For our next Faculty Friday, we’d like to introduce Dr. Chelle Stearns, Associate Professor of Theology. Dr. Stearns has a PhD in Systematic Theology from University of St. Andrews in Scotland, a Master’s degree in Christian Studies from Regent College, and an undergraduate degree in music from Pacific Lutheran University. Her academic work has focused on the interaction between theology and music, and she loves to talk about the Christian imagination. She is also passionate about trinitarian theology. As one student recently remarked, “You really do dig this trinitarian stuff, huh?” In the past few years, and in part because of this learning community, Dr. Stearns has been researching trauma and its implications for theology, primarily pneumatology.
Dr. Stearns has recently returned from a year-long sabbatical, during which she was working on a project exploring the role of beauty and art in a world of trauma, and what it might look like to develop a robust theology around trauma and abuse. For more on that, you can listen to her conversation with Dr. Dan Allender on The Allender Center Podcast.
As a violinist, Dr. Stearns brings with her a background in teaching violin and performing in chamber and orchestral settings. She also has a long history of serving in the Church as a musician, teacher and worship leader. She teaches a variety of theology courses including Beauty, Brokenness, and the Cross; Faith, Hope, and Love; Spirituality and the Arts; and The Triune God and Creation, among others!
Dr. Stearns lives in Ballard with her husband, another Dr. Stearns, whom she affectionately refers to as Dave. We interviewed her about some of her favorite things. Here’s what she had to say:
What are you currently reading?
All things Clive Staples Lewis, but that is because I’m teaching on him this summer. I’ve also been reading Frances Young, Colin Gunton, Bessel van der Kolk, Shelly Rambo, Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, James Cone, etc. Not a lot of pleasure reading at the moment.
What have you been listening to lately?
Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony (my orchestra played this not too long ago), the Danish String Quartet’s two CD’s of their folk music arrangements: “Woodworks” and “Last Leaf” (my string quartet even played a few of these on the radio), Brad Mehldau’s album “After Bach,” Your Friendly Neighborhood’s new CD: “Overflow”, Brahms’ 2nd Symphony, and always something by Joshua Redman.
What research do you find yourself drawn to at the moment?
Lament in the Christian imagination, trauma, the art of Jacob Lawrence, Steve Prince, Kerry James Marshall, Ann Hamilton, music and grief (as in Gorecki’s 3rd and Schoenberg’s Kol Nidre).
Any exciting summer plans?
Writing, gardening, and playing with my string quartet!
If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would they be?
Arnold Schoenberg, of course!
If you weren’t in your current profession you’d be…?
How can I imagine doing anything else but teaching theology! But if I’m honest, I’d like to be a back-up singer.
Who is your literary or living hero?
Lately it has been Frances Young, but I think a lot of people and thinkers are amazing. Too many to list here.