CATCHING UP WITH…ANNIE DIMOND
In a new series of blog posts, we catch up with some of our former Logos Institute students to hear more about their dissertation work and to hear about what they have been doing since. In this post, we catch up with Annie Dimond who studied the MLitt in Analytic and Exegetical Theology from 2017–2018.
What did you write your dissertation about?
My dissertation was entitled “Questioning Secure Pursuits: Exploring the Helplessness and Agency at the Heart of ‘Theology’s Epistemological Dilemma’”. The question I was exploring was really a practical theological question, as it was grounded in the experience of wondering how we come to have knowledge of God. In the project, I examined different ways of thinking about what kinds of power we do and do not have if we want to maintain a “high view of knowledge and a low view of the unaided capacities of the human knower to self-secure such knowledge,” that is, if we buy the “reformed solution.”
How did you come up with the idea for the dissertation?
Well, I think I came up with it by noticing what responses came up in me as we read Kevin Diller’s book “Theology’s Epistemological Dilemma.” I also think that, given some fairly re-orientating experiences I’ve had with God, I have often wondered what it would be like if I did not have those. And, beyond that, when I remember those experiences, I wonder what kind of “power” I had in those experiences, with regard to what I came to know about who God is.
What have you being doing since you finished the Master’s programme? And have you thought any more about the dissertation topic since?
Since I finished the Masters, I’ve been working on a PhD in Practical Theology at the University of Aberdeen with John Swinton and Katie Cross. I am writing a theological ethnography on the practice of chaplaincy “for all faiths and none” in the UK context. It is equal parts theological – anthropological – sociological – philosophical – and historical. So, I suppose I love interdisciplinarity, and find it to be an important challenge to learn how to bring disciplines together in meaningful ways.
I have thought a lot about my dissertation topic. Fairly regularly. I have sent it to a couple of people with whom I converse about such things. And I’d actually say that it was foundational clarity for setting up the coaching practice that I started up a few months after I finished the project. It helped me make sense of what I mean and don’t mean when I talk about what it means to be an “agent” in the knowledge-seeking process.
But, actually, one of the papers I wrote for the Reconciliation (Human and Divine!) seminar has also made its way into almost weekly conversations. I found the writing of both papers to be great exercises, which forced me into making some distinctions I would not have otherwise made. In both these cases, and in different ways, I thought about how different kinds of postures create certain types of relationships with the possible objects of our knowledge, and therefore, make certain kinds of knowledge im/possible.
How did the interdisciplinary engagement of philosophy, theology, and biblical studies help you in the writing of your dissertation?
Well, I suppose there is a lot that could be said here, but particularly for my project, philosophy has some of our best language for talking about how we know things. There are seemingly endless ways to think about knowledge! But, since I wanted to think about knowledge of God, that is obviously a theological question and as I studied it, a theological dilemma. But, since the dilemma implies some kind of helplessness on the part of the human knower, it is hard to know how to make sense of certain passages in scripture about “seek and you shall find” or “seek me and you shall find me when you seek me with all of your heart.” So I suppose, these three disciplines helped me think around and through a fairly practical question that people seeking to know God would have.