A Divine and Supernatural Light

CFH Grad Student member Brandon Cozart runs the fabulous website “A Divine and Supernatural Light,” a site dedicated to all things Jonathan Edwards. He’re my Q&A with him (Cozart, not Edwards):

1) What attracted you to the study of Jonathan Edwards in the first place?

It’s hard to remember exactly how Edwards became such a giant in my life and someone I like devoting great amounts of time toward studying.  I do remember reading Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God in high school, as I’m sure most of us did.  Unlike most who read it then, however, I remember being struck by the beauty of both the language that Edwards used and the way in which his thought flowed throughout the sermon.  I hadn’t ever read anything like that before and something about it stuck with me.  I don’t think I met Edwards again until about halfway through college when a lot of my friends were talking about this guy John Piper and his love for Jonathan Edwards.  So I did some investigating, again read Sinners and also read A Divine and Supernatural Light followed by Religious Affections, and the rest, you could say, is history.  Although I guess you could say that what solidified my academic pursuit of Edwards was reading George Marsden’s Jonathan Edwards: A Life which is absolutely outstanding.

2) How did you get involved with the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale?

It happened kind of organically, actually.  I got in on an early beta test of the Works of Jonathan Edwards Online project, which is now public and free for everyone, helping find bugs and errant text and various things like that.  I was also able to visit the offices in New Haven and continued pursuing and developing relationships with the folks at the JEC, and that eventually led to an opportunity to contribute to the JEC blog which I was privileged to be a part of for most of 2008.  The JEC is a wonderful thing and they’re doing a lot of great work, not only for the world of higher learning and advanced scholarship, but also for high schools, pastors, and anyone else who has an interest in the life and work of Jonathan Edwards.

3) How did your site evolve into its current form?

Before I started contributing to the JEC blog, I had planned to start a blog of my own devoted to the life, works, and legacy of Jonathan Edwards, but then the opportunity at the JEC blog came up, so those plans were put aside.  When my time ended there, my plans came back into view and I decided to move forward.  So my site, A Divine and Supernatural Light, has only really been a site for about five months or so.  It’s still a work in progress and is not at all in a final form, but my hope for the site is to be a sort of one-stop shop for all that is going on in modern Edwardsiana.  So it’s really still in its birth stages and it will be interesting to see what the site looks like a year from now and beyond.

4) What are the benefits of using the internet in this way?

Wow, so many!  In my several years of reading blogs across a variety of disciplines and purposes, one of the biggest observations I’ve made is that blogs tend to be more for the author than the audience.  They’re used for self-expression, information aggregating, and for dozens of other purposes, but for most the audience seems to be secondary to what the author is trying to do.  The fact that the site is public and that others can read them and benefit from them is a wonderful accessory, but not necessarily the driving force.  Recognizing that, I believe, is the key for taking on a project like what I’m attempting at A Divine and Supernatural Light.  Sure I want others to come and see what’s there, to learn more about and come to a greater appreciation of Edwards, to find information on new books, conferences, and goings on in early American religious studies, but I also need a place to aggregate all of that information for my personal use.  Blogs are extremely useful for collecting information and having the ability to archive, tag, categorize, etc. whatever is pertinent to your interests, removing the need for keeping track of bookmarks and having to redo Google searches, or other practices that waste a lot of time.  And then, again, there’s the added bonus of putting this stuff in one place, as well as being able to publish your own writings on the subject that people who are also interested can learn from and, hopefully, comment on.  So I think that’s the great benefit, especially for graduate students.  I could go on and on about the usefulness of these types of things, but I’ll stop here.

5) Do you recommend grad students pursue academic interests outside of their school program?

That’s kind of a tricky question.  I think it really depends on the person’s situation and the intensity of whatever program they are in.  Grad programs can be overwhelming and consuming on their own, so to add other projects on top of all that can be even more burdensome.  This can be especially true if the student has a family and other relational obligations outside academics.  Of course there are exceptions, and such projects can provide relief and refreshment from the primary focus in their program, but moderation is still the key!  I think it’s probably better, if the student wants another project, to have the project be at least somewhat related to their primary focus so that each can enhance the other.  But again, it just depends on individual circumstances.

Be sure to check out adivineandsupernaturallight.com!
Brandon Cozart is originally from Plano, Texas, just north of Dallas and now lives with his wife and Australian Shepherd in Charlotte, North Carolina.  He recently graduated with a Master of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte and is now working with the RTS Virtual Campus in course development.  This Fall he will be applying to doctoral programs and hopes to begin Ph.D. work in Fall of 2010.
Explore posts in the same categories: Academic Anecdotes, Life of the Mind, What We're Reading

2 Comments on “A Divine and Supernatural Light”

  1. […] Grad Student Blog about this site and other issues related to graduate students. I agreed and the result is now posted. So check it out, if you get the […]

  2. Phil Says:

    Great interview, Lauran and Brandon. Brandon, love your site, and look forward to following how it develops. And best wishes in your application to doctoral programs.

    I visited Yale/Beinecke and JEC in the summer of 2006 doing dissertation research. Great place, and Ken is just so wonderful and helpful.

    My dissertation examines clergy dismissal and church conflict in colonial New England, with a portion of the project devoted to Edwards.

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