David Russell Mosley
PhD in Theology, University of Nottingham 2011-2015
Thesis Title: Being Deified: Poetry and Fantasy on the Path to God
Supervisors: Dr. Simon Oliver and Dr. Mary Cunningham
Brief Synopsis of Research:
This essay examines the importance of deification to Christian theology and the place of human creativity in deification. Deification is an explanatory force for the major categories of Christian theology: creation, fall, incarnation, theological anthropology, as well as the sacraments. Deification explains, in part, the why of creation and the what of humanity: God created in order to deify, humanity is created to be deified; the what of the Fall: the desire for divinity outside of God’s gifts; one of the purposes for the Incarnation: to deify; and what end the sacraments aid: deification. Essential to deification is human creativity for humans are created in the image of God, the Creator. In order to explore this dimension of deification, this essay focuses on works of poetry and fantasy, in many ways the pinnacle of human creativity since both genres cause the making strange of things familiar (language and creation itself) in part to make them better known, particularly as creations of the Creator. Therefore, this essay utilises the work of fantasy writers and poets in order both to show the importance of fantasy and poetry for theology in general and for their importance in human deification.
Research and Teaching Interests:
My research and teaching interests include the interplay between theology and literature/poetry, Catholic imagination, fantasy and theology, asceticism and spiritual disciplines, patristic and medieval theology, liturgical theology, sacramental theology, sacramental ontology, Catholic theology, Ressourcement theology, Distributism, and Catholic Social Teaching.
2011-2015 PhD, Theology, University of Nottingham
2009-2011 MA, Church History and Historical Theology, Lincoln Christian University
2005-2009 BA, cum laude, Biblical Exposition, Lincoln Christian College
June 2017-Present, Dean of Humanities, Holy Family Academy
Including teaching a full course load (four courses each semester in English and theology), as Dean of Humanities, it is my job to work with our other humanities teachers (in theology, philosophy, English, History, and Latin) to standardize our writing standards, oversee various activities such as the National Latin Exams and Poetry Out Loud, keep in touch with students and parents concerning both students who are falling behind as well as students who excel.
April 2017-June 2017, English Teacher, Holy Family Academy
I served as a fill-in for a maternity leave. I taught English classes to students in 8th, 10th, and 11th grade. In these classes we did close readings of texts such as Romeo and Juliet, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” Pride and Prejudice, and The Inferno. In this role, I graded papers both of creative writing and literary analysis, gave lectures on the Catholic Imagination and Medieval Cosmology, and led various class discussions.
September 2016-Present, Preceptor, Signum University
As a preceptor for Signum University, it is my job to organize and conduct weekly one hour seminars for whichever classes I am assigned. To date I have been assigned to the graduate level class Tolkien and Tradition which does close readings of medieval texts such as parts of the Kalevala, Icelandic folklore, and Arthurian legend and compare and contrast them to Tolkien’s retelling of those same stories. In my discussions, I set questions based on the readings and lectures and guide the students through the discussion focusing on aspects of comparative literature, as well as ancient/medieval and modern philosophy and theology as they are relevant to the texts we are reading. I also grade essays on these topics.
May 2015-Present, Lecturer in Theology, Johnson University
Over the course of several months I have developed both a Trinitarian theology course (a 300 level class) and a Fundamentals of Theology course (a 200 level class) for online, seven week long, undergraduate core classes. Creating these courses involves utilizing the online platforms Sakai, Warpwire, and Screencast-o-matic. I recorded seven weeks’ worth of lectures as well as determine the proper readings for the course, the questions for discussion forums, and the essay topics. I have taught my own version of the Trinitarian theology class several times, which involved teaching nearly 40 students, leading them through primary texts from Gregory of Nazianzus to Leonardo Boff, and grading research papers on the Trintiy. I have, to date, only taught someone else’s version of the Fundamentals course, but am in the midst of my own redesign of that course.
October 2013-December 2013 Teaching Assistant, University of Nottingham
Each week I led a seminar for the module Philosophy of Religion. The seminars consist of discussions concerning major figures in the continental philosophical tradition from Spinoza to Darwin. Engaging 15-25 students, from varying religious and non-religious backgrounds, each week I led them in discussing the salient points from primary texts and to compare and contrast with previous texts discussed in the course.
October 2012-January 2013 Teaching Assistant, University of Nottingham
Each week for the module, History of Christian Thought to 1600, I led a seminar group of 15-20 students, from Christian, Muslim, and non or other religious backgrounds, in discussions about primary texts from the Christian tradition. I engaged with both non-Christian and Christian students in discussing the major points of various texts covering 1600 years of Christian history. For this module I also marked essays and exams for both grammar and content. There was occasion for me to give a lecture on the Grace Debates of the Fifth Century, examining the thoughts of Pelagius, Augustine, and John Cassian.
