Cyndi Parker, Ph.D.
Pursuing the narratives of people and places and recognising the impact their narratives have on one another.
I think it was the end of high school, or maybe it was during college, that I realised I was nomadic and had an unquenchable thirst for adventure and new experiences. Setting out to see the whole country and to live in new places was addicting. I was enthusiastic about going anywhere in the world, and if that meant traveling somewhere I had never been, then I liked the idea even more! As I moved to different cities and investigated new careers, I proudly told people, “I am a citizen of the world, and a resident of no place.”
My satisfaction in being a resident of no place did not change until I went to Israel to complete Masters level courses in biblical studies. For the first time, I paid close attention to the impact of physical place on people. I observed land that had sufficient resources to support large, dominating empires in contrast to land that had minimal resources to support a small, local community. Places with dry limestone and minimal rainfall dictate a shepherding lifestyle for the people who live there, while rich soil and adequate water allow permanent communities to develop alongside rich farmlands. In my quest to analyse and understand the biblical narrative, I found that I needed to analyse and understand the place of the biblical narrative.
For my Ph.D. dissertation I pursued the connection between the modern analysis of place and biblical studies. Although I confined my work to the book of Deuteronomy, I was struck by how applicable the biblical instructions for investing in place are to modern societies. I am challenged by the call to take seriously our responsibility for physical place, be it our homes, churches, or surrounding countryside.
The slow realisation that place is not just a mute backdrop for human life but that it contributes its own drama to the human story became the unifying factor for several of my diversified interests. I create educational trips to Israel to connect people with the cultural, religious, and geographical context of the Bible. I teach in universities and churches about the biblical narrative and the biblical views of investing in place. I write articles on the importance of investing in place to invest in people.
Of the utmost significance, I am wrestling with the idea of being a citizen of the world as well as being an invested resident of place.