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Online Program Book

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A19-101

Theme: Department Chair and Program Coordinator's Breakfast

Saturday, 7:30 AM-8:45 AM

Convention Center-602 (Street Level)

Breakfast for department chairs and program coordinators.

A19-102

Theme: New Members' Breakfast and Annual Meeting Orientation

Saturday, 7:30 AM-8:45 AM

Convention Center-605 (Street Level)

New (first-time) AAR members in 2022 are cordially invited to a welcome breakfast hosted by the AAR Staff and Board of Directors, including a brief orientation to the AAR Annual Meeting.

M19-108

Theme: Dialog Editorial Council Meeting

Saturday, 7:30 AM - 10:30 AM

Sheraton Downtown-Director's Row H (Plaza Tower - Lobby Level)

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M19-113

Theme: Religion for Pre-Health Students: Building a Community of Practice

Saturday, 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Convention Center-604 (Street Level)

Are you looking for ways to promote religious studies as a discipline that's relevant to those entering health-related fields? Do you want to equip future health professionals with the knowledge and skills they need to care for our religiously diverse neighbors? Join in this conversation with colleagues who are leading the way in these efforts--and making their departments indispensable as they do so. We'll share strategies, pedagogical approaches, and resources as we form a community of practice around religion for pre-health students. The conversation is part of Interfaith America's emerging work at the intersection of faith and health, both on campuses and beyond. Please contact Suzanne Watts Henderson (shenderson@interfaithamerica.org) with any questions.

M19-104

Theme: DANAM 2022 Book Review Panel: The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Indian Philosophy and Gender

Saturday, 9:00 AM - 10:45 AM

Hyatt Regency-Capitol 5 (Fourth Level)

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A19-103

Theme: Rituals of Grieving, Solidarity, and Resistance

Saturday, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Hyatt Regency-Mineral E (Third Level)

As the ramifications of the global pandemic continue to unfold, the toll of the pandemic on bodies and practices of presence and absence grow ever more pronounced. Namely, how are religions in Africa and the African diaspora finding avenues to reclaim ritual spaces that rearticulate solidarity within novel constraints on physical presence? The importance of mourning in moments where gathering and collective ritual action are challenging, if not impossible, are coupled with the renegotiation and shifting of gender roles in providing care and accompaniment.

  • Abstract

    In the era of Ethiopian identity politics, the EECMY needs a theological response that could enable Ethiopians to live in the in-between spaces with in-between consciousness. In-between theology may enable Ethiopians to transcend ethnic hereditary identity and fictive Amhara identity with a consciousness that demonstrates in-between spaces for all Ethiopians in schools, religious organizations, and regional states. In-between spaces are socially, politically, and spiritually just and liberating spaces that demonstrate Ethiopians’ ability to live with self-dignity that accepts the other, whether that other is like no other, like some others, and like all others.[1] 

     

    [1] Emmanuel Y. Lartey, In Living Color: An Intercultural Approach to Pastoral Care and Counseling 2nd ed. (London: Jessica Kingsley Publisher, 2003).

  • Abstract

    This essay addresses the destabilizing of Tiriki traditional spirituality and values in the conducting of burials during the Covid-19 period. It takes a sharp focus on a burial ceremony, already in the public domain, of a respected Tiriki man. Owing to Covid-19 rules to seal the dead body in bags with no room for viewing, a wrong body was interred. According to the Tiriki belief system, life does not end with death but continues in another realm. Death and burial among the Tiriki are looked at from both spiritual and cultural perspectives with the goal of stabilizing the elements involved and avoiding further calamity for the living. However, this Covid-19 burial was botched as per Tiriki, traditions and customs. Multidimensional grief theory is utilised to explore the effects of Covid-19 deaths, deployment and effects.

  • Abstract

    This paper uses a Haitian Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY as a model to investigate how the intersections between Haiti and the African Diaspora; Haitian Protestantism, Catholicism, and Vodou; and, Haiti and the American discourse on race and Civil Rights, impact the discourse on gender. The model illuminates the tensions that inform gender practices, such as how men and women interact, engage sexually, and create family structures. How are women "constructed" within the crossfires of race, politics, and religious orthodoxy? How do we understand the African diaspora woman's experience relative to discourses of religious and political determinism? 

