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Online Program Book

In-person sessions begin with an A-prefix (i.e., A20-102), whereas Virtual sessions begin with an AV-prefix (i.e., AV20-102)
All Times are Listed in Central Standard Time (CST)

AV20-209

Theme: The Lived Realities of Buddhist Economics

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (Virtual)

This panel illuminates how Buddhist cultures incorporated, and continue to do so, economics and value-making as a part of maintaining and sustaining religiosity since 200 BCE. In doing so, this group of papers provides new perspectives on how Buddhism and economics are not a new theoretical approach but a continuous necessity of maintaining and sustaining Buddhist sites, religion, and practices. The study of Buddhist Economics so far primarily focuses on theory that highlights how Buddhism and economy are in contradiction. However, this panel provides new research on how Buddhist groups have always relied upon economics as a means for growth and stability. In similar ways, groups from South Asia, Tibet, Sikkim, China, and Hawaii formulate methods of value-making of religious material and sites that expand beyond ideas of merit-making or purification. In this way, the study of Buddhism expands to include how religious groups are not constrained by religious ideas but fully incorporate business models, which are not perceived as separate or non-religious.

  • Abstract

    I devise the concept of "scriptural economy" as a framework for describing how Buddhists employed anthologies in order to solve problems of supply (scriptures too abundant to digest) and demand (the needs of specific audiences and context). First, I describe the Buddhist anthological project of the seventh-c. Chinese scholar-monk Daoshi, drawing attention to how this Buddhist anthologist directs the management of scriptural text. Next, I argue that Daoshi figures both himself and his readers as bodhisattva-entrepreneurs, developing virtuous bodies that forgo most of the dharma available in order to focus more intensively on targeted readings of the canon. Anthologies create "new" value at the risk of losing fidelity to the fullness of the canon, which they each claim not only to preserve but to lift up as well. Heroic, self-sacrificial, efficient, beneficent the medieval Asian bodhisattva-anthologist prefigures the nineteenth c. European bourgeois.

  • Abstract

    This paper explores how Sikkim is reaping economic gains through the creation of a “Buddhist” national identity for tourist appeal. The relationship between religious sites and national identity helps to understand how growth and stabilizing of a religion depends upon economic support of a region. I focus on: 1) the incorporation of Buddhist mythic narratives on Sikkim’s national identity, 2) the promotion of religious sites and festivals on Sikkim’s tourist websites, and 3) the range of activities performed at Sikkim’s sites. Specifically, for this paper, I focus on the myth of Guru Rinpoche and how it is incorporated into Sikkim as a Buddhist land even though most Sikkimese do not identify as Buddhist. The government’s tourism website promotes Buddhist sites and festivals as appealing to non-religious tourists. I also describe the types of tourists and their activities in various locations found in Gangtok, Sikkim’s Do ‘drul monastery as examples on how visitors to a religious site cannot be identified as Buddhist or non-Buddhist but do add value to a location and to a state thereby exemplifying the need for Sikkim to create itself as a “Buddhist” state.

  • Abstract

    This paper argues that there is a contrast between contemporary “Buddhist Economics” theories and historical economic practices of Buddhists. By providing two material cultural case studies from ancient Sri Lanka and India, from circa 200 BCE to 500 CE, I evaluate the academic argument that early Buddhists possessed a socio-economic vision remarkably similar to Modernist views toward justice and social order. The data suggests something else: that early Buddhist societies in South Asia were not market denying but rather market embracing for the betterment of practitioners’ lives. In ignoring the history of Buddhism in Asia, the field of “Buddhist Economics” has missed economic innovations and practitioners' contributions who have made their spiritual and lived realities easier, better, and more prosperous by embracing market forces. By reinterpreting the ancient religious formula “for the welfare and happiness of all beings” I argue that early Buddhism advocated for moral and material prosperity together in line with Adam Smith’s idea that commercial societies and their markets are moralizing forces that generate preferable social outcomes and thrive with moral actors.

  • Abstract

    Japanese Buddhist temples outside of Asia draw on mutually-reinforcing networks of Dharma practice, social association, and fund-raising/labor to meet community and individual needs. These three phenomena can be individually labeled but rarely if ever occur apart from one another. Rather, each is an indelible aspect of the others, such that fund-raising is a form of Dharma practice, gathering with peers is a way to raise money, and Buddhism is practiced as a form of group solidarity and support. These tight weaves have enabled temples to thrive in racially and religiously hostile lands, under changing economic circumstances, and through periods of stability, war, and natural disaster. Drawing on archival material and oral history, this paper takes as its case study the Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin, on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Founded in 1889, it is the oldest surviving temple outside of Asia. As such, it provides an unusually full display of the stages that Buddhist institutions have gone through as they developed their Dharma, social, and financial/labor support activities, and the adaptations that have been necessary as Buddhists evolved to survive in non-Buddhist societies.

