Aminah Al-Attas Bradford
Post-Doctoral Research Scholar | Dunn Lab & the Public Science Cluster
I am Arab-American scholar of Christian thought. What am I doing in an ecology lab? One of theology’s grounding convictions, that we do not exist without God, is sometimes forgotten—but the idea that we do not exist without microbes, has scarcely been thought, at least scarcely thought by theologians. And this to our detriment. Theology and North American Christianity are not set up to engage our multi-species, symbiotic reality. What microbes blend together, theologians typically think apart. Doing theology alert to boundary-breeching microbial science does cause trouble for theology, and vice versa, but I’m convinced it’s only a good kind of trouble.
Working at the intersections of theology, ecology and race, I do microbial eco-theology that investigates things like the historical entanglement of germ theories and Christian thought to cultivate ecological wisdom and activism in Christian contexts. I ask questions like, what happens when a religious tradition that believes God became human is confronted with a science that says humans are an emerging amalgam of species? Is the Christian God microbial? What happens when theology’s rational human subject turns out to be colonized by tiny “irrational” animals? How might microbiome science reform Christian thought that often disrupts engagement of science. How did pre-pasteurian Christians think about yeast? How do scientists convey vital discovery to a religious tradition whose relationship to science is fraught? Could science and theology be symbiotic?
Al-Attas Bradford, Aminah. “Symbiotic Stewardship.” In Beyond Stewardship, Edited by Matthew Heun and David Warners, 67-80. Grand Rapids: Calvin Press, 2019.
Al-Attas Bradford, Aminah. “Living in the Company of Beasts: Karl Barth, the Human Microbiome and the Unwitting Microbial Witness of the Divine Bearing of All Things.” Philosophy, Theology and the Sciences Vol 4.2, 2018.
A little bit more about me:
My brain gets tired of thinking about things my naked eyes cannot see, whether microbial or divine. So the rest of the time you will find me on our faux-stead (that’s a half-hearted homestead), chasing chickens, chasing daughters, doing dishes, throwing dishes (as in, on a pottery wheel), growing food and flower, making herbal tinctures, making music, sewing, bitterly scouring the kitchen sink and guiltily scouring architectural blogs, and well…I guess I have been known to throw a dish or two (like the kind that break when you realize you’ve hit a pandemic wall).