     

A19-104

Theme: Diaspora, Race, and Sexuality: AAPI Christian Pasts & Futures

Saturday, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Hyatt Regency-Granite A (Third Level)

This session offers historical, ethnographic, and theological analyses to consider the futures of Asian American Christianities, refracted through questions of diaspora, race, and sexuality. The first paper, ""Thy Kin-dom Come": Idealized Christian Nation and Identity Formation of Korean Immigrants, 1903-1919," centers on Korean immigrants who arrived at the San Francisco port from 1903 to 1919. It explores how Korean immigrants’ racialized experiences reshaped their conception of “Christian America” and in turn refashioned their ethnic, religious, and national identity in the American West. "Embodied Solidarity: Imagining the Future of Southeast Asian Kachin Baptist Diasporic Church-Community in the U.S.," employs womanist theologian M. Shawn Copeland’s work to examine constructive theological and ecclesiological methods and sources to imagine the future of the Burmese, Kachin Baptist Diasporic church-community in the U.S. The third paper, "Indecent Theology from an Indo-Guyanese Perspective: Toward Christian Liberation and Acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ Community," offers constructive proposals for disrupting heternormative beliefs and practices in the Indo-Guyanese Pentecostal Church. The final paper looks forward by looking backwards at two case studies, the 2004 Rickshaw Rally and 2009 Deadly Viper campaigns to illustrate the centrality of blogging in evangelical, Asian American "worldmaking."

  • Abstract

    Centering on Korean immigrants who arrived at the San Francisco port from 1903 to 1919, this paper explores how Korean immigrants’ racialized experiences reshaped their conception of “Christian America” and in turn refashioned their ethnic, religious, and national identity in the American West. As late nineteenth-century Korean society shifted from traditional ideals of Neo-Confucian morality to social Darwinism, concurrent with American missionaries’ arrival in the country, many Koreans perceived the United States as a “divinely sanctioned Christian country” founded on democratic values which promised political and religious freedom. By examining the monthly magazine Taedo, published by the San Francisco Korean United Methodist Church, and transnational print media Sinhan minbo, this paper suggests that in the face of California legislative activities and national immigration regulations, many Korean immigrants gradually divorced America from its association with Christianity, adapting Christianity into a Korean context while continuing to celebrate the American democratic ideal.

  • Abstract

    Engaging womanist theologian M. Shawn Copeland’s work, this paper examines constructive theological and ecclesiological methods and sources to imagine the future of the Kachin Baptist Diasporic church-community in the U.S. The Kachin Baptist community in the U.S. originates from Burma/Myanmar. I present Copeland’s theological anthropology that focuses on subjectivity and agency of despised bodies; her Christology which focuses on the historical, material, and mystical body of Jesus Christ; and her ecclesiology that centers on embodiment of basileia praxis, defined as “acts of justice-doing, empire critique, love and solidarity.” My engagement of Copland’s work offers theological gestures towards the future in which the Kachin Baptist diaspora in the U.S. practices embodied solidarity and actively participates in racial justice struggles among communities of color, while at the same time understands multi-racial identities in the U.S. and dismantles white supremacy and anti-Blackness within the Kachin Baptist community.

  • Abstract

    "Isn't it time the Christian heterosexuals came out of their closets too?" The Indo-Guyanese Pentecostal Church is constantly growing in Guyana, the Caribbean, and the U.S., holding much power in shaping the epistemology and morality of its adherents. Uniquely, Indo-Guyanese exists in multiple interstices, Asian, Caribbean, Latin and North American, in which they uphold anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiments. I offer three points of action that respect the human rights of the LGBTQIA+ that are necessary for the church to challenge its heteronormativity: (1) An autocritical analysis of how the church participates in the violence of the LGBTQIA+ Community. (2) Instead of being bystanders, the church must become active participants fighting for the humanity of the LGBTQIA+ community through a "theology of seeing," not staring. (3) Use a decolonial queer theology of liberation that is "indecent," which will challenge the antiquated and oppressive beliefs that harm LGBTQIA+ peoples.

  • Abstract

    One of the futures often heralded in Asian American evangelicalism – and in religious studies circles more generally – is the sphere of online publication activity on the Internet, especially in terms of social media posting and open letters. Our paper seeks to revisit this story of a cyberfuture by contesting the often-told story of Asian American evangelicalism’s origins in the 1990s from the ‘silent exodus.' We argue that their success in challenging white evangelical publishing houses lay in their mastery of the form and practice of the blog, notably by producing a large, consistent, and constant volume of content that dominated evangelical messaging. We revisit two case studies, the 2004 Rickshaw Rally and 2009 Deadly Viper campaigns, through a virtual ethnographic methodology. In so doing, we contribute to the discussion of Asian American religious futures by pointing to the past when the Internet was the future.

A19-105

Theme: Norms of Attention in South Asian Buddhism

Saturday, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Convention Center-Mile High 1F (Lower Level)

The topic of norms of attention is an exciting and emerging area of research, involving the convergence of analytic philosophy, non-European philosophy (e.g., Buddhist, Islamic, Indian, Chinese), and cognitive science. Normative claims about the responsibility we have for our attention underlie beliefs about what objects we should pay attention to, how we should attend, and the results of specific forms of attention. While some philosophers have sought to develop original accounts of normative attention, others have turned to non-European thought as sources of analytic categories, conceptual frameworks, and ethical orientations. By hosting papers which identify normative conceptions of attention, this panel seeks to augment Buddhist thought from South Asia in the emerging cross-cultural conversation on the norms of attention. As contemporary societies debate topics such as what we should focus on, now more than ever we need to investigate the norms which govern our attention.

