For quite some time, I have been meaning to return to this little side project of mine. Despite my good intentions, it seems that other tasks have managed to capture the majority of my attention. I suppose initiating a PhD, attempting to settle into the patterns of newly married life, acclimating to the recurrent bureaucratic joys involved in a permanent relocation to the UK, not to mention trying to wrap my brain around the curious behavioral disorders of our cat (Badger) has thus far prevented me from making much real progress with my hobby writing. Next thing I know and six months have gone by. Alas. So for anyone marginally interested in this blog (a bold assumption indeed), my apologies for the long absence. Hopefully, I’ll have a bit more time to stay up to speed.
For now, I’ll try and pick up the conversation again with a nice quote from Graham Ward’s Cities of God:
The community, while one, while many, affirms its location in Christ, but by that very sharing in Christ it participates in the displacement of the body of Christ announced in the breaking of the bread. This is a third aspect of the fracture, which is given more explicit expression in the final dismissal following the eucharistic feeding: ‘Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.’ To employ a distinction found in Michel de Certeau between place (lieu) and space (espace), the ‘we’ is not bound by the institutional place it finds itself in, nor the civic place that locates the institutionalised place. The ‘we’ walks and opens up spaces in and beyond the given and material locale. The we participates in a rhythm of gathering and dispersal that shapes its walking, its pilgrimage. The erotic community it forms transgresses all boundaries. It moves out in love and desire and produces a complex space which cannot be defined, cannot be grasped as such, labelled by sociologists, mapped by geographers. It is itself a fractured and fracturing community, internally deconstituting and reconstituting itself. (p. 154)
You’ll all have to forgive me for my prolonged absence. Since I last posted, I’ve not only formally decided on a PhD program for the Fall, but have also packed up my things and moved half-way around the world in order to get married and start a new life across the pond. I must admit, there’s something quite strange — if not unnerving — about reducing all of one’s material possessions into a handful of little (meticulously packed and carefully weighed) cardboard boxes; frantically tying up a thousand loose ends; bidding a fond farewell to friends, family, beaches, sunshine, In-N-Out, and (of course) the dog; and — with a one-way ticket in hand — moving to the other side of the planet for an indefinite amount of time. Needless to say much has occurred these last few weeks and I’m only just starting to come to grips with it all.
Having finished my MA at the University of Nottingham in 2008, I decided to have a year off to return home, rest, work, and begin the application process. Only in the last month and a half has that season rapidly drawn to a close. After much thought and careful deliberation, I have decided to accept an offer to conduct my PhD studies at the University of Durham. As a doctoral fellow at the Centre for Catholic Studies, I will be working under the joint supervision of Paul Murray and Marcus Pound. As anticipated, my PhD will focus primarily on a critical evaluation of the ecclesial, liturgical, and political place of the works of mercy in the church’s self-understanding, social life, and ethical praxis. During my last visit to Nottingham, I was delighted to discover that I will once again have the privilege of working alongside a good friend and former colleague, Thomas Lynch — who has also been recently awarded a PhD research fellowship at the Centre for the coming year.
Of course that’s not the only big adventure on the horizon. Over Thanksgiving I got engaged to a lovely British girl who lives here in Nottingham. Next month we’ll be throwing caution to the wind and getting married (a very welcome relief after nearly 10 long-distance months of phone cards, timezones, and other unpleasant by-products of transatlantic blues). Thereafter I will be living with her in Nottingham for the next few years while I am working my way through my PhD. From the looks of things I’ll be commuting up to Durham every other week or so, which isn’t an ideal situation but one that present circumstances demand. The positive benefit of this scenario is that I will be able to stay fairly well connected with the post-graduate community at the University of Nottingham — that is, if they’ll have me back!
So that’s the story in brief . . . and of course I’m writing it at 4:30 in the morning because this insidious jetlag has me wide awake in the middle of the night! Once life settles down a bit (and I managed to sleep with more thorough consistency) I’ll turn my attention back onto writing. Until then, all the best and Godspeed.