or best example of love? I’m thinking of two friends who are pastors, both characterized chiefly by humility and obedience.
4. Why are you at Biola? Because the university is committed to biblical integration and spiritual development.
5. Your testimony in 200 words or less?
I came to Christ as a junior higher, drawn by how brilliantly the Scriptures threw light on the human condition. Filled with the Holy Spirit, I was also filled quite a bit with myself and how church/bible study/teaching could be a place for over-achievement. For much of my Christian life, God has been calling and drawing me away from an identity based in what I can do for Him (really, myself) and into an identity based on what He’s done for me. Still trying to open to that.
6. If God put you completely in charge of creating Heaven, what would it be like? Lots of time to read, and then lots of time to talk about reading with others over meals.
7. What is the most difficult choice you’ve ever had to make? What made it difficult? What factors helped you make that choice? Leaving church ministry for a Ph.D. in English. It was hard to know where I would thrive more. If I recall, the chief decision-making factor was my immaturity—I hated the feeling of my inadequacy--that I couldn’t meet everyone’s needs. Someone should’ve told me that that’s how your learn humility and dependence.
8. What are five things you are most thankful for in your life right now? Dottie (my wife), Carly & Abbey (my daughters), Friends, A job.
9. What job do you fantasize about having? Having my own radio show where I get to interview whomever I want (but mostly novelists and rock stars).
10. Last book you read? Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms.
11. A brush with fame or celebrity? I once carved a Thanksgiving turkey with Nicholas Cage. And yes, the rumors are true, the actress Courtney Cox is my sister-in-law. I’ve been married to her sister, Dottie, for 20 years.
12. Which fictional character do you most resemble? I can be very Eeyore-ish on bad days.
13. Who plays you in your bio-pic? Kenneth Branagh.
14. What’s your ringtone? Beck, “Walls”
15. Favorite electronic device? My Espresso Maker (you do have to plug it in)
16. What do your friends say is your best quality? Reflectiveness (is that a word?)
17. What natural talent do you wish you had? Drawing
18. What is your life theme song? “Oh How I Hate To Get Up in the Morning,” Irving Berlin
19. Do you believe in love at first sight? When applied to desserts, yes.
20. Do you think it is possible to live with no regrets? If regret means sadness, no. If regret means self-loathing, yes.
21. What is your definition of success? Abiding in God. Do you consider yourself to be successful? Sometimes.
22. How much is your self-worth and identity determined by your job and your success at it? That’s my Achilles heal. It has mattered a lot.
23. What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen? My daughters, still. After that, Boyd’s Lake Resort in Wisconsin, late July.
24. In what areas of your life is it most difficult to trust God? That what I’m able to do is enough.