A little while back we introduced you to the book series MORE > and today we want you to meet Kristi Mair, Author of MORE > Truth. It was a pleasure to sit down with her, and learn about her faith, the why behind her recent move to London, and just enjoy a very sunny day in Covent Garden.
Kristi is very smart, like academic smart, so it’s not a surprise this is our most in depth interview yet. 5 stars if you don’t have to use google a few times.
Grab a cup of tea or if you’re near Pret a Manger get yourself a coconut flat-white (you’ll understand why we’re curious)
In order to speak persuasively to those who don’t know Jesus - and even to those who do- we need to understand each other's presuppositions.
Buy a copy of MORE> Truth here.
Why did you move to London?
Ha, who wouldn’t want to move to this beautiful city? I moved down to start a new job here last Autumn. I had been living in Birmingham for around 13 years before that. It was a bit of a big move for me! I wrapped things up with UCCF, packed the car, and took up a research and pastoral position at Oak Hill Theological College in North London. It’s a part-time role, which suits me beautifully. It gives me lots of space for my doctoral research in epistemology (the study of how we know what we know – I know, meta!).
A lot of my time is spent ordering coconut flat whites from Pret and feeling all intellectual at the British Library. It’s a pretty sweet deal! I also get to speak at evangelistic and training events, so I’m a bit of a jack(ie) of all trades, really! I’m so thankful to the Lord for this ministry – I get to do things that are not only intellectually satisfying, but existentially enlivening!
Tell us a bit more about your role at Oak Hill College.
I’ve been lecturing on epistemology and philosophical foundations. In order to speak persuasively to those who don’t know Jesus – and even to those who do- we need to understand each other’s presuppositions, and much of that – whether we are aware of it or not – has been shaped by philosophy!
The bulk of my work lies in providing pastoral support for female students. It’s such a privilege partnering with God as he makes us more like Jesus together. Other than that, I do a little bit of everything – there’s a never dull day!
If you weren’t doing this role what would you be doing?
Obviously, excavating the Ark of the Covenant as I expertly dodge a hail of bullets, while navigating complicated networks of betrayal, and evading capture by Nazi collaborators.
You wrote a book for the series MORE > Books ! how was the experience?
I did! I can’t believe how quickly it has all come together! It was a mixed writing experience for me, actually. I am an overthinker, hence the philosophy! I found this quite paralysing at times. In my academic writing I aim for philosophical precision, and so it was quite challenging articulating nuanced philosophical systems accurately and simply. I had that little voice in my head saying things like, ‘Is that really true?’ The irony! And, of course, the more we love something, the more we want to talk about it – and talk about it in detail… Editing was painful!
It is a small book addressing a big question. When Jesus said that he is the way and the truth and the life (John 14:6), what does that actually mean? MORE >Truth explores that question.
Why did you find it important to write about truth?
It was a personal question for me – and it remains so! I grew up very angry with Christians. I thought they’d committed the gravest intellectual sin: dereliction of epistemic duties; that is, they had thrown out their minds in order to embrace faith!
My questions were largely subverted or ignored, and when someone tried to answer, it was obvious that they hadn’t understood my question, and nor had they taken the time to try and understand it. In conversations I kept circling back to this: ‘But, how do you know it is true?’ Some said, ‘You’ve just got to have to faith!’ To which I laughed – a lot. It only served to confirm my worst suspicions about these poor, deluded Christians. I then starting reading C. S. Lewis (and others) and I thought, ‘Finally, here is a legitimate, persuasive voice I can actually wrestle with.’ What it means to believe as rational creatures is a question I wrestled with before I knew Jesus, and it is one I now enjoy exploring with Him.
MORE >Truth is far from the final word on the topic, but I hope it’ll help Christians to begin to form a personal understanding of Truth. The beauty of this book is that centres on a human question. A question that is answered in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
I also wrote this book to increase our confidence in Christ. So many are tempted to give up on Jesus because they don’t know how he stands up to scrutiny in the marketplace of ideas. He seems weak and foolish in a culture that says truth is based on preference. We are told to make our own truths as we go along, and this is profoundly damaging to us as persons. But how are we to know that, when the world often speaks more persuasively than the Church? These are just a couple of reasons why truth is such an important topic, and one to which I’ve dedicated much of my personal and professional life. We are hardwired for truth, and we are restless until we find it (or Him).
What’s been your journey with God so far?
It has been eclectic! Not easy, often painful, but always hopeful.
Some days I am so aware of the presence of God that he’s like a second-skin, and other days I don’t want to go near him. I hope I’m more like him now than I was ten years ago, but I continue to experience that tension within myself. Two verses I pray through regularly are these: Matthew 5:20 and Philippians 1:4-6.
My experience and understanding of Kingdom living continues to fold out in ever-increasing lengths of wonder, awe, and anticipation for Christ’s return. On my birthday a few weeks ago, my mum shared these wise words with me: “Each new year of life gives us an opportunity to exercise our faith.” That’s what my journey with God looks like – more and more intentionally embracing opportunities to exercise faith in Jesus by choosing to spur myself and others on to love and to good deeds. I often mess up, but I’m not giving up. After all, what can I possibly lack that he hasn’t provided?
What is one thing you find particularly important for Christians to do/be today?
Woah, big question. Perhaps Jesus’ words in the Great Commission? These are such encouraging, life-changing, decision-shaping, good-life inducing, culture-flourishing words:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -Matthew 28:18-20
The Great Commission can be summed us as: we remain (as disciples), we go (make more disciples), we know (to whom all authority belongs), and we sow (obeying Jesus’ commands means shaping culture – Mark 12:30-31). I’m writing a blog for Chapel on this soon!
Where do you find inspiration?
Russian novelists, especially Tolstoy and Nabokov. They speak to that indefinable part of me that loves to sit in existential quandaries! They capture the human condition so well. Apart from them, I feel inspired by many things and any-thing, really. It could be a turn of phrase; observing the way the light falls through a window; reading the expressions on people’s faces on the tube; revelling in Monet’s collision of colour; or hearing bird song!
These things point me to other things – and if it’s a really good line of thought – it’ll lead me to rejoicing in Jesus. Haha, I probably need to get out more!
On a lighter note
Things you’re consuming right now
Well, I am literally consuming a jacket potato right now! I know, I’m so rock and roll. While I have the odd Netflix binge, I try to enjoy and engage with things well. I spent a bleak yet life-affirming couple of hours wandering through the Munch exhibition at the British Museum recently on my day off (check it out!)
I also loooove Spanish crime thrillers like ‘Bitter Daisies’ on Netflix, and I’ve been tuning in for new episodes of the Shadowhunters series (which apparently has just been axed! Why, Netflix?!) I’m re-reading The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig, and I’ve just finished Ian McEwan’s excellent recent novel, Machines like Me. You’ve gotta read it!
Favourite place in the UK.
The Midlands. It’s where much loved family and close friends live. I mean, who hasn’t heard of Ashby-de-la-Zouch? It’s the home of Adrian Mole, Ivanhoe, probably your packet of crisps, and it’s the centre of England! What isn’t there to love? (Apart from the fact that it’s utterly landlocked!)