Each Friday this semester, we are placing a spotlight on one of Western Seminary’s faculty members. Today we are featuring Dr. Ryan Lister, Associate Professor of Theology.
Transformed: Tell us a little bit about your family.
Dr. Lister: I have been married to Chase Elizabeth for 14 years, and we have four children: Jude (8), Silas (6), Abby Kate (3), and Asher (1).
Transformed: Where did you grow up?
Dr. Lister: In Charleston, South Carolina. I did my undergraduate work at The Citadel, which is a military college in Charleston as well. I didn’t leave South Carolina until I went to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where I completed my M.Div. and Ph.D.
Transformed: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Dr. Lister: A baseball or soccer player. Sports were big for me, in part because my dad was so good at pouring time into me through engagement with sports. I am still waiting for the Yankees to call (should be soon).
Transformed: Well, while you are waiting for that call, it’s probably a good thing that you have a day job. We’ll get into the details of your ‘fallback’ position as a seminary professor next week. But for now, let’s talk about a few things that will help the Transformed readers really get to know you. For instance, what is your favorite food?
Dr. Lister: Steak.
Transformed: What’s the best place in Portland to get a steak?
Dr. Lister: At home, on my Big Green Egg grill. However, if I happened to be in Tennessee, I’d grab a steak at Ye Olde Steak House, and then head on over to watch a Tennessee Volunteers football game.
Transformed: Ok – but if you were eating that steak at home on a TV tray, what would you be watching?
Dr. Lister: There are so many good choices, but at the top of the list is the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I am also a big fan of the Bourne trilogy, and pretty much anything directed, produced, or written by John Hughes.
Transformed: If we were to listen in on your stereo, what would we hear?
Dr. Lister: Probably The National, or 90’s alternative music. In the car, probably sports talk radio or podcasts like 5 Minutes in Church History. I also listen to a lot of movie soundtracks in my office—it adds an epic quality to my workday!
Transformed: Intriguing. Speaking of things that you listen to, Transformed readers want to know: when a discriminating theologian such as yourself listens to sermons online, whom does he listen to?
Dr. Lister: Either Tom Schreiner or Tim Keller.
Transformed: Let’s move on to talk a bit about the written word. It goes without saying that you, as a professor of theology, frequently find your nose buried in books. But what authors or books have you enjoyed reading when you are not immersed in absorbing academic theological treatises?
Dr. Lister: Anything by Pat Conroy, J. R. R. Tolkien, or C. S. Lewis. I have also appreciated Neil Gaiman’s books – in particular The Graveyard Book.
Transformed: Can you give us a sampling of the books that you are reading right now?
Dr. Lister: Mapping Modern Theology, which is a collection of essays that was edited by Bruce L. McCormack and Kelly M. Kapic; The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, by Philip and Carol Zaleski; The Fellowship of the Ring, by J. R. R. Tolkien (I am reading this way too slowly to my kids); Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision: A Case for Costly Discipleship and Life Together, by Paul R. House; Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith, by Michael Reeves; The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith, by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield; Romans, a Commentary by Tom Schreiner, and Echoes of Eden: Reflections on Christianity, Literature, and the Arts, but Jerram Bars.
Transformed: Wow – that’s quite a list! Let’s finish up for today with just one more question. If you could meet one person (outside of the Bible), dead or living, who would it be?
Dr. Lister: Martin Luther – it would just be so much fun to be in the same room with him.
This is Part 1 of a two-part feature on Dr. Ryan Lister. Part 2 will run next Friday, October 2nd.