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Dr Rod Benson concluded his academic studies in June 2022, when he submitted his PhD thesis on ‘Constructing the theology of George Henry Morling.’
During Rod’s candidature, he held various roles including advisor on public issues and ethics for Baptist Ministries Australia, two years as interim minister at Lithgow Baptist Church in the NSW Central West, and five years as research support officer at Moore College (the theological college of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney).
The end of study hasn’t slowed things down for Rod; it’s rather give him space to pursue projects that were put on hold. Rod’s currently working several strands of his PhD thesis into journal articles, trying to interest publishers in a book version of his thesis, writing a critical evaluation of The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England from a Baptist perspective, and looking into the history of scholarship on biblical aphorisms with a view to a possible journal article. And, for something completely different, he’s well into writing a book on children’s literature. That’s a full plate!
In addition to his personal ambitions, Rod is continuing his research support work (which now includes library manager) at Moore College, now an Australian University College. This is a position that offers him the collaboration and research focus that he so enjoys, and it’s also his first ever 9-to-5 job ever, affording him a fantastic work-life balance. Tasked with sourcing research materials for faculty and HDR students, and full responsibility for collection development, Rod’s aim is to maintain the Library’s reputation of one of the largest and most comprehensive theological libraries in the Southern Hemisphere. “It’s a very exciting place to work and I have no plans to move on,” says Rod.
Rod is married to his lovely wife Emma Goodsir, who was a permanent panellist on the ABC TV game show Think Tank, making these two a bit of a power couple.
They are part of a blended family and live together with Emma’s adult son in Sydney’s leafy north, while Rod’s three adult sons from a previous marriage now live in south-east Queensland.
The Great North walk between Sydney and Newcastle is just a stone’s throw from their front door which is handy as both Rod and Emma enjoy exploring bush walking tracks. Rod says it was during Covid lockdown that they discovered some of the most spectacular tracks near home. “Walking in natural bushland is an excellent tonic for the burden of intensive academic study!”
As a bookworm with an eclectic literary palette, Rod often has a few books on the go. His current reads are Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and a wonderful book by Frederic Caire Chiles on the history of California’s Channel Islands. He also enjoys experimenting in the kitchen (Whitley Principal René Erwich can attest to Rod’s impressive cooking images on Facebook) and exploring new restaurants. Although a Sydneysider, Rod says “some of the best and most interesting food I’ve eaten has been in Melbourne, particularly Lune Croissanterie, Bar Lourinhã, Supernormal, and the sublime Lûmé.”
When reflecting on his experience at Whitley, some of his fondest memories were studying in the library while enrolled in his Master of Theology and PhD theses and enjoying the hospitality offered by the old round residential building (and the chapel) when he attended conferences on the Whitley campus. It was there that he first met Professor David Bebbington, who would later be one of his PhD examiners.
Rod ends his student journey with Whitley impressed by the calibre of supervisors and academia: “I cannot speak too highly of both Ken and Darrell, who have been models of academic wisdom, rigour, creativity and generosity. The opportunity to experience such a learning environment at the highest academic level is a gift I won’t forget. I would encourage others who are considering higher degree research to explore what Whitley offers. The close association with the University of Divinity also adds value and depth to the Whitley experience.”
He has some passionate advice for those considering study. “Don’t study part-time! No, seriously. If there is any possibility to avoid part-time study and enjoy the multiple benefits of full-time study in an environment such as Whitley College and the University of Divinity, go for it.”
We wish Rod all the best with his endeavours and look forward to hearing of his many future achievements.