My name is Anneke Schmidt, and I'm a scholar of religion, writer and educator, living in the South West of England. Originally from Germany, I first studied religions through distance-learning at British universities while working in Germany, but later moved countries to complete my education and become a UK-based religious educator. I have a BA (Hons) in Humanities with specialisms in Philosophy and Religious Studies (The Open University), an MA in Religious Studies (University of Chester), a PGCE (Secondary) in Religious Education (University of Exeter) and a PhD in Education with a focus on interreligious Theology and personal spiritual development in multi-faith Religious Education (University of Exeter).
My spiritual journey so far has been one of several stations. It has led me from the conservative evangelicalism of my childhood and youth, through the (seemingly distant) rationalism of academic approaches to the study of religions, to the religious pluralism and inclusiveness of Quaker spirituality, and onwards from there to a deep love for the Divine that, while keeping aspects of all the above, ultimately hopes to transcend most labels.
Despite my scepticism about labels, I would describe myself as a 'pessimistic optimist' because whenever I am faced with a challenge in life, I can't help but notice and (too often) worry about all the million small things that could go wrong on the way or create obstacles impossible for me to overcome. In the grand scheme of things, however, I also have this indestructible trust in the goodness of Love (with a capital L) that makes everything possible, including a new way of interconnected being in this world – in a shared sense of hope and belonging. A Love that prepares a table wide enough for everyone to be welcome, without exceptions.
Exploring this vision of interconnectedness, my blog 'Standing in the Here and There' is a collection of theological and philosophical reflections on Gott und die Welt (God and the world), personal stories, devotional texts and meditations, but also informational articles and reviews... written for those who would like to join my journey through the in-between places of hope and doubt, of loving Church and leaving churches, of finding God in everyone and every faith and losing faith in everything, and most importantly, of moving on and returning home. Again and again. Anew every day.
Or as Hyman puts it:
'We have seen that we cannot avoid the terrain of theology, and yet it is a terrain from which we are simultaneously exiled. Consequently, our tactics will be to move through theology, intellectually, ethically, and ecclesiastically (...) These tactics, then, are constituted by a "movement of perpetual departure," a movement "without foundation or goal," a movement "ever seeking" (and moving through) a body of poetic locus." Is this our postmodern condition? Or a response to it? Or a symptom of it? Or an answer to it? Or a defiance of it? Or a writing of it? Perhaps all of them. Perhaps none of them.
When to conclude is the same as to prelude, both become an interlude; and an interlude is intrinsically temporary; it is something that cannot last. In which case, there is nothing left to do but move on, write on, even if to write on is to attempt to write the impossible... world without end... Amen...'
(Hyman, 2001. The Predicament of Postmodern Theology: Radical Orthodoxy or Textual Nihilism?)