  • Abstract

    I analyze the ethical role of attention in 14th-century Tibetan figure Gyalsé Tokmé Zangpo’s famous text The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas (rgyal-sras-lag-len-so-bdun-ma). Attention functions in the text as a type of tool for ethical and spiritual development in particular via Gyalsé Tokmé’s use of nested attentional vignettes where a reader attends to their way of attending in different situations. This functions both to direct the reader’s attention to certain kinds of situations and to adopt a more distanced perspective on their own attentional patterns.  

  • Abstract

    This presentation draws attention to the way in which a subset of reactive attitudes–hatred, anger, resentment, and the like–make us less free. Vasubandhu’s explanation of reactive attitudes (kleśas) shows us how they make us less free, as well as how they cause us to act wrongly by binding us and narrowing our attention. The kind of freedom that reactive attitudes take away is our ability to pay attention to what matters. This freedom is a thread that runs through the fabric of the Buddhist tradition; we can call it attentional freedom. When we have attentional freedom, we are free to choose amongst the options that matter; when we lack attentional freedom, we are not free to do so. According to P.F. Strawson, reactive attitudes provide us with a ground for moral responsibility because they are a part of our humanity. This presentation addresses Strawson’s omission of reactive attitudes making us less free and the implications of this.

  • Abstract

    This paper argues that the pervasiveness of affective bias on our conscious attention makes our attention normatively assessable in various ways. Inspired by the work of the South-Asian Buddhist philosopher, Buddhaghosa (5th-6th CE), this paper addresses how attention is dealt with normatively in Buddhaghosa’s account; specifically, I will analyze how even wholesome forms of empathetic attention can go wrong. My reconstruction of Buddhaghosa and the positive view I find there contrasts with the widespread reading of Buddhist views that focuses on the attenuation and elimination of bias in order to meet some attention norms. This solution is wrong-headed because all attention is always affectively biased to some extent. Therefore, insofar as our capacities for attention come in for normative assessment, our best bet for dealing with our failures is to train our attention with biases that work, biases that harmonize with those norms we reflectively endorse.

  • Abstract

    This paper is a philosophical anthropological approach to the topic of attention and an exploration of whether universal norms of attention can be established, focused on norms of attention in the lives of nuns at Changchub Chöling Monastery in Zangskar, Ladakh. In this paper, I will argue that the practice of attention or attentiveness is incorporated not only in textual studies and contemplative practices, but also in every aspect of daily life. In contrast to Susanna Siegel’s contention in The Rationality of Perception, I will argue that attention is not necessarily subject to rational evaluation, but is a nonrational, precognitive awareness of the object before it is named, distinguished, or evaluated. Further, I shall argue that the cultivation of attention in the context of a religious community makes the practitioner more attentive both to their own mind and mental factors but also the presence and needs of others.

  • Abstract

    Recent scholarship in religious studies has pushed back on the definition from clinical psychiatry of mindfulness as “present-centered, nonjudgmental awareness” and sought to clarify it with theoretical accounts based on Buddhist sources. Within Buddhist philosophy, the relationship between mindfulness and ethics has long been established. This paper presents Śāntideva’s account of mindfulness in Bodhicaryavatara as a normative account of attention and puts forth two claims: 1) in the fifth chapter, the joint operation of mindfulness (smṛti) and vigilance (saṃprajanya) applied to the objects of body and mind elevates attention from a basic activity to the focus of one’s life, thus ethicizing attention and training an ethicized consciousness; 2) in the fourth chapter, awareness (apramāda) involves an orientation to the morally salient features in conscious experience, manifests moral cares or concerns, and involves goals and knowledge. This paper concludes considering the implications of these claims for conscientiousness, climate, and catastrophe.

A19-106

Theme: Building and Sharing Open-Access Online Resources for the Study of Chinese Religions

Saturday, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Convention Center-107 (Street Level)

Since 2020, the pandemic has severely limited scholars’ ability to travel for fieldwork and research in local archives, and has hampered research projects in the study of Chinese religions. As we pivoted to mainly online teaching, conferences, and socialization, many have started reflecting on whether keeping some of these endeavors online might improve accessibility, ease pressures on institutional resources, and reduce our carbon footprint. In this roundtable, a group of scholars share their experiences in building innovative, open access online resources for the study of Chinese religions. They seek to promote a model of collaborative, open inquiry, and dissemination that, in addition to being pandemic-proof, may also help to address inequalities in the field. Presenters will reflect on pitfalls and best practices, limitations and strengths of digital platforms, concrete research outcomes, and plans for future development. The roundtable avoids technical specifics in favor of an inclusive discussion of the resources.

A19-108

Theme: Reproductive Labor

Saturday, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Hyatt Regency-Mineral C (Third Level)

This panel features papers that thematize reproductive labor, which encompasses both biological and social reproduction, in both past and present contexts. These papers define and/or queer reproductive labor in multifaceted yet clear ways and show how it interlocks with classed, gendered, raced, sexualized, and many other inequalities.