  • Abstract

    Lay Buddhists, especially in modern Chinese cities, had been active entrepreneurs. Groups of devotees today look for new ways to practice religion, which are more compatible with their lifeworlds. This paper focuses on how Lay Buddhists have operated to facilitate their practice in urban spaces against the Chinese state's attitude towards Religious Groups. A case study on a Tibetan Buddhist group in Shanghai explores the phenomenon of "Living Hall" (Shenghuo guan), a business model employed by the group for building an urban Buddhist community. The author argues that the Living Hall model represents religion and state's delicate dynamics, suggesting it is used to assimilate and nuance their religious practice. Relating to frameworks such as merit economy and commodity enchantment, the paper aims to show how the commodification of objects and the enchanted actors who consume them can also suggest a subversion to other entities within society. The enchantment of Buddhism-inspired commodities and urban spaces works as a creative- power structure. Commodities serve as material agents that enable, de-facto, the revitalization of Tibetan Buddhism in Han China.

  • Abstract

    This talk explores some economic and social dimensions of the lavish material productions of the central Tibetan state. I share evidence from the giant stupa that was built to inter the fifth Dalai Lama, the first ruler of this state, after his death. The tomb stands out both for its opulence, formed of vast quantities of gold, gemstones, and pieces of jewelry, and also for the richness of detail with which it was documented in texts. These sources open a rare window onto details of Tibetan economy, society, and material culture that are often hard to recover. In particular, I explore how the tomb was represented as a thing of value, its many component parts and their provenance assiduously accounted and their worth calculated according to silver and grain standards. I ask also why it would have been important to represent the golden tomb in this way at all. Thus, in addition to considering the positive data I am also interested more abstractly in how this built object functioned as a symbol of value, and accordingly how its production participated in the production of the state.

A20-210

Theme: What Does Catholicism Sound Like?

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (In Person)

Convention Center-005

While Catholicism has long been associated with canonical soundscapes like liturgical bells, the participants of this proposed session contend that Catholic Studies has not plumbed the depth and breadth of non-canonical soundscapes. Our panel proposes that we expand the conceptual boundaries of what constitutes Catholic sounds to embrace a broad expanse of locations and contexts, sound media, and human activity. In doing so, we document the seemingly contradictory sounds of joyful children at play and the scream of an agonized penitent engaged in self-discipline, ambient nature in the gardens of a Marian shrine and commercialized sounds of the rosary broadcast through electronic technology and a chart-topping popular recording of Gregorian chant, the reported buzzing and grunts of a 16th century exorcism and the growling, wailing, and sliding of African American Catholics adapting the the gospel tradition into the Mass. Each presenter will offer a 3-5 minute recording or a representation of a specific Catholic sound, followed by a reflection on what new element or insight this specific piece of Catholic sonic culture reveals about the nature of Catholicism as it unfolds in specific social and cultural contexts. Taken together, these sounds represent a new approach to exploring Catholic experience on-the-ground in immediate human experience.

  • Abstract

    Over the course of seventeen weeks in 1994, the Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos sold two million CDs of their laconically-named Chant album, topping out at number three on Billboard’s rankings of US music sales. As Y2K loomed and apocalyptic anxieties accelerated, Chant promised its ethereal and unintelligible (to most) ambient waves of prayer would help listeners “prepare for the millennium.” Chant’s commercial success catapulted Gregorian chant into the pop spotlight, and unwittingly offered the Abbey of Regina Laudis – the US’s first Benedictine cloister for women – a path towards reinvention, after a decade of incrimination for rumored “cult-like” activity. However, the real trailblazer for plainsong’s explosion was Enigma’s decidedly impious 1990 breakthrough single “Sadeness (Part I)” – an ambient cornucopia of psalm quotes, breathy Marquis de Sade-inspired lyrics, a bamboo flute, and pulsating synthesizers. This paper will use a clip from “Sadeness” to discuss the 90s Gregorian chant revival, which music critic James Oestreich described as a “spiteful comet” come to obliterate the “watery folk-pop” of post-Vatican II liturgy.

  • Abstract

    What is the sound of Catholicism? For the youngest Catholics, it’s the sound of playing—laughing with friends about nicknames assigned to the priests or nuns, mumbling through a re-enactment of the consecration of the Eucharist for a congregation of stuffed animals, or the sharp bangs made by marbles clashing as they meet each other across the line that demarcated the black Catholic school playground from that of the white. As Jay Mechling reminds us, “Where ritual confirms, play doubts.” Play, allows children to “experiment with otherwise terrifying objects or ideas and [provide] a safe territory for trying out alternative solutions to everyday problems.” The form of play I am exploring here is play outside and beyond adult control, rather than play that is instrumentalized by adults for adult purposes. While these two forms of play often happen simultaneously, children verbally signal a shift between adult-controlled play and their own explorations with laughter, screams, and other sounds of joy or disbelief. In this paper, I will apply folklore notions of play to the experiences of Catholic children to critically analyze these sounds of play.

