PhD, Northwestern University
MA, Graduate Theological Union
MDiv, Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology
BS, St. Peter’s College
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 goal is to understand not only the biology of the human body but also the “chemistry” of the human spirit. I believe that such “scientific exploration” augments our foundational approach here at DSPT in the interface between philosophy and theology.
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. By (re)engendering a capacity for mystery, wonder, and awe in each and every person, the Catholic Church will make a profound contribution to the new evangelization, and redirect the faithful to a life that participates more fully and consciously in the Pascal Mystery itself.
Of course, the Dominican Order has had a long relationship with the fine arts. Our recently deceased Fr. Michael Morris had begun a new project on Dominican artist since the nineteenth century and had compiled a list of over 300 names! The motto of the Order, Veritas, points us not only in the direction of Truth but also the siblings of Goodness and Beauty. Our emphasis at DSPT on the integration of philosophical and theological inquiry encourages a deep exploration of this tri-fold relationship. My own interests in liturgical anthropology explores the profound impact that the fine arts can and should have on Catholic worship and culture. I hope that professionals who work in the sacred arts (architecture, visual arts, and music) would come to DSPT to explore these issues and understand more clearly how to apply their own expertise to facilitate our praise and worship of God.
The last two decades have seen a significant expansion in research dedicated to exploring the role of spirituality and religious practice in patient health. My own interest in this field focuses on facilitating a conversation between health care professionals, scientists, philosophers and theologians on the nature of the human person. While science can tell us about the human body, philosophy and theology augment our understanding of the human person.
Through recent participation on the national advisory board for the “Science for Seminaries” Project sponsored by the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) I found great delight and excitement in helping others discover creative ways to bring science into the seminary curriculum.
My hobbies include hiking, gardening, cooking and baking, choral singing, and genealogy.
Courses taught by Chris Renz, OP:
Foundations of Catholic Liturgy: The Ongoing Work of Jesus Christ (LSRA 1500)
Liturgical Anthropology (LSRA-3500), recipient of a grant from the Templeton Foundation. Read more.
Poetry & Creative Intuition (PHRA-4310)
Food: Does Local Really Matter? (SPST-4065)
Editor. Putting on Christ - ineffable splendor and liturgical vestments (Oakland, CA: Albertus Magnus Press, Fall 2019).
Editor. Ecce Homo - devotional expressions of hardship and healing in the Americas (Oakland, CA: Albertus Magnus Press, Fall 2017).
Editor. Via Pulchritudinis - fine handpress printing in the Dominican tradition (Oakland, CA: Albertus Magnus Press, Fall 2015).
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
“Liturgy and Fine Arts on Campus in College Education: Blase Schauer, O.P. and the ‘Las Cruces Experiment'” in Preaching With Their Lives - Dominicans on Mission in the United States After 1850. Edited by Margaret M. McGuinness and Jeffrey M. Burns. Fordham University Press, 2020.
“The Hymn of Creation and the Divine Office,” in Sacred Sounds - exhibition booklet, Spring 2019 (Berkeley, CA: Doug Adams Gallery, 2019).
“The Role of Catholic Imagination and Domestic Church in Niche Construction: A Summary Report on the DSPT Conference,” Listening (Winter 2017), 52 (1): 4-15.
“A Privileged Pathway,” in Via Pulchritudinis - fine handpress printing in the Dominican tradition (Oakland, CA: Albertus Maguns Press, 2015).
“Liturgical Piety, Awe, and Beauty in a New Liturgical Movement,” in Antiphon 9, n. 3 (Winter 2015): 284-309.
“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.
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:
Pilgrim: A Journal of Catholic Experience (http://www.pilgrimjournal.com/poems.html)
Oranges from Dominic’s Tree: Selected Poems by Dominican Friars, Sisters and Laity, Matthew Powell, ed. (Chicago: New Priory Press, 2014).
Review for Religious; Commonweal, and Cresset.
Curated Exhibitions (Blackfriars Gallery, DSPT)
2017-2018, “Ecce Homo! - devotional expressions of hardship and healing in the Americas.”
2016-2017, “Via Pulchritudinis - fine handpress printing in the Dominica Tradition.”
2014-2015 (with Fr. Michael Morris, OP), “The Sword and Sandal Film Epic - Early Christianity in the Cinema”
Fall 2013 (with Sr. Marianne Farina, CSC), Approaching the Qur'an - celebrating the commitment of Nostra Aetate
Spring 2014 (with Lam Khong), “Evidence for Peace”
Fall 2011 (with Joan DiStefano), “Visual Meditations from Thomas Merton's Abbey of Gesthaemani”
Spring 2012 (with Michael Morris, OP), “Monks and Friars and Food ... Oh my!” part of the collaborative project “Faith in Food” presented at DSPT.
Spring 2011, “Open Space - Inside Out - the architectural drawings of Arnold Constable”
Papers and Invited Lectures
“Laudato Si' - Caring for our Common Home in the Care for our Domestic Church,” December 1-2, 2017, Advent Retreat for St. Joseph Parish, Fremont, CA.
“Laudato Si' - Human and Spiritual Formation for Priests Study Days,” Diocese of Sacramento, October 2-6, 2017.
“Health, Spirituality, and Wellness: The God-factor in Human Wellness,” given for the Annual St. Albert the Great Lecture, November 14, 2014 at the Center for Catholic and Dominican Studies, Providence College.
Beauty, Creative Intuition and Poetry
Sacred Arts, Catholic Culture and Catholic Worship
Religion/Spirituality and Health Studies
Sustainable methods of food production and consumption