  • Abstract

    Lauren Berlant has shown how the legal production of U.S. citizenship and personhood is tied historically and symbolically to the sentimental ideology of (white) women as both wounded subjects and paradigmatic agents of social reproduction, with the latter utopianism inspiring redress of the former trauma. Armaryah Armstrong’s “Surrogate Flesh” connects this sentimental logic to an anti-Black Christian theology of redemption. Such theology links Black wombs to damnation by figuring them as threats to social reproduction’s futurity. Without presuming to escape altogether the binaries of redemption/damnation or utopian/traumatized, this paper pursues an alternative account of Christian soteriology that could disrupt their sentimental “time schemes” (Philip Fisher) as a way of staying committed to the problem (to echo Marika Rose’s definition of faithfulness). To do so, I turn to Stephen Best’s “historicism of failed reproduction” to develop a queer relation to salvation history against sentimental redemption’s anxieties about reproductive futurity.

  • Abstract

    This paper argues that discussions of reproductive labor must incorporate non-metaphorical theorizations of the reproductive labor of cis men. In contrast to theological scholarship and popular-level discourse focusing on women’s reproductive labor – and specifically, questions about abortion – we argue that to describe women’s experiences more holistically and liberatively, scholarly discourse must uncover and critique the paradigm of involuntary and un-responsible male reproductive labor. We highlight Margaret Kamitsuka’s work as a case study of the limits of current discussions, and drawing on Foucault’s analysis of Augustine’s “bad will” qua Adam’s erect penis, we trace oppressive constructions and reproductions of gender, positing that such reproductions unduly burden women. Building on this critique, we use Hortense Spillers’ work to trace effects of this reification of unequal, gendered labor, which in its extremity, recapitulates racist stereotypes and harm against Black people. In conclusion, we call for an ameliorative political theology that centers male reproductive labor.

  • Abstract

    Bilhah, the enslaved woman forced to bear two of Israel's sons, is variously treated in the Genesis tradition(s) as a nonhuman object. This enslaved woman, though listed among the mothers of the twelve tribes of Israel, is far from traditioned as a matriarch; rather, the texts from Genesis through the Second Temple Period present her as subhuman—sexually assaulted and alternately silenced, victimized, and demonized. These traditions variously represent her as an enslaved body, a field, a tool, an animal, a piece of furniture, and finally, something akin to a demonic manifestation of evil. So, too, in modernity, guided in large part by these traditions, people with wombs are treated as subhuman— especially women, gender-nonconforming and transpeople, and BIPOC. By reexamining and resurrecting the human beings represented in these foundational stories we may finally see people like Bilhah as fully human.

  • Abstract

    Encompassing both biological and social reproduction, ecclesial work and surrogate sex work, this paper offers a micro-history of a closely-bonded female pair and their entwinement in a complex social-ecclesial and economic set of relationships. Through methods that collect the fragments of their stories, we meet Hetty of St. James and Elizabeth Pinckney on the ‘frontier’ church of St. James the Greater in Colleton County, South Carolina, a Black Catholic center of education and ecclesial life.  The complex relationship between Hetty and Elizabeth demonstrates that production and reproduction of the Catholic Church relied on the illicit gains of obstetric violence, perpetrated by women as well as men and creating capital for Catholics both South and North. It is only with new methods that we might envision enslaved Catholic women building the Catholic Church, both willingly and as the victims of its violence.

A19-109

Theme: Book panel on Edward Slingerland's book, Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization (Little, Brown & Co, 2021)

Saturday, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Hyatt Regency-Granite B (Third Level)

This panel includes a presentation by the author, followed by responses from panelists from the perspective of religious studies, psychology, and cultural and evolutionary anthropology. 

P19-145

Theme: Theologies of Mercy and Black Liberation: American Christianity Through the Lens of Mimetic Theory

Saturday, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Convention Center-303 (Street Level)

This panel explores the nature of racial rivalries within the lived experiences of American Protestantism and Catholicism and considers the gap between theologies of communion and concrete experiences of communion. This gap, in part, results from the impact of racism on experiences of belonging among Christian people of color that shape notions of mercy and liberation within the Christian faith. As female professors, Julia Robinson Moore and Jaisy A. Joseph approach this topic as inside practitioners of Christiainity. As women of color,  Moore and Joseph also inhabit insider/outsider perspectives from the periphery of racial power that structure their respective faith traditions and academic institutions. Specifically, Moore is an African American woman and ordained Presbyterian minister. Joseph is an Indian-American SyroMalabar Catholic in communion with Rome. Both scholars use mimetic theory to reveal how the scapegoat mechanism operates within the sacred contexts of American Christianity.