  • Abstract

    This presentation explores the "catholicity" of African-American voices as they sing the songs of Zion, the U.S. Roman Catholic Church, which many have incorrectly racialized as white and characterized as European. Because the highly affecting human voice emanates from the body, the voice discloses the unseen. Marginalized persons can call attention to their ever-present but forgotten bodies through growling, screaming, sliding, wailing, whooping sound. Through African American sacred music, Black Roman Catholics' in the post-Vatican II Black Catholic Movement proclaimed themselves to be "authentically Black" and "truly Catholic." These two phrases express two different notions of "catholicity," which is a multivalent mystery. Within the Black Church, Black Roman Catholics sing universal songs full of the protesting hope birthed in hush harbors and resounding on the streets of Ferguson. Within the post-Vatican II Roman Catholic Church, Black Roman Catholics have led and sustained the efforts to enculturate the Gospel through music for diverse peoples. In both senses, catholicity means unity in diversity.

  • Abstract

    This paper focuses on a seventeenth-century case of possession and exorcism in colonial New France to ask after the sounds of the demonic in early modern New France—sounds that included noise, music, speech, buzzing, grunts, and other kinds of non-verbal vocalization. What did sounds like these signify to those who heard them or heard of them in seventeenth-century Quebec, and why? How did conceptions of possession and exorcism inherited from early modern France affect such signification? What difference did the colonial context, including the presence of religious and ethnic others, make to the discernment of sounds in early modern Canada? What does attending to the sounds of the demonic—and to sound more generally—contribute to our understanding of early modern Catholicism and the history of religions? And how can historians of religion learn to listen for sounds both within and beyond the textual artefacts with which we’re left?

  • Abstract

    Reading 'against the grain' the accounts in the Georgetown Slavery Archives, we meet Sucky who has lived a very long life in the company of the Jesuits. Through the stories told about her, we hear her scream as a young girl when she witnesses a priest of the community 'taking the discipline' (in the Jesuit's words) and 'wipping himself' (Sucky's description). Attending to him out of concern for his well-being, the encounter has dramatic results. An analysis of two parallel accounts of the event reveal a complex dynamic of relationality, complicity and resistance in an economy of enslavement. Ashon Crawley's analysis of the power of breath will help draw out the theological dimensions of this sound, while feminist theories of relationality will ask whether Sucky provides broad resources for a consideration of Catholicism today.

  • Abstract

    Tucked away on a busy side street on a congested block that boasts multiple marijuana dispensaries and strip clubs, The National Sanctuary of the Sorrowful Mother (known to locals as “The Grotto”) includes 62 acres of pine woodland, gardens, statuary, and walking paths, 2 chapels, a monastery, and a gift shop. The Servites who run The Grotto orient their main ministry toward making the shrine a welcoming place, a sanctuary, for average, religion-adverse Oregonians-- the fleece-clad nature lovers who walk the Grotto’s mediation labyrinth, and tattooed seekers who pause to photograph the tall trees against the sky. The Servites are adept at translating Catholic religiosity into idioms of nature, wellness, and interconnectivity that appeal broadly in the Pacific Northwest. Sound is one significant aspect of this outreach. This paper will use a clip from a recorded garden walk as a jumping off point to explore the ways that both silence and sounds of the natural world are partners in ministry with the Servites in reaching out to the “nones” of Portland to offer literal and spiritual sanctuary to seekers who otherwise interact very little with institutional Catholicism.

  • Abstract

    The rosary is a consumer good that has been repackaged, redesigned, and reimagined to fit more easily into the lives of its users. Throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, inventors and Catholics reinvented the rosary and filed patents for new designs, creating pedagogical tools to guide Catholics in prayer. This paper explores how sound figures in the saturated sensorium of praying the rosary. It examines the sonic user experience of the rosary across various twenty-first century (re)inventions like the Vatican-sponsored “Click to Pray eRosary,” a wearable device and mobile app, and prior handheld devices that play recordings of the prayers and Mysteries of the rosary. These objects create soundscapes that are electronic, practical, and utilitarian. Rather than organs, chants, or bells, here Catholicism sounds like garbled and monotonous prayers played from cheap plastic electronics, and meditative music linked to sleek wearables. Across these devices we can see the rosary as a multimodal sensory technology that relies on connectivity and convenience for its popularity.

