Suffering and the Promise (2015-2016)

This is a collection of posts, originally published in three installments in late 2015 and early 2016. What follows is an edited version. What’s remarkable to me—writing in August 2021—is how much my views have changed, and how much consistency yet remains. I hope this collection of reflections benefits you in some way.

News: Migration and Displacement Interdisciplinary Workshop at UofM

“According to UNHCR, the number of forcibly displaced people both within countries and across borders as a result of persecution, conflict, or generalized violence has grown by over 50 per cent in the last 10 years;  there were 43.3 million forcibly displaced people in 2009, and the figure was 70.8 million by the end of 2018 (UNHCR, …

Workflows: “Welcome” to Graduate School

Perhaps I made a mistake not getting a Master’s degree before I applied for Ph.D. programs in history. Perhaps I made a mistake in not taking substantial time off after I got my Bachelor’s degree. Perhaps, even, I should have considered more lucrative career options — in translation work, public relations, marketing, etc. Nevertheless, here I stand, I can do no other: in the fall of 2020, I will begin my third year in the History Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, working with Prof. Joshua Cole, author most recently of Lethal Provocation: The Constantine Murders and the Politics of French Algeria (2019, Cornell University Press). With the fall, “hell year” will commence: the year of my cohort’s preliminary examinations (elsewhere called comprehensive exams, or “comps”).

Elsewhere: Tears of Eden/Uncertain Podcast

My friend and former colleague, Katherine Spearing, is a seminary graduate with experience in ministry and churches in the U.S. and Central America. She invited me to speak on her podcast, “Uncertain,” about spiritual and sexual abuse in the church. Good, evil, cognitive dissonance, and navigating a relationship with the institution of church, when …


I am sitting at my desk in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Some allege that summer has begun, but I’ve paid no mind to whispers that threaten the threads of tenacity remaining in my psyche to finish seminar papers, take language courses, do research, and prepare for the third year of a Ph.D. program in history at the University of Michigan. With two years behind me, I have a virtual ocean of books, articles, conference papers, dissertations, and lectures to read and review before my comprehensive exams at the end of the 2021 academic year. To my left, an unkempt pile of assiduously documented and extensive book notes brushes against my 2014 laptop—ancient now, according to Apple. With corners fraying, the pages of yellow legal paper are well worn—some are tattered.