A19-111

Theme: Comparative Methods in Undergraduate Pedagogy: Transforming Teaching in Trying Times

Saturday, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Convention Center-Mile High 4D (Lower Level)

In 2022, as the pandemic grinds on and environmental and social issues loom ever larger in our collective minds, we (as academics and educators), as well as our students, find ourselves confronted by weighty existential questions about the meaning and significance of the intellectual work that we do in our classrooms. The "so what" question has never resounded more clearly. This panel suggests that disciplined comparison can provide meaningful answers to such questions, not only by serving as a valuable means for investigating “religion” (defined broadly) as a cross-cultural phenomenon, but also by presenting students with a robust, generalizable system for making sense of the world. Rather than focusing on theoretical issues, this panel aims to foster a conversation on specific applications of comparison in undergraduate pedagogy, and will thus adopt a "show-and-tell" format. Attendees will be encouraged to ask questions and participate in the conversation.

A19-112

Theme: 'Cosmopolitan Ontological Ecosystems’: Interrogations of the Inner, Outer, and Under

Saturday, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Convention Center-506 (Street Level)

Diverse ontologies and the location of their sacred personhoods are hallmarks of Contemporary Pagan movements and their polymorphic antecedents. These panelists examine sacred personhood from within the hollow hills of Celtic cosmology to plant structures across their soils, from hypostatic cosmic elements in chthonic grottos to the mental cosmos of the reality architect. Reflexive and longitudinal ethnography, iconographic analysis, and horticultural discourse each reflect dimensions of religious personhood as affected by place, and place as inflected by personhood.

  • Abstract

    Although numerous studies have identified plant personhood practices in non-Western cultures, limited attention has been granted towards similar practices present in Western cultures. In the Study of Western Esotericism, where research on alternative cosmologies and European Earth-based religions finds an academic home, discussions on the topic are curiously absent from the field’s foundational works. None of the seminal overviews by two pioneering scholars, Christopher Partridge and Wouter Hanegraaff, delve into the cultural significance of animism present in the paradigms they examine – unless in relation to entheogenic plants. However, evidence of practices of personhood acknowledgment between humans and plants is documented in prayers, incantations, and agricultural traditions, often related to esoteric threads. These demonstrate that plant personhood is not only native to the European ontological and epistemological canon, but has continued to be both present and active in the West from the Enlightenment through the Industrial Revolution into today.

  • Abstract

    This paper explores the relationship between contemporary Paganism in the Irish context and traditional Irish cultural understandings of the spiritual realm or otherworld. The study is based on longitudinal ethnographic fieldwork with the Irish Pagan community, focusing on the traditions of Pagan Witchcraft and Druidry. The role of place is examined and the conceptualisation of Ireland’s landscape as sacred. In this analysis, there is identification of cultural concepts found in contemporary Paganism as a globalised religious tradition and how these relate to the traditional Irish culture. The perceptions of fairies in contemporary Pagan culture more widely are addressed. The comprehension of the otherworld as accessible via landscape has implications for embodied experience and ritual practice. Physical space as the locum for contemporary Pagan religion is addressed, drawing on applications of the spatial analysis approach in the study of religions.   

  • Abstract

    At The Green Man metaphysical store in North Hollywood, California, practitioners of Ced witchcraft learn to become “architects of reality.” Through a series of classes, they are trained to mold their own reality using ritual magick. This paper explores how academic concepts of a subjective and changeable reality have become instrumentalized in this form of witchcraft. Based on a yearlong ethnographic study of this group, this paper shows how ideas that began primarily as critique in the academic sphere have been put to constructive use in the world of witchcraft. This innovation is set against an academic and popular retreat from this critique in the face of similar instrumentalization by the far right, exemplified in terms such as “alternative facts” and “fake news.” Ced witchcraft is offered as an argument against such a retreat – another example of this critique being put to work in aid of very different ends.

  • Abstract

    The purpose of this paper is to explore the iconographic representation of the stages and goal of spiritual practice in the context of the community of Damanhur- the Italian religious community established in 1975 the by spiritual leader Roberto Airaudi (Falco Tarassaco, 1950-2013). This mapping of Damanhurian iconography –with particular attention to the pictorial works in the Temples of Humankind- in light of the community’s system of beliefs about individual transformation, the condition of humanity and its role in the cosmos will help us uncover the echoes between the movement’s philosophy and the gnostic traditions of the early common era. In particular, the exploration of some specific images in the Temple of Humanity will foreground the specific Damanhurian understanding of subjectivity and gender and its resonances in the writings of the early gnostic tradition informing the writings of authors such as Ireneus of Lyon (130-202) or Origen of Alexandria (185-256).

A19-113

Theme: Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christianity in the Midst of Catastrophes

Saturday, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Hyatt Regency-Mineral A (Third Level)

In the spirit of the 2022 AAR Presidential Theme, the papers in this session address the lived reality of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christianity in the midst of catastrophes, past and present. This session considers how mass disruption and hardship affect the core elements of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox religious identity, hoping to shed light on the local and experiential reverberations of global cataclysmic forces within an Orthodox Christian context. The papers in this session analyze these lived realities from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives, with a special interest in the ways that COVID-19 or other contemporary and historical crises have affected the liturgy and the ways liturgical practice has responded to catastrophes.