AV20-211

Theme: Buddhist Intra-religious Networks and Buddhist Religious Innovation in Late Imperial and Modern Sichuan

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (Virtual)

This panel aims at bringing attention to the South-West region of China and focuses on Buddhist intra-religious networks in the late imperial and Republican periods in Sichuan. Because of war devastation and massive migration to Sichuan, we observe the establishment of new communities and the influx of new religious practices that merged with the local religious landscape. The three papers in this panel will, in different ways, discuss three interrelated issues: religion movement and migration, the creation of intra-religious networks, and the creation of wide religious networks. One of the papers explores the role of migrants to Chongqing and their influence in creating new Buddhist spaces there. Another paper discusses Tibetan-Han Buddhism intra-religious exchange in Chengdu. A third paper explores Tibetan Buddhism and its development from Kham to other national and international locations. The panel addresses Sichuan as a place of innovation, exchange and experimentation, a place of original production of religious meanings, where different religious cultures come together and create new realities, and from where these realities move far and wide, nationally and internationally.

  • Abstract

    During the Qing, Chongqing (Sichuan in general) witnessed mass immigration, which fundamentally shaped many aspects of local life. I will rely on local archives to investigate the impact of migration on the local development of Buddhism. First, Buddhist monks migrated to Chongqing to rebuild deteriorated temples in the mid Qing. Here I’ll emphasize the previously unappreciated role of monks’ lay family members in facilitating this process. Monks often followed the footstep of their lay kinsmen who migrated to the same place. They often provided accommodations and financial support to their clerical relatives and facilitated the rebuilding process. Moreover, by the late Qing, Chongqing had become a migrant society in which lineage organizations were weak and the presence of the gentry class was minuscule. The porous social hierarchy in turn helped clerics establish themselves as a dominant presence in the rural society. One major source of clerical power was their control of sizable landholdings, a valuable type of asset in a mountainous and overpopulated society like nineteenth-century Chongqing. In sum, migration significantly shaped the formation of Buddhism in Qing Chongqing.

  • Abstract

    With increasing interactions between Tibetan Buddhists and Chinese Buddhists, Sichuan became a hub of intra-religious exchange in the Republican period. After being ordained in Chengdu, Nenghai (1886–1967) went to Lhasa to study Tibetan Buddhism. Through his strategic engagement with the local Buddhist leaders, he established a Tibetan Gelug lineage in Chengdu in 1938. It had seven branches in Sichuan, Shanghai, and Mount Wutai by the 1950s. The paper traces the history of his lineage and contextualizes its rise in the changing religious cultures of Sichuan. The discourse of Buddhist reform provided a powerful rationale for the Sichuan Buddhists’ acceptance of Nenghai’s lineage. By sharing the common ground of doctrinal learning and disciplines, and by cooperating with other Buddhists in education and protecting temple properties, Nenghai broadened the network of the lineage in Sichuan and beyond. The paper highlights Sichuan’s distinct cultures and geographical location for facilitating the admixture of Tibetan and Chan Buddhism. It also offers an example of the Han Buddhists’ efforts to establish an institution to spread Tibetan esoteric Buddhism in a major Chinese city

  • Abstract

    Treasures (Tibetan: gter ma) are teachings hidden in the Tibetan landscape for revelation at appropriate moments in history. For Treasures to be revealed, there must be auspicious connections (Tibetan: rten ’brel) present, which include the appropriate revealer and location. Historically, many Treasure lineages came from parts of Kham that are now in Sichuan Province. However, these lineages have transcended their region of revelation, as teachers in Treasure lineages have become globally known. What happens when place of revelation is detangled from lineage? This paper will explore this question by studying the lineage of Dorje Dechen Lingpa (1857-1928). Dorje Dechen Lingpa’s principal seat was Domang Monastery in Kham, but he traveled throughout the Himalayas, and two of his reincarnations were born in Sikkim. One of them, Yangthang Rinpoche (1929-2016) spent his life between Sikkim, Sichuan, and Taiwan, where he had many Han Chinese students. This paper will examine how auspicious connections on local and transnational levels – including historical circumstances, sacred landscapes, and shared religious histories – contributed to the migration of this lineage beyond Sichuan.

A20-212

Theme: Analytic Theology and the Academic Study of Religions

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (In Person)

Convention Center-207B

With a distinctive approach to solving problems in religious thought, a new journal, and millions of dollars of support from Templeton grants, analytic theology is a burgeoning method in our field. Analytic theology’s relation to the rest of religious studies, however, is unclear. On the one hand, analytic theology seeks the clarity and the problem-solving approach of analytic philosophy, which clearly does belong in secular universities. On the other hