My childhood would fall into the category of being a “third culture kid,” caught — and thriving — between two cultures, never quite belonging to one or the other, often comfortable in both, often uncomfortable in either one exclusively. I consider myself fortunate to have had such an experience; it is a lineage I freely choose to continue to embrace.
My life, my formal and informal studies, and my career have reflected this experience of liminality. My undergraduate degrees are in Medieval & Renaissance Studies, and Greco-Roman Civilisation (aka Classics). My particular area of interest ultimately localised in the sixth and seventh centuries, a period not quite Classical and not quite Medieval. Today, more than a decade after graduation, I might have simply majored in “Late Antique Studies.” I suppose my interest in this time period is partially driven by a desire to recreate some of the self-sufficiency of the home and cultivate a world-view which is not entirely Eastern nor Western, Byzantine nor Latin nor Arab; neither Ancient nor High Medieval. Visigothic and Mozarabic Spain, and the Syriac speaking communities of Mesopotamia have long held my particular interest, both being the hinge of empires. This background served me well for my later pursuit of a Master’s degree in Theology.
Religiously, I was raised Catholic, but my teachers provided me with a very strong element of Byzantine Orthodox theology; one could say I was raised Greek Catholic. My parish and family all expected me to become a priest or a monk, and I spent a few months on both Athos and visiting monasteries in the Middle East and Eastern Europe in my mid-twenties. I chose not to become a priest at that time, although I had been accepted into the Greek Orthodox seminary in Boston. (When I came to the States, I formally converted to Greek Orthodoxy. Orthodox Christianity in the States more closely reflected the European Catholicism of my youth than did Roman Catholicism in the States.) The history and development of Jewish theology, both Rabbinic and Kabbalistic has also been of particular interest to me. I live in a household which strives to be observant according to Jewish law (kosher, shomer shabbat).
Most recently, I completed a programme of study in Chinese and Japanese Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (herbalism), concentrating on Classical Chinese medicine as interpreted by Jeffrey Yuen. I have also continued to study the Japanese herbal tradition of Kanpo. I maintain a lively interest in the interaction between basic science and literary or humanities-based research in the Asian medical traditions. This interest has been augmented by travels (why travel if not to learn?) to Beijing, Tokyo, and Mongolia, and I hope to visit Vietnam in the near future.