Interview with Kyle Potter for the Goodwin Prize

Kyle is a native of Appalachian Kentucky, and holds the MTh (Applied Theology) from the University of Oxford, the MTS (Liturgical Studies) from the University of Notre Dame, and is a doctoral candidate in Systematic Theology at Marquette University, where he serves as a Teaching Fellow. Kyle’s primary research interests are ecclesiology, political theology, ecumenical theology, and the sacraments. He is a lay Preacher in the Episcopal Church.

Paper title: No Greater Love: Friendship as the Enactment of Charismatic Ecclesiology in the Small Asketikon of Saint Basil the Great

What inspired you to pursue an advanced degree in theology? 

For as long as I've been a believer, I have been fascinated the diverse ways in which people have lived and experienced the Christian faith. My studies have broadened my thinking about God, worship, and mission, and enabled me to share the riches of the Christian tradition with others.

What do you hope to do with your degree?

I just want to teach! I would love to teach at a seminary so that I can help form future pastors and lay leaders for ministry. I am trained as a generalist, so I will be applying to religious colleges and universities as well.

Where do you see connections between your personal faith, your intellectual work and the other aspects of your life?

I am an academic who stands firmly in the Church. My major research interests — ecclesiology, liturgy, and political theology — are oriented to questions of how believers can best understand their live with God and one another as they consider God's call to serve the world. 

How would you summarize your paper for someone without a theological background?

From my vantage point in 21st century America, our culture suffers a dearth of models for supportive, life-giving friendship. Like other contemporary writers, I went digging into the ancient monastic traditions for help. Basil of Caesarea's Small Asketikon is one of many guidebooks for living in Christian community that got passed around the late Roman Empire. I picked it because Basil was famous for some strong and stormy friendships, and for being persnickety about his regulations. In examining them, however, I discovered that he had a sophisticated understanding of human nature, and how Holy Spirit transforms lives in the context of committed friendships.

How might this award make a difference in your life?

My mentors have encouraged me to focus on my development as a writer, so the award is first a great encouragement in my vocation. Beyond that, I hope it will help me meet people that I might not meet otherwise, and of course, the prize itself will help in a quite practical way when I log on to the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace this month.

How do you spend your time when you are not studying?

I throw parties, develop my culinary talents, and read horror novels. Oh — and I take a lot of cat photos.

Any other comments?

I'm grateful to Theological Horizons for this recognition. I am grateful as well for Dr. Marcus Plested's guidance on this research project, and for the encouragement and careful criticism I have received from Dr. Susan Wood. I've become a better writer for it. 

For more information on the Goodwin Prize, click here.