August 2010-May 2011 Adjunct Faculty, Lincoln Christian University
In the 300 level classes (two classes over one year), which cover history, literature, art, philosophy and science, of our Interdisciplinary program, I lead a section of 14-17 students. This entailed reading and grading their weekly research assignments for both form and content; discussing primary texts which they and I had read from the time periods discussed in the class (c Fifth-Nineteenth Centuries); grading major research projects for both form and content; creating questions based on the lectures for examinations at least three times a semester.
January 2010-May 2011 Library Student Worker, Lincoln Christian University
Working in the Library at Lincoln Christian University requires me to help patrons find the books and resources they need to complete their projects. Also, it frequently requires taking the books recently checked-in and returning them to the correct place on the shelves. Often, I am asked to work on online guides to make researching in certain areas (Old Testament, Church History, Theology, etc.) easier for our students. Occasionally, I am asked to write and record scripts for online videos and podcasts to the same end. Daily, I either check-in books from other schools (returns and for our patrons) or prepare books to be returned and sent to other schools with whom we share our resources.
My skills include interpersonal relationships, conflict handling, knowledge of subjects such as Church History, Systematic Theology, Liturgy, Catholic Social Teaching, English literature, and others. I have a rough knowledge of Greek and Latin, and a small amount of knowledge in Hebrew. I work well with computers and have verbal and written communication skills.
Being Deified: Poetry and Fantasy on the Path to God. Fortress Press, 2016.
On the Edges of Elfland: A Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2016.
Slaying Dragons: How My Son’s Battle with Cancer Helped Me See the Cosmos; Eugene: Wipf and Stock, Forthcoming.
“To Be a Tree: Reflections on Ents, Fairies….” Convivium (2017) 1: 33-42.
“The Deifying Trinity: How Gregory Nazianzen and Augustine of Hippo Use Deification to Explain the Trinity.” Studia Patristica (2014) 72: 147-156.
“Roger White, Judith Wolfe, and Brendan Wolfe, eds., C. S. Lewis and his Circle: Essays and Memoirs from the Oxford C.S. Lewis Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. 288 pp. Review.” Sehnsucht: The CS Lewis Journal (2015) 9: 121-122.
“Khaled Anatolios, ed., The Holy Trinity in the Life of the Church. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014. 272 pp. Review.” Stone-Campbell Journal. (Fall 2015) 18, 2: 262-263.
“Miguel A. de la Torre and Albert Hernandez,. The Quest for the Historical Satan. Fortress, 2012. 248 pp. $20.00. Review.” Stone-Campbell Journal (Spring 2014) 17, 1:87-155.
“Ruth A. Tucker. Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011. 509 pp. $39.99. Review.” Stone-Cambpell Journal (Fall 2012) 15, 2:246-249.
Conference Papers and Presentations
“Is the Eucharist a Faërie Road: Reflections on Sacramental Ontology, Faërie, and the Artist.” Presented at the Trying to Say “God” Conference, University of Notre Dame 24 June 2017.
“Commonly Fed: Aquinas on the Incarnation and the Eucharist and Their Implications for the Dinner Table.” Presented at the Patristic, Medieval, and Renaissance Conference, Villanova University 14 October 2016.
Abstract: In the Summa Theologiae, Aquinas tells us, “for, as water is used in the sacrament of Baptism for the purpose of spiritual cleansing, since bodily cleansing is commonly done with water; so bread and wine, wherewith men are commonly fed, are employed in this sacrament for the use of spiritual eating” (ST IIIa. 74, 1). In Summa contra Gentiles, he writes, “Spiritual effects were fittingly given under the likeness of things visible (as was said); therefore, spiritual nourishment of this kind is given to us under the appearances, of the things which men rather commonly use for bodily nourishment. Bread and wine are of this sort. Accordingly, this sacrament is given under the appearances of bread and wine” (SCG 61). In both of these instances, Aquinas argues for the fittingness of the elements of bread and wine in the Eucharist on the basis that these are foods with which humans are commonly fed. This is not, for Aquinas, the sum total of their fittingness, but it is an essential aspect. Because we eat these foods most commonly (or did at any rate) they are fitting carriers for the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist. It will be my argument that because of this implied fittingness there is a way in which we can see bread and wine, and therefore food in general, outside of the Eucharist have a participatory relationship with the Eucharist. Specifically, I will argue that, based on Aquinas’ understanding not only the Eucharist, but of the Incarnation, the analgoia entis, and the Five Ways, the food we commonly eat has been transformed by its inclusion in the Eucharist.
