Voice of a new theologian

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Dr Joel Hodge has accomplished much for his 30 years of age. The Brisbane-born theologian graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy (Studies in Religion) from the University of Queensland in 2009, released his first book, Resisting Violence and Victimisation: Christian Faith and Solidarity in East Timor, last year, was an assistant professor at St Anselm College in New Hampshire, US (2008-09) and is now a lecturer at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, reports Kairos in an article published by the catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.

Joel grew up in Paddington, an inner-northern suburb of Brisbane, and attended the Marist secondary college at Rosalie. Although he appreciated his education and faith formation at Rosalie, he enjoyed the move to university where he ‘could immerse himself in the intellectual life’. He was studying a double degree in Law and Arts, majoring in politics and history at Queensland University of Technology, but by the end of second year, felt a call to explore religious studies.

He transferred to the University of Queensland, where he undertook Studies in Religion, focused on Biblical Studies. He did so well that his lecturer asked if he would consider doing honours, which he did. Then, while Joel completed his honours, his supervisor asked if he had thought about a doctorate. So, Joel’s progression to becoming an academic and theologian occurred.

"I always had a strong sense of my faith and of a particular calling but going through school I didn’t think I was going to be a theologian. It just started off with a yearning or calling to do more study in this area and to learn more about my faith, the Bible and theology. So, it just developed and doors opened up—it was providence, I suppose, and I’ve just continued on these pathways."

During his academic studies, Joel became involved with a local parish group, Friends and Partners with East Timor. Through this, a relationship between the Brisbane Catholic parishes of St John’s Wood/The Gap and Bardon and the parish of Atabae in East Timor had been established where parishioners would pray for each other, visit each other and provide developmental assistance. In December 2003, Joel travelled with two other young people from the parish to Atabae.

While in East Timor, Joel found out that he had received a scholarship to complete his doctorate at the University of Queensland. He spent 2004 working out the nature and topic of his thesis and knew that he would incorporate his experience in East Timor in his research project. "I wanted to explore questions of faith, violence, the totalitarian state and the Church in the specific context of East Timor," he said.

FULL STORY Dr Joel Hodge (CAM)

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