As religious historian, Keith Watkins pays attention to patterns of faith, rituals that shape public life, and the practical life of religious institutions. His newest book (published in 2014) is entitled The American Church That Might Have Been: A History of the Consultation on Church Union. His graduate studies in Berkeley (Th.D. from Pacific School of Religion) focused on nineteenth-century liberalism and American religious studies.
During a 33-year career at Christian Theological Seminary , he specialized in the history and theology of Christian worship. His books Liturgies in a Time When Cities Burn, Faithful and Fair: Transcending Sexist Language in Worship, and Thankful Praise: The Eucharistic Norm of Christian Worship illustrate this interest. A continuing interest in religious history is evident in his 2009 book A Visible Sign of God’s Presence: A History of the Yakama Christian Mission. Currently, he working on his theological memoir, entitled Eucharist and Unity.
As aggressive cyclist, Keith Watkins belongs to that tiny group of urban riders (probably not more than 2% in his city) who are willing to bicycle any place, any time, irrespective of conditions. Over half a lifetime, he has traveled on two wheels across much of the United States—in early years with members of his family, but for a quarter of a century as a solo rider. He pays attention to the interaction of geography, culture, and the issues of human life.
The result is a series of self-published, historically oriented monographs. Among them: ReEngineering the Engineered World: The Salton Sea by Bicycle, Bicycling Through Time on the Wilderness Road, and Sky Island Soliloquy (a winter’s ride in southern Arizona). In June 2010, he bicycled the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath along the Potomac River and the Great Allegheny Passage, a journey from Washington, D.C., to Pittsburgh. He continued westward on historic Route 40 to Indiana. Later in the summer, he joined PAC Tour’s expedition from Albuquerque to the Grand Canyon and back, 1,000 miles in two weeks. He has described the trip in Traveling through the Open Windows of Time.