David Michelson is the Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity, Vanderbilt Divinity School. Professor Michelson leads our next Community Breakfast titled, Who are the Christians of Syria and Iraq? on Thursday, February 5 at 7:30 a.m. For our readers to become acquainted with Professor Michelson, we asked him to respond to three questions.
1. Name one or two places (events, etc.) that were formative influences in your life.
Two places would be my parent’s library and Romania in the last days of its Communist dictatorship. I count my parents as the most important intellectual and spiritual influence on my life. Being raised by academic minded parents meant that I had the unusual blessing of a large library at home. Those books opened doors of conversation with past generations of humanity that continues to drive my curiosity in the present. Another formative event was being able, with my family, to observe first hand and in some small way participate in the Romanian revolution of 1989 which overthrew the dictatorship. Seeing these events up close focused my attention on the place of humanity’s social and spiritual needs in history.
2. What spiritual/meditative disciplines, if any, do you practice?
I have several disciplines that I fail at regularly, especially reading Christian scripture and prayer. Currently I follow the 19th-century reading calendar of Robert Murray M’Cheyne as adapted by Don Carson. In prayer I have found the eastern Christian practice of prayer without ceasing to be humbling and sustaining.
3. Are you on social media? Do you have any blog/social media, journal, newspaper recommendations?
I post infrequently on twitter (@davidamichelson) but really just as a way to communicate with a small group of people about shared scholarly interests. Information about some of my research can be found on the blog of a project I co-direct, www.syriaca.org. I actually recommend not spending too much time on social media or any other highly mediated streams of rapid or instant communication which may reduce the range of what is possible in our inter-personal interactions with others.
Register for the Community Breakfast here: https://divinity.vanderbilt.edu/news/breakfasts.php