Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology
Christopher Renz, OP
Phone: 510-883-2084
Office Hours: By appointment
Office Location: West 04



PhD, Northwestern University

MA, Graduate Theological Union

MDiv, Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology 

BS, St. Peter's College

Christopher Renz, OP

Assistant Professor of Religion & the Arts and Science & Theology, Academic Dean

My background as a scientist provides a lens through which I view all of my academic work in philosophy and theology. The net effect is that I am constantly asking myself questions such as, “How does this impact the human person in her or his everyday life?” or “How can this idea enhance one’s faith journey?” My passion in these fields derives from a desire to understand not only the biology of the human body but also the “chemistry” of the human spirit. It is only when taken together that these two disciplines provide useful (practical) insights on human anthropology. I find myself “suspicious” of disciplines like contemporary aesthetics because they have lost this fundamental connection. In its original meaning, “aesthetics” refers to “the senses,” implying that what is beautiful is first experienced as such by the human person. A similar phenomenon has occurred in the debates around contemporary Catholic liturgy. Too often I experience discussions about rite, rubrics, and “authenticity” as wearisome and divisive. The goal of my work in this area is to help (re)engender a capacity for mystery, wonder, and awe in each and every person (both Catholic and non-Catholic). Without this receptivity, attendance at the liturgy lacks that full, active and conscious participation in the Paschal Mystery. So much of contemporary academia has dissociated the experiential and the reflective (analytical) components. I love helping bring them back together and rejoice when I observe students do likewise.

Exploring the role of spirituality and religious practice in patient health, this relatively new field of scientific research has received significant support from the medical community in the last decade. My own interests concern facilitating a conversation between medical experts, philosophers and theologians on the nature of the human person. While science can tell us about the human body, philosophy and theology are important to our understanding of the human person. 

Jacques Maritain, the well-known 20th century neo-Thomist philosopher, noted, “Left to the freedom of its spiritual nature, the intellect strives to engender in beauty.” I am interested to explore the ramifications of such a statement in three particular areas: poetry, Catholic culture, and Catholic worship. The ubiquitous quest for experiences of beauty has implications not only for individuals but also for society. 

My hobbies include hiking, gardening, cooking and baking, choral singing, and genealogy.

Spring 2015    

Pastoral Ministry Internship (FE-2150)

Spring 2013     

Poetry & Creative Intuition (PHRA-4310)

Spring 2012

Food: Does Local Really Matter? (SPST-4065)

Fall 2009

Celebration of the Sacraments (LSFT-2404)

Fall 2006

Biotechnology and Spirituality (STCE-4820)


In this Light Which Gives light: A History of the College of St. Albert the Great (1930-1980). Oakland, CA: Western Dominican Province, 2009.  

Articles and Chapters

"Religion, Spirituality and Health in the New Evangelization," in Trends in Spirituality. Bangalore, India: Asian Trading Corporation (forthcoming).

"Our Daily Bread: Practical Wisdom for Food Purchase & Consumption in a Global Market,"Angelicum 86 (2009): 215-237.

"Brookhurst: The Perry Legacy of Hospitality." Alameda County Historical Society Quarterly XXXIII, no. 4 (Oct 2007).

"Putting the Johannine Pericopes in Context: A Liturgical Approach to Preaching the Scrutinies." Catechumenate 22, no. 6 (November 2000): 20-30.

"Christian Education and the Confirmation Debate: Towards a Theology of Catechesis,"Journal of Christian Education 41, no. 1 (1998): 53-65.

Book Reviews

Timothy J. Demy and Gary P. Stewart, eds. Genetic Engineering: A Christian Response. Kregal Academic & Professional, 1999. CTNS Bulletin 21, no. 3 (Summer 2001): 27-29.
Suzanne Holland, Karen Labacqz, and Laurie Zoloth, eds. The Human Embryonic Stem Cell Debate: Science, Ethics, and Public Policy. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001. CTNS Bulletin 21, no. 3 (Summer 2001): 25-27.


Poems have appeared in the following anthologies and journals:

Oranges from Dominic’s Tree: A New Volume of Poetry; Review for Religious; Commonweal and Cresset

Research interests

Religion/Spirituality and Health Studies; Creative Intuition, Beauty, and Catholic Culture; Catholic Liturgy and Liturgical Piety.

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