About me

Since January 2015 I have been Professor of TheJMcDowell_00333.JPGology and Director of Research at the University of Divinity, based in Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria.

Prior to that I spent 6 years as Morpeth Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Newcastle NSW (2009-14), and before that Director of Undergraduate Studies and Meldrum Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology at New College in the University of Edinburgh (2000-8).

My undergraduate studies (1989-1993) were undertaken at the University of Aberdeen during which I discovered the joy of reading the Greek Fathers, John Calvin and Karl Barth in particular.  That time was followed by doctoral study at the University of Cambridge (1994-8), under the watchful eye of Nicholas Lash.  Here I especially encountered the writings of Donald McKinnon, Rowan Williams, George Steiner, John Milbank and Herbert McCabe.  I expect my appreciation of these will be lifelong.

Currently I am Associate Editor and Books Review Editor of the theological journal Coloquium, and am now associated as an Executive Board member of Pacifica:  Journal of Theological Studies.

Contact me:  please email through the Research Office of the University of Divinity.

I am marris200_john_c..mcdowell.jpged to Sandra, have 5 feisty children, a very large dog, and a fat ginger tom cat.   While I have so far been unable to carve out a research niche in the area, any ever decreasing spare time involves supporting Liverpool FC, and playing as well as coaching local teams in the ‘beautiful game’.  I still try to fit in a science fiction movie and television series or two when time allows – for research purposes of course.

2 thoughts on “About me

  1. Dear Dr. McDowell,

    In a recent meeting with a fellow theologian, the subject of “Star Wars” came up. He mentioned your book which happened to be resting on his shelf, and I asked to borrow it because I couldn’t wait for online delivery. Two days later I returned it and ordered my own.

    For years I have been trying to explain how movies are another way to preach the gospel — same message, different packaging. From now on, anyone who doubts the obvious biblical underpinnings I’ll just recommend your book. Teachers and preachers should use technology instead of competing with it.

    “Star Wars” is also near and dear to my heart for many reasons. Growing up Catholic, Jesus was nothing more than a historical figure until I met Him at a prayer meeting (40 years ago). I thought I should join the convent but He had other plans. Ever since I can remember I’ve been in love with the brown hooded robe and its arcane beauty and the first time I saw Obi-wan and the Jawas, my heart was forever stolen, and who could ever forget the sound that had to be riveting through everyone. The way I see it, the Jedi order is Franciscanism with a twist and thanks to George Lucas, I went on a “Star Wars” adventure I could not possibly imagine on my own.

    As a classically trained musician, certain movie sound tracks are included in my personal prayer and since John Williams is the most gifted score writer on this planet, the love theme from Episode Two carried me to a world far, far away. I’ve been forever disenchanted with “churchy” art and music and found movies and sound tracks to be a gateway to divine intimacy.

    I share your passion, but I have another and it’s in direct conflict with my friends, my family and everyone around me. I see biblical underpinnings in vampire movies, but few can get past the fact that they are blood sucking demons, even when I’m crystal clear they are metaphors for a higher purpose. The actors who play them play them well as this “fictitious” character has evolved from the walking smelly corpse to the handsome charismatic lover (Twilight). He’s an immortal in constant search of a bride, and he can give her “eternal life.” In 1993 when I saw Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I was literally numb from the experience and walked away with a renewed love for God. Go figure!

    Obviously you are not Catholic, but thanks for your keen sense of openmindedness and your quoting John of the Cross. I studied the mystics and John’s poetry described how I felt back in 93: “And may the vision of your beauty be my death for the sickness of love is not cured except by your very presence and image.” The operative word being image, I’ve been focusing on the face of God, and how certain characters are a “reflection” of the divine countenance and I can prove it scientifically. Women want the Edwards and the Anakin Skywalkers rather than the long haired hippy dude. Wouldn’t you agree?

    That being said, as I’ve tried to keep this brief. Your book has given me much to go on, it’s an invaluable gift, and your last sentence encapsulates what I believe, that the old time values are much needed within the Christina community. There’s too many distractions, too much wealth.

    Thanks for writing “The Gospel According to Star Wars.”

    My sincerest best,

    Christine Abbye

  2. Dear Christine,
    Many thanks for your thoughtful and kind message. It is much appreciated. I am constantly amazed and humbled by the responses I have had to that particular book, especially since it was largely an academic study.
    Best
    John

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