Having experienced a good dosage of unexpected celebrity when I was a tall, fair, blue-eyed exchange student in Japan, I would be quite happy to return to the anonymity of medieval artists or to adopt that practiced by most Carthusian theologians. However, we live in a very historically conscious time, with different conventions. More importantly, there is a personal and practical value to referring to people by name as we courteously reflect upon their ideas. And so we come to the admirable balance of St. Thomas Aquinas, who would remind us (paraphrased) that
  • In any sincere quest regarding truth, it is not important who said what, but what is true,

. and that

  • We must respect both those whose view we follow, and those whose view we reject, for both have sought the truth and so aided us to know it better.

Narrative Professional Biography

Alyssa Pitstick currently is an independent scholar open to institutional affiliation. She earned her doctorate in theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the “Angelicum”) in Rome. Her preliminary studies were completed at the International Theological Institute in Gaming, Austria, and included a period of research as a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford (Blackfriars).

In her doctoral work, Dr. Pitstick investigated Hans Urs von Balthasar’s “theology of Holy Saturday” and the effects it has upon his doctrines of Christ and salvation (Christology and soteriology). Her conclusion, that the cardinal-nominee’s view contradicts the Catholic doctrine of Christ’s descent to the dead, not to mention doctrines of Christ and the Trinity, sparked controversy through an exchange of articles in First Things. Her dissertation has since been published by Eerdmans as Light in Darkness: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Catholic Doctrine of Christ’s Descent into Hell (2007).

Most of her public work to date has focused on related topics. Other areas of research interest include theological methodology, philosophy of the human person, and classic horror fiction. Her teaching commitments build on these foci: her courses include Catholic Christianity; Dracula Meets the Pope; Crisis and Character; Philosophy of the Human Person; and Ethics for Geeks. This last course, aimed at students considering the technical professions, originated out of her continuing interest in the scientific community and her appreciation for the reciprocal value of the sciences and humanities. Dr. Pitstick majored in math, pre-Engineering, pre-Med, as an undergraduate and worked for an environmental consulting firm before earning a Master’s in philosophy preparatory to studying theology.

Dr. Pitstick is a recipient of the 2009 John Templeton Award for Theological Promise.