This paper will begin by laying establishing that for Aquinas God creates in order to share his perfections (ST Ia. 2, 3). This will establish that created things can somehow share in God’s perfections in a participatory and analogical way. Next, I will argue that for Aquinas the Incarnation has effects for all humanity, and by extension, all creation (cf. ST IIIa. 1, 1-3). This general transformation of humanity caused by the unification of human nature to the Divine in the person of the Son allows us to consider a similar claim concerning food and the Eucharist. Specifically, I will argue that by using the common elements of bread and wine as the vehicles for Christ’s presence in this sacrament––a kind of recapitulation, or continuation of the Incarnation itself––bread and wine in specific, and therefore food in general, is transformed in a similar fashion to humanity’s general transformation by the Incarnation. I will then conclude, briefly, with the suggestion that this makes all our meals participants in the meal of the Eucharist, that the altar is also rightly a table, specifically, a dinner table.
“Avoiding Shortcuts: The Doctrine of Deification in Conversation with C. S. Lewis and the Church Fathers.” Presented at the Centre for Philosophy and Theology’s Conference on The Soul, St Anne’s College, University of Oxford 29 June 2013.
Abstract: This paper seeks to show that human attempts at auto-deification are fruitless when compared with Christian notion of deification. We begin by examining the human desire to be God. We will show how this desire is actually inherent to humans, but that it can be easily misapplied. Looking at the human desire to be God will also provide a brief opportunity for discussion concerning what a human is and why the desire to be God is inherent to humans. In order to understand both the Christian notion of deification and human attempts at auto-deification, we will look primarily, but not exclusively, at the Church Fathers and C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy. Lewis’s Space Trilogy provides excellent examples of humanity’s desire to be God, and will prove an interesting and helpful interlocutor for understanding auto-deification. We will thus first compare the temptations proffered by Weston to the Eve of Perelandra with the Genesis account of the Fall. Then we will assess the attempts at auto-deification attempted by the group known as the N.I.C.E. in That Hideous Strength with a brief reference to Weston’s attempt in Out of the Silent Planet. The paper will then turn to study the Christian notion of deification, particularly as developed by the Church Fathers. Here the emphasis will be to understand what deification is in a Christian sense. Finally, the paper will show how the Christian notion of deification critiques the attempts made in Lewis’s Space Trilogy, noting especially the impacts this has for life now.
“The Deifying Trinity: How Gregory Nazianzen and Augustine of Hippo Use Deification to Explain the Trinity.” British Patristics Conference, University of Exeter, 6 September 2012.
Abstract: Gregory Nazianzen is well known for his defense of the Trinity in his Theological Orations. The same can be said for Augustine of Hippo and his De Trinitate. These two authors share more than defense of the Trinity in their most well known documents on this subject. Each author, in an attempt to give evidence for, thereby providing a defense of, the doctrine of the Trinity uses the language of deification to explain how the Son and Spirit are fully God as the Father is God and how the believer relates to them. This paper concisely and closely studies two of Gregory’s Theological Orations (Ors. 30 and 31) and book 4 of Augustine’s De Trinitate to show that, and how, these authors use the language of deification in their defense and explanation of the Trinity. For Gregory and Augustine, salvation (and salvation through deification) and how the believer is to live in light of that salvation is essential when coming to discuss the doctrine of the Trinity. That each author refers to the language not only of salvation but deification and that contemporary theologians ought to keep this in mind today is argued in the body of this paper.
“‘See I made you like God,’ (Exodus 7): in defence of the incarnation in Athanasius and John Cassian.” A Celebration of Living Theology: Engaging with the Work of Andrew Louth, University of Durham, 10 July 2012.
Abstract: In Athanasius’ Orationes contra Arianos, Athanasius uses Exodus 7:1 and Psalm 81:1 (LXX) to argue that the Son must have always been divine and the Son, in order to deify human beings. Nearly a century later, Cassian would use Exodus 7:1 and Psalm 81:6 (LXX) in his De incarnatione Christi contra Nestorium haereticum to show that the word “god” applies differently to human beings and Jesus. In both instances these Scriptures are used to defend the full divinity of the Christ.
This paper will: (i) explore the interrelation of Athanasius and Cassian; the arguments made by Athanasius and Cassian and how they compare; (ii) note how the new context of Pelagianism and Nestorianism leads Cassian to shift theological emphases; (iii) noting that while Cassian does not use Athanasius’ language of deification, from this and other passages it is clear that Cassian subtly assented to the notion of deification.