  • Abstract

    My paper explores the relationship between the pandemic and the Eucharist. I argue that pandemics is a moment of the ‘reversed’ judgment: it is not the community that is judging the world (as Eucharistic ecclesiology would claim), but the world that pronounces a judgment upon the community. Through pandemics, the creation ‘refuses’ to be symbolically transfigured, for the reason that, in reality, it is being disfigured by humanity and the Christian community. Current pandemic can be read as a moment through which the creation is both challenging and suspending the Eucharistic ecclesiology. The pandemic is apocalyptic in so far as it reveals the end of ‘sacramentality’, and constitutes a call to spiritual and ecological conversion.

  • Abstract

    Ongoing crises in Syria and Lebanon have displaced millions and have raised difficult questions of religious and national identity. To better understand how Middle Eastern Christian communities grapple with such catastrophes, this paper turns to the history of the diverse and understudied Antiochian Greek Orthodox Christian community of Bilad al-Sham and its diaspora in the 19th and 20th centuries. Through a comparative lens and a multi-disciplinary approach, this study examines how Orthodox Christians navigated the aftermaths of local episodes of sectarian violence and the redrawing of political borders in the region. It centers Orthodox voices by drawing on an array of sources produced by members of the community itself, including the archives of the Antiochian Patriarchate, community newspapers published in Arabic, personal correspondence, and cultural production. Ultimately, I argue that experiences of violence, displacement, and forced migration shaped the community’s engagement with fluid national and religious identities in profound ways.

  • Abstract

    This paper reads the question of contemporary destruction and its reverberations in post-civil war Lebanon through a monograph composed by a Syrian-born Lebanese Orthodox ascetic Hieromonk Aspiro Jabbur (d. 2018), al-‘itirāf wa al-taḥlīl al-nafsi (Confession and Psychoanalysis, 1990) as it stages a complex and aphoristic encounter between psychoanalysis and Orthodox Christian ascetical practice. It considers Jabbur’s citation of the ambivalence of the death drive—as both a Divine injunction and a potentiality of the soul—in parallel with Freud’s own twin essays, “Thoughts for the Time of War and Death” (1914), as they engage with the agency of a destructive trieb (drive). I conclude by considering the topology of the soul under these terms of destruction as one which defies an intutive structure of 'inside' and 'outiside'; destruction, as in the drive, is neither ‘inside’ nor ‘outside’ but akin to the very torsion that forges the nafs, the subject.

A19-114

Theme: Theologies of Ecclesial Dialogue, Discernment, and Consensus-Building

Saturday, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Hyatt Regency-Mineral B (Third Level)

Dialogue is a longstanding component of ecclesial praxis, especially in recent years in the ecumenical movement and in other areas of inter- and intra-ecclesial relations. Various contemporary events and movements have restored focus upon dialogue, discernment, and consensus-building in the Christian churches. . Dialogue and consensus-building seem to many Christians a part of the nature of the church and not an optional practice. These papers approach questions of dialogue, consensus, and decision-making from a variety of perspectives. The first two papers highlight case studies of ecclesial dialogue, and the second two papers address more theoretical questions of ecumenism and ecumenical dialogue. 

  • Abstract

    This paper examines efforts at ecclesial dialogue between two Adivasi (indigenous) Lutheran churches in North India. The churches’ division stems not from doctrine but rather the way they engage with ethnic differences. I explore the history of their conflict and the theological underpinnings of the two churches’ positions, noting in particular the relevance of their differing approaches to contextual theology. Building upon the work of Jhakmak Neeraj Ekka, one of the leaders involved in the dialogue, I argue for an approach to ecclesial dialogue that embraces local identities but does so as part of the ultimate goal of mutual transformation.

  • Abstract

    Autocephaly as the paradigm of political autonomy imbued with religiosity has easily been transformed into orthodox nationalism; i.e. orthodox nationalism is related to the imperial heritage carried out by autocephaly throughout centuries without a proper reflection in the church.

    Nationalism – whether according to modernists or as a perennial ethnicity - has been a soft spot of the orthodox ecclesiology, demonstrating an immense capacity to absorb as well as to expose the national at the request of the political. On the other side, there is the Eucharistic ecclesiology, a driving force of the Orthodox tradition, like any other dynamic power, assembling in a systematic way spiritual gems disseminated in time and space. The Eucharistic vision is perfectly capable of helping the autocephalous churches in their reception of one another’s differences in peace and love.

