Experts on "Arts and Humanities"

Janelle Aijian

  • Assistant Professor
Janelle Aijian was born in Edmonton, Alberta and spent her early life moving all over the world, from Toronto to Houston to Nairobi. She earned her doctoral degree in Philosophy from Baylor University, where her dissertation focused on the religious epistemology of Blaise Pascal. Her current research interests involve skepticism, especially its place in the life of faith, and the ancient deadly sin of acedia, or spiritual despondency. Her favorite Torrey texts to teach are The Brothers Karamazov, Moby Dick, The Republic and the gospel of John. Janelle lives in Fullerton with her husband, Phillip, their son Malcolm and a cat named Cleopatra.

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Jonathan A. Anderson

  • Associate Professor of Art
  • Executive Director, Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts

Jonathan Anderson is an artist, art critic, and associate professor of art at Biola University, where he has been teaching since 2006. His artworks explore the capacities and limitations of representational painting and have been featured in group and solo exhibitions throughout the United States. In addition to his studio practice, Anderson maintains a research and writing practice focused on modern and contemporary art criticism, with a particular interest in exploring its relations to religion and theology. Professor Anderson has given scholarly presentations at the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University (Society for Christian Scholarship in Music) and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (Association of Scholars of Christianity in the History of Art), and he has received research fellowships from the Center for Christian Thought and the Nagel Institute. He has contributed to various books and journals, and most recently is the coauthor (with theologian William Dyrness) of the book Modern Art and the Life of a Culture: The Religious Impulses of Modernism (IVP Academic, 2016). For more information, visit jonathan-anderson.com.

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Christopher Davidson

  • Associate Professor of English

Chris Davidson is associate professor of English and co-director of first-year writing at Biola. He teaches courses in critical thinking and writing, writing for competency, and creative writing. He has a bachelor's degree in English from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from University of California, Irvine. His work has appeared in several journals and anthologies, including Monster Verse: Poems Human and Inhuman. A chapbook, Poems, appeared in 2012.

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Joe Henderson

  • Associate Professor

Joe Henderson teaches Bible, literature, and hermeneutics. In his doctoral work at Fuller Theological Seminary, he studied hermeneutics and Old Testament literature. His dissertation on the poetry of the book of Jeremiah is the fruit of his interest in the relationship between the history of biblical interpretation and the history of literary criticism. His other interests include Robert Louis Stevenson's novels, Paul's theology, Milton's Prose, Brevard Childs' hermeneutics, Flannery O'Connor's stories, Charles Wesley's hymns and Francis of Assisi's life. Joe is a graduate of Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky and Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya. He and his wife Conchie served at Rift Valley Academy as dorm parents for fifth and sixth-grade girls. Now they are the grateful parents of Kip, William and Laurel.

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Marc Malandra

  • Associate Professor of English

Marc Malandra received his bachelor's degree in literature from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and master's degree in English and creative writing from the University of California, Davis. He also received a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in English from Cornell University. Professor Malandra has had opportunities to teach at University of California, Davis, various businesses and high schools in Japan, University of California, Santa Cruz Extension and at Hartnell College. His areas of specialization are nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century American literature, Anglo-American poetry and creative writing.

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Amy Obrist

  • Associate Prof, Mod Languages
  • Associate Professor of Modern Languages

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Todd Pickett

  • Dean of Spiritual Development

Education: Stanford, BA (Classics); Trinity College, Ireland, M.Litt. (Classics); Talbot, MA (Spiritual Formation); UC Irvine, Ph.D. (English).
At Biola since: 1996
• Chair, department of English, 2002–05
• Dean of Humanities & Social Sciences, 2005–08
• Associate Dean of Spiritual Development, 2008–11
• Dean of Spiritual Development, 2011–present.
My StrengthsFinder top five: Connectedness, Learner, Intellection, Ideation, Input.

1. What do you do in your job (briefly)? I get to think about and facilitate how we can discern the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and cooperate with it.

2. The five (or so) most influential books you've read: Besides the Scriptures, of course… can I do authors instead?
• Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, Notes from Underground
• Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island; Ascent to Truth
• Stanley Hauerwas, Resident Aliens; Truthfulness and Tragedy
• Jean-Pierre DeCaussade, Self Abandonment to Divine Providence; The Sacrament of the Present Moment
• Eugene Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, The Jesus Way.
• Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow, Essays & Poems

3. An influential person in your life or best example of love? I’m thinking of two friends who are pastors, both characterized chiefly by humility and obedience.

4. Why are you at Biola? Because the university is committed to biblical integration and spiritual development.

5. Your testimony in 200 words or less?
I came to Christ as a junior higher, drawn by how brilliantly the Scriptures threw light on the human condition. Filled with the Holy Spirit, I was also filled quite a bit with myself and how church/bible study/teaching could be a place for over-achievement. For much of my Christian life, God has been calling and drawing me away from an identity based in what I can do for Him (really, myself) and into an identity based on what He’s done for me. Still trying to open to that.

6. If God put you completely in charge of creating Heaven, what would it be like? Lots of time to read, and then lots of time to talk about reading with others over meals.

7. What is the most difficult choice you’ve ever had to make? What made it difficult? What factors helped you make that choice? Leaving church ministry for a Ph.D. in English. It was hard to know where I would thrive more. If I recall, the chief decision-making factor was my immaturity — I hated the feeling of my inadequacy — that I couldn’t meet everyone’s needs. Someone should’ve told me that that’s how you learn humility and dependence.

8. What are five things you are most thankful for in your life right now? Dottie (my wife), Carly & Abbey (my daughters), friends, a job.

9. What job do you fantasize about having? Having my own radio show where I get to interview whomever I want (but mostly novelists and rock stars).

10. Last book you read? Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms.

11. A brush with fame or celebrity? I once carved a Thanksgiving turkey with Nicholas Cage. And yes, the rumors are true, the actress Courtney Cox is my sister-in-law. I’ve been married to her sister, Dottie, for 20 years.

12. Which fictional character do you most resemble? I can be very Eeyore-ish on bad days.

13. Who plays you in your bio-pic? Kenneth Branagh.

14. What’s your ringtone? Beck, “Walls”

15. Favorite electronic device? My Espresso Maker (you do have to plug it in)

16. What do your friends say is your best quality? Reflectiveness (is that a word?)

17. What natural talent do you wish you had? Drawing

18. What is your life theme song? “Oh How I Hate To Get Up in the Morning,” Irving Berlin

19. Do you believe in love at first sight? When applied to desserts, yes.

20. Do you think it is possible to live with no regrets? If regret means sadness, no. If regret means self-loathing, yes.

21. What is your definition of success? Abiding in God. Do you consider yourself to be successful? Sometimes.

22. How much is your self-worth and identity determined by your job and your success at it? That’s my Achilles heal. It has mattered a lot.

23. What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen? My daughters, still. After that, Boyd’s Lake Resort in Wisconsin, late July.

24. In what areas of your life is it most difficult to trust God? That what I’m able to do is enough.

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Patricia L Pike

  • Vice Provost for Academic Administration
  • Professor of Psychology

Patricia Pike is currently vice provost for academic administration and professor of psychology at Biola University. She is a licensed psychologist in California and a member of the American Psychological Association, the Society for Research in Child Development and was a lead delegate for over 10 years of the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology. Pike received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree in psychology from the University of Hawaii and later went on to earn a doctoral specialty certificate in psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles. She previously taught at the University of Hawaii, Mountain View College in Dallas, Texas, and the University of Texas, Arlington. Pike has invested her time outside of the classroom at the Child Guidance Center in Santa Ana, California, and the Biola Counseling Center.

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Jonathan Puls

  • Interim Dean of SAS, Fine Arts and Communications
  • Associate Professor of Art History and Painting

Jonathan Puls teaches drawing, painting and art history in the Department of Art. He holds an M.F.A. in Drawing and Painting and an M.A. in in Art History. Jonathan's ongoing drawings and paintings pull their imagery from contemporary life, mingling these with compositional concerns from art historical sources. His teaching, studio production and historical research focus on the relationship between immediate observation and compositional synthesis.

