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Friday, December 6, 2013

Tara Isabella Burton: Secular Theologian

Tara Isabella Burton is a writer who's essays, reviews, and travel writing can be found in The Atlantic, Los Angeles Review of Books, SalonConde Nast Traveller, and many others. She also attends Trinity College at Oxford where she is currently working on her doctorate in theology although she isn't a person of faith. Tara's secular and politically liberal mother wasn't too thrilled when she decided to study theology, believing that a degree in theology would be as useless as speculating about the number of angels that can fit on the head of a pin. Burton, by contrast, argues that the study of theology is important, not just for people of faith, but for those who care about history, humanity, and culture. Through her studies she says that she's able to get inside the hearts and minds, fears and concerns, of people vastly different from herself but who shape much of the world. "To study theology well," she argues, "requires not faith, but empathy" (Source: Christian Century).

Too bad more secularists (e.g., Richard Dawkins who's also at Oxford) don't share her outlook on life, and rather than deriding or making fun of those who differ from them, actually tried to understand and empathize with them. I dare say that we'd be one step closer to having a civil society.

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