Spiritual Journalism

Кош Келиниздер! My name is Christopher Schwartz. I am a journalist, researcher, academic and aspiring writer. If you would like know more about me, please read below. You can also skip over to my Academia.edu profile (my LinkedIn profile now redirects there).

To read my blog, click here. Because I have been blogging for several years, you may need a guide to navigate the forest of rumination. However, be advised: I make it a habit to password-protect posts to limit reading to friends, family and close colleagues.

Journalism: I work primarily on Central Asia. For a while, I also dabbled in reporting on the hacktivism scene, which occasionally brought me into contact with thought-provoking avant-garde technologies. I am trying to branch off into other areas, in particular data-based and environmental topics. You can find my reporting in The Diplomat, Transitions OnlineRadio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, The Registan, Open Central Asia, and NewEurasia Citizen Media, for whom I have served as editor-in-chief for several years. Every year I contribute to IREX’s Media Sustainability Index. Among my published works includes the 2011 book, CyberChaikhana: Digital Conversations from Central Asia. I am a member of the advisory board of the Central Eurasian Scholars and Media Initiative.

Research: I am writing my doctoral dissertation on “ontology of journalism” at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. My supervisor is Prof. Dr. Bart Pattyn, author of Media en Mentaliteit. Besides my in-progress PhD, I have three Master’s degrees, two from Leuven and one from La Salle University, specialized in the Islamic tradition of philosophy and history. As an undergraduate, I spent a semester at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, and a summer internship at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies in Washington, DC. Among other things, I have published an encyclopedia entry on the religious landscape of Turkmenistan with Dr. Moojan Momen.

Academia: I am a full-time lecturer at the Journalism and Mass Communications faculty of the American University of Central Asia, and a frequent guest-lecturer at the International University of Kyrgyzstan (known as “MUK” from its Russian acronym). I have been fortunate to begin my academic career while not yet a fully-minted PhD. The eventual goal is to be fully tenure-tracked at a prestigious university back “home” in the West — one must be ambitious, after all — but for now I am deeply enjoying my time teaching in Central Asia.

Writing: This is still something I am working on. Primarily through this blog, I have been honing my skills as an essayist, inspired by (although in no way measuring up to) one of my archetypes of Great Authors, Ralph Waldo Emerson. However, it has been a childhood ambition of mine to become a fiction writer. Кудай бурасы, I hope to slowly, slowly achieve this, perhaps the last of my great childhood ambitions yet to be accomplished.

What else? Well, I am a member of the Bahá’í Faith. If I take a step back from myself and think over all of the above, the picture that emerges is one of a person who sees life as a great adventure, exploration, or investigation. Indeed, religion is deeply important to me. I was raised in a joint Baptist-Methodist church by a Christian mother and a Jewish father from the Presbyterian and Conservative traditions, respectively. After exploring Islam for ten years, I ultimately became a Bahá’í and haven’t looked back since.

Nonetheless, I feel that all the Great Faith traditions are at root one. Moreover, they all have ancient wisdoms to be re-discovered, ancient paths to be re-walked. In November 2014, I walked the Camino de Santiago, from Saint Jean Pied de Port to the Cape of Finisterre, and in March 2015, I performed my Bahá’í pilgrimage to our Holy Shrines in Haifa and Akka.

I should also note, on the philosophical side, grandparents were under the sway of Averoës via Maimonides and Spinoza, so he is something of a patron spiritual saint as well — a thinker who looked to the future, and was not afraid to systematically explore reality as he encountered it.

This website is dedicated to my loved ones, in this life and the next.

I swear by the glow of sunset; by the night, and all that it brings together; by the moon, in her full perfection: that you shall all march onwards from state to state. — L’Être, Qur’an, 84:16