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Kurt Simonson

  • Associate Professor of Photography

Kurt Simonson is the Associate Professor of Photography in the Art department. His work explores the longings and tensions that surround our ideas of home, community and identity. Questions about family, story and belonging remain at the heart of his curiosity. Kurt's work is regularly exhibited throughout the country and internationally, including a recent solo exhibition at Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon, and group exhibits at the San Diego Museum of Art, the Center for Fine Art Photography (Fort Collins, Colorado), RayKo Photo Center (San Francisco, California) and the Foto8 Gallery in London, England. His work has been published in the London Sunday Times Magazine, Fraction Magazine, Lenscratch , AintBad and Dodho Magazine. In 2012 he received a Curator’s Choice award from CENTER Santa Fe and was shortlisted in Photolucida's Critical Mass, and in 2015 he was named one of LensCulture’s 50 Emerging Talents. He lives and works in Long Beach, where you can probably find him eating breakfast.

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Anneke Stasson

  • Assistant Professor, Torrey Honors Institute

Anneke grew up in Olympia, Wash. and is thrilled to be living on the West Coast again after living for eight years in Boston. Anneke received her B.A. in English from Calvin College and her M.A. in Church History from Regent College in Vancouver, B.C. Most recently, Anneke received her Ph.D. from Boston University, where she studied the History of Christianity, Global Christianity and the History of Missions. Her dissertation was on twentieth-century missionaries and marriage counselors Walter and Ingrid Trobisch. Her current research continues to address the relationship between Christianity and cultural conceptions of gender, marriage and family life. Anneke and her husband, Stevie, have three daughters, Mary Lou, Eleanor and Ruthann, all of whom enjoy swimming, hiking, cooking and reading.

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K. Erik Thoennes

  • Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies
  • Chair, Biblical & Theological Studies Theology Department

Erik Thoennes is committed to teaching biblical and systematic theology so that he and his students love God and people more fully. He strives to make the necessary connections between the study of theology, obedience to Jesus and fulfilling the Great Commission. He has taught theology and evangelism at the college and seminary levels for several years and is a frequent guest speaker at churches, conferences and retreats, in addition to co-pastoring a local church. Thoennes has received the University award for faculty excellence and professor of the year. His research interests include godly jealousy, the atonement, the exclusivity of Christ and theology of culture.

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Victor Velazquez

  • Chair, Department of Modern Languages
  • Assistant Professor of Modern Languages

Victor Velazquez is currently a modern language professor at Biola University. He is a member of the Modern Language Association, American Association of Teachers of French and American Association of Teachers of Spanish, Portuguese and Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA). Velazquez invests in his community and serves as a volunteer speaker for Child S.H.A.R.E., an organization that supports and encourages faith communities through the foster care and adoption process. He received his bachelor’s degree in comparative literature and master’s degree/doctorate in French Language and Literature from the University of California, Irvine. While working towards his doctorate, he was honored through several awards such as the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Award. Velazquez previously taught at Mount San Antonio College, Coastline Community College and University of California, Irvine.

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Allen L. Yeh

  • Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies

Allen Yeh is a missiologist who specializes in Latin America and China. He also has other academic interests in history, classical music, homiletics, social justice, the California missions, the Maya, and biographical interest in Jonathan Edwards (America's greatest theologian) and Adoniram Judson (America's first intercontinental missionary). He serves on the Board of Trustees for the Foundation for Theological Education in Southeast Asia. He earned his B.A. from Yale, M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell, M.Th. from Edinburgh, and D.Phil. from Oxford. Despite this alphabet soup, he believes that experience is the greatest teacher of all (besides the Bible). As such, Allen has been to over 60 countries on every continent, to study, do missions work, and experience the culture. As Mark Twain said in 1857, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."

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