Meet Kory Douglass
Name: Kory Douglass
Hometown: Fox Point, WI
Home church: United Methodist Church of Whitefish Bay
Denomination: United Methodist
Degree program: MTS with a concentration in Theology and Ethics
Other Degrees: BA (English, Spanish, Certificate in European Studies) and MA (English-Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies)
Tell us a little about yourself and your research interests:
Overall, I’m interested in poststructural and panentheistic approaches to Christianity. I have found discourse on process theology and theopoetics quite influential too, and all of these concepts work together harmoniously. After I get my MTS, I plan on applying to PhD programs and would enjoy being a theology professor in the future. Sensible and intricate theology is still important for Christians in the 21st century, even with the increased emphasis on embodied theology via social/environmental justice work we see going on in the Church. It doesn’t have to be an either/or thing. Constructive theology without embodied theology is empty and morally suspect, but justice work without constructive theology can fail to see how particular causes fit within a larger picture. My current work looks at objectification as systemic sin and how Christians, in contrast, should affirm the chaotic, interconnected nature of life (and the responsibilities that come with such a worldview).
How did you come to choose Garrett Evangelical?
I am on the Deacon track to ordination in the United Methodist Church and come from the Wisconsin Conference. I had heard very positive things about Garrett-Evangelical and was pleased to have such a great seminary so close. Also, when I visited, I felt very comfortable and welcome. Before coming to Garrett-Evangelical I had been in graduate school at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and while there are certainly things I appreciate about Knoxville, it was great to be able to live and study in the Midwest again. I’m definitely glad to be here.
What has surprised you about yourself and/or about theological education since you started at Garrett-Evangelical?
My biggest surprise was realizing that Garrett-Evangelical is primarily focused on racial social justice. I had encountered critical race theory in my studies before, so, as a white student, it was not the shock it might be for some, but I had not anticipated how much of a central factor it would be in my courses. This is good for me, as I have been encouraged to think even more about the privileges I experience as a white person in the United States. I’m thankful to be at an institution that is so willing to promote conversations on racial social justice and challenge the watered-down theology so pervasive in the Church.
What class and/or professor has made the biggest impact on you (so far)? Why?
My favorite class at Garrett-Evangelical so far has been my January Term Intro to Theology course with Dr. Tim Eberhart and Kate Hanch. I appreciated how the course introduced the class to a wide range of theological perspectives and dividing the days up by doctrine was a helpful way to have us ponder and develop our own beliefs about doctrines (regarding God, creation, humanity, sin, etc.). I also enjoyed the way the course had both a lecture and a discussion component. The discussions I was a part of in the class were some of the most honest and productive theological discussions I’ve had in seminary and it was because the instructors really valued what everyone had to say, whatever their theological orientation.
How do you hope to use your academic study and research in the future?
I really would like to teach theology courses at a theological school, though I realize the field is changing and constructive theology may be fading away as a discipline. Whatever it looks like in the future, I want to be there, encouraging students to analyze their beliefs logically, to engage relevant issues that matter (or should matter) to them, and discerning how they can talk about their beliefs articulately and graciously with people of other theological trajectories. I hope to help students learn how to make friends across the theological aisle while still staying true to the causes they are passionate about.
What advice would you give someone who is considering pursuing theological education?
I would say to this person that, assuming you are financially and logistically able to attend without causing major problems in your life, they should definitely pursue theological education. Even if you do not want to be a pastor and even if you do not want to be ordained, the Church needs more well-informed Christians out there. Also, find the right balance between taking into account other people’s perspectives and trusting your own intuition. Your theological beliefs, whatever they are, will not appeal to everyone, or even everyone on a particular side of the theological aisle, and that’s okay. Keep an open mind, but don’t sell your own experiences short either. Seminary education is not about being a vessel and having your instructors fill you with knowledge. Or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s about letting your instructors guide you in the theological workshop and seeing what kind of new theology you can create, that no one else could, that matters to you, others, and God.