Allen, J(ames) Timothy 1959-
ALLEN, J(ames) Timothy 1959-
PERSONAL: Born March 29, 1959, in Charlottesville, VA; son of James W. and Glenda G. (a musician) Allen; married Jackie Hawkins (a chaplain), June 2, 1984. Ethnicity: "White." Education: University of South Carolina, B.A., 1982; Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, M.Div., 1987; University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, M.A., 1991; Graduate Theological Foundation, Ph.D., 2004. Religion: United Church of Christ.
ADDRESSES: Home—8152 Sylvan Rd., Liberty, NC 27298. Offıce—Randolph Community College, P.O. Box 1009, Asheboro, NC 27204. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Pastor of Congregational church in Chapel Hill, NC, 1987-92; Pastor of United Churches of Christ in Henderson, NC, 1992-97, and Burlington, NC, 1997-2001. Randolph Community College, Asheboro, NC, instructor in the history of religion, 2001—.
MEMBER: American Academy of Religion.
Seasons in the Year: Poems, Prayers, Praise, and Prose, Smyth & Helwys (Macon, GA), 1993.
When the Season Is Dry: A Promise and a Wilderness, Smyth & Helwys (Macon, GA), 1995.
Mothers around the Manger, Smyth & Helwys (Macon, GA), 1998.
A Theology of God-talk: The Language of the Heart, Haworth Press (Binghamton, NY), 2002.
Author of a weekly column for a newspaper in Henderson, NC, and a periodic column for City County magazine, Alamance County, NC. Contributor to periodicals, including Journal of Pastoral Care, Preaching, and Christian Ministry.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A Man of Some Means: Ambitious Values, Evangelical Ways, and Reverend James O'Kelly; God-talk and Myth, an examination of phrases of "God-talk" from a mythical perspective.
SIDELIGHTS: J. Timothy Allen told CA: "Writing is therapy for me. I often have a difficult time explaining what I want to say, so writing helps me to 'speak' to others. Poems and songs occasionally come to mind, so I write them down. Ideas float through my head constantly, so I must write to find some peace of mind. Also, when I read and study, I get new ideas; thus, again, I must write. I am one of those people who can see and make connections with many disparate ideas that most people would never connect to each other. I see this as a way to break down our propensity to stay narrowly focused in our own specializations. Along with this, as I teach students and observe life in general, I hear and see things that eventually become connected. When I tell people of these connections, they often say 'You need to publish that.' Because they want to hear what I have to say, I write for these folks as well.
"I originally modeled my devotional writing after the style of outdoor writer Gene Hill. Then I read Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and that helped me to understand that what I saw in life was often the stepping stone to more writing. Robert Grudin's The Grace of Great Things was an inspiring book for me when I began writing. Parker Palmer's reflections on spirituality have also brought me much vision. Biblical stories often inspire me, and their parallels to everyday life-stories are intriguing. Sometimes I write out of anger. A professor once insinuated that I could not write well. I responded by writing three articles that were accepted in a peer-reviewed journal. Those articles were then turned into a book. Anger, intense emotions of any kind, are great motivators for me.
"My writing process varies. I occasionally write poems. These give voice to deep feelings that are difficult to share openly. Many of these poems become songs that I sing accompanied by my guitar. Life provides me with many observations that I write down into brief devotional pieces. I collect these over the years and put them together into a devotional format. My first book, Seasons in the Year: Poems, Prayers, Praise, and Prose, was literally a loose collection of disparate materials I had written over ten years. I used the framework of the liturgical church year to put it all together. My scholarly work comes from study, observation, and research. My mind is not very logical, so this style of writing is much more difficult for me. Rewriting is the way I make illogical leaps and paragraphs into logical argument. Peer review is a must for this kind of writing!
"Inspiration is multifaceted for me. Sometimes it comes from a sense of 'that's wrong,' so I feel that I must correct a misperception or an inaccuracy. This is what led to my work on God-talk. So many people misinterpret God-talk that I felt somebody had to write a 'grammar,' so to speak. Sometimes inspiration comes from a sense of 'I need to fill that hole' in a particular subject. There is virtually no modern scholarship on James O'Kelly (and what little there is often is inaccurate!), so I set out to fill that gap. O'Kelly, who lived from 1736 to 1826, started the Christian Church in the South. For my other writing, inspiration comes from simply listening to the voice within."