  • Abstract

    The modern ecumenical goal of full-visible unity has been redefined over time. Many originally assumed that this would mean official reconciliation between church officials and lead to a single unified church structure. Over time, ecumenists proposed that diversity in unity might look like communions of churches. Today we cannot ignore the real divisions that exist between Christians within our traditional ecclesiastical boundaries. Ecumenical cooperation has even at times even been used to foster disunion within communions. This paper will argue that the achievements of the magisterial ecumenical movement and the lessons of receptive ecumenism must be used to foster a new phase of ecumenical reconciliation that directly attends to the real wounds existing within and across communions, prioritizing the places where the church has failed to “discern the body” within its midst. Such an ecumenism must move beyond "hierarchialism" to prioritize the whole church's unity, especially with those historically marginalized.

  • Abstract

    The charismatic dimension of discernment decenters the teaching office in the work of ecumenical dialogue. Discernment is a charism given to the church by God to guide its members into truth. The teaching office is entrusted with particular charisms, yet discernment is a charism exercised by the whole Christian community. The charismatic nature of the church is a result of God’s presence within the Christian community. For dialogue to contribute to the task of ecumenism, dialogue commissions must foster equitable participation of all those who enjoy koinonia with each other. I demonstrate this from the experience of Pentecostal participation in ecumenical dialogue. How Pentecostal communities around the world have engaged efforts of dialogue offers insight into the place of dialogue in the church’s life. Pentecostal experience in dialogue has elevated the charismatic nature of discernment, decentering the role of the teaching office in achieving consensus among churches.

A19-115

Theme: Evangelicalism and Environmental Catastrophe

Saturday, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Hyatt Regency-Granite C (Third Level)

  • Abstract

    A reasonable cultural perspective on evangelicalism would not align it with environmental concerns. Particularly in its’ noisier, white and North American manifestations, the complex and growing phenomena of evangelicalism(s) has a reputation for a focus on the eternal salvation of human souls; to the detriment of reasonable concern for the present world. This paper suggests that there is a scandal of evangelical environmentalism, rooted not in an anti-science phenomenology, but rather in a failure to take the bible as seriously as the movement claims to.

     

    This paper will draw on the recent history of evangelicalism to attempt to show that whilst popular perception and lay reality may indeed point to a scandal of the lack of an evangelical environmentalism, the resources exist within and from that tradition to address it.

  • Abstract

    The evangelical community in the United States offers no united approach to addressing – or denying – the impending environmental crisis; nevertheless, it has been deemed a major hinderance to adequate environmental progress. Given this deficiency, how must U.S. evangelicalism grow/adapt in order to adequately respond to the polymorphic challenges of the environmental crisis? Related, can this be accomplished by resources distinctive to the evangelical tradition without evolving into something else entirely? This paper will argue that evangelicalism’s foundation of gospel-centric biblicism is capable of grounding a truly evangelical response to the environmental crisis only if it is able to sever evangelical fidelity to partisan politics and constructing a vocational anthropology consistent with the evangelical focus on faith in the redeeming work of Christ that restores believers to right relationship with God, others, and creation.

  • Abstract

    In face of the current climate crisis, evangelicals’ denial of or ambivalence about the climate is well documented. But perhaps more disturbing is the growing movement to vilify ecotheology and Christian campaigns for climate justice. Spearheaded by prominent evangelical leaders, the Cornwall Alliance is a religious anti-environmentalist initiative that includes a program titled “Resisting the Green Dragon,” which denounces creation care as neo-pagan nature worship and proffers instead a dualistic gospel that weds sin to creation and Christianity to free-market capitalism. The alliance’s anti-environmentalism is entangled with a militant Christianity where enemies abound and Christians—like God—reflect a rugged masculine ideal in their role as “masters of the earth.” Utilizing the research of Kristin Kobes Du Mez, who shows that the cultural ideal of American manhood has exceedingly shaped evangelical ideals like those of the alliance, as well as the creation theology of John Calvin, this paper argues for an ecotheology that takes seriously the dangers of idolatry and reclaims Calvin’s robust pneumatology of creation as a resource for understanding the value of the earth.

  • Abstract

    The connection between commitment to addressing the ecological crisis and differing conceptions of Christian eschatology has been widely observed in recent decades. In particular, it has often been assumed that the necessary theological response to evangelical inaction on environmental issues is a strongly this-worldly– continuationist – vision of new creation. (See e.g. Wright.) At the same time, there has been retrieval of elements of Christian hope which foreground themes of discontinuity (Boersma, Allen). Moreover, there have been challenges to the exegetical basis of strongly continuationist claims (Adams) and doctrinal reactions to reductions of hope to an immanent frame – eschatological naturalism (Sonderegger, Allen). This paper raises the question of where all of this leaves the connection between ecological witness and the content of evangelical hope. While highlighting some salutary emphases of continuationist construals, it explores how more discontinuous pictures need not undermine action for ecological justice, and can in fact (as Thurman noticed) sustain commitment when prospects seem bleak.

A19-116

Theme: New Books in Hindu Studies

Saturday, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Convention Center-401 (Street Level)

This Roundtable features four first monographs in Hindu studies with the aim of both exposing scholars in the field to new theoretical interventions, and of providing concrete ideas about how to incorporate those interventions into scholars’ own pedagogies. The authors are grouped in pairs and then respond to each other’s books. While all four books this year analyze aspects of Vaishnava traditions, the content and scope of each book is strikingly varied. The first pair of books closely examine premodern works of Vaishnava literature alongside texts from other religious traditions: Christianity and Islam. The second pair explore devotion to Krishna using two very different yet equally fascinating frames: geoaesthetics and branding. Spanning diverse locations from Braj to Bengal to New York City, languages including Sanskrit, Bengali, Hindi, and English, and both textual and ethnographic methodologies, these books provide a snapshot of the breadth of the field of Hindu studies.

A19-117

Theme: Lived Religion in Japan

Saturday, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Convention Center-502 (Street Level)

On the 25th anniversary of the groundbreaking volume Lived Religion in America (Hall 1997), this panel reexamines the increasingly prominent field of “lived religion.” Theoretical formulations of the approach emphasize personal narratives, localized practices, and overcoming oppositions between the high and low, elite and popular, and institutional and lay. As the field has developed, however, it has often reinforced the very oppositions it sought to overcome, through greater emphasis on individual, lay, and marginalized practices. Moreover, evidence from Buddhism and Japanese religions has been overshadowed by a predominant focus on Western contexts. This panel aims to help correct that. The four papers range from medieval to contemporary Japan, and all span such divides as the individual and institutional, lay and monastic, and official and “everyday.” Collectively, they widen the spotlight on boundary crossing that lived religion studies aim to illuminate, while redressing the category from closely situated Japanese contexts.

  • Abstract

    In early thirteenth-century Japan, Buddhist practitioners faced many types of disasters: effects of famine and drought, violence and its results, and spiritual precarity with the widespread belief in the decline of Buddhist teachings. To deal with these situations, various Buddhist practices were propagated. One that gained wide popularity was the exclusive nenbutsu, promoted as a singular effort allaying the need for adherence to Buddhist morality and other “self-power” traditions. For the monk Myōe (1173-1232), dealing with both personal and social conceptions of “disaster,” this newly-popularized practice itself presented a danger to Buddhist teachings. In response, he crafted the sanji sanbōrai (“veneration of the Three Treasures thrice [daily]”) practice incorporating a painted ritual image. This paper discusses the painting and practice through the lens of a lived religion framework to address the role of religious praxis in individual and communal responses to a range of disasters.

  • Abstract

    In the autumn of 1800, a crowd gathered in a small temple just outside of Nagoya to see Ta’a Son’yū, the 54th patriarch of the Ji sect. Petitioners received slips of paper with the name of Amitabha Buddha on them, which were popularly called “tickets to paradise” (gokuraku e no fuda). Our guide to Son’yū’s visit is the samurai-cum-publisher, Kōriki Tanenobu (1756-1831). Kōriki was an avid attendee of festivals and temple displays, and he recorded his visits in journals and illustrated short books. In his work, Kayazu dōjō sankei ki, we see the push of the crowd, the touch of the slips of paper, the cool of the water for handwashing. In this paper, I use Adam Yuet Chau’s modalities of doing religion and David Morgan’s discussion of the visual and material aspects of lived religion to examine the practices at this temple.

  • Abstract

    In the 1950s, Sōtō reformers invented a style of chanting hymns, named Baikaryū (lit., lineage of plum blossoms). Other Buddhist schools had already founded lineages of hymn chanting in the early 20th century based on older hymns called goeika. When Sōtō reformers modernized their religion after WWII, they used these as models to create their own hymn chanting style for choirs. These choirs became popular among lay devotees, especially women.

    This paper examines how practitioners interpret this practice based on ethnographic fieldwork and publications of the Baikaryū. I show that clerics understand singing as an expression of the realization of buddhahood, a practice equal to seated meditation. Many lay devotees follow this interpretation, but the participation in choirs also fulfils additional functions, such as grief care, social support, and leisure. Thus, I suggest that music is a vital aspect of Zen as a lived religion.

  • Abstract

    This paper introduces ethnographic data from Japan to elaborate a theme found in studies of lived religion: what is the relationship between the individual and institutional orthodoxy? Applying insights from anthropologist David Graeber’s work on the connection between power and stupidity, this paper examines case studies of conflicts between individuals’ diverse modes of moral (and religious) expression and experience and the institutional orthodoxies that aim to limit and censor them in the name of preserving hierarchy and control. It is argued that the experience of dilemmas imposed by obviously counterfactual institutional orthodoxies is an important feature of lived religion for those in Japan’s clerical vocations today. The case studies presented show how individuals struggle with reality-denying dogmas surrounding taboo topics like violence against children in the criminal justice system and the accelerating financial decline facing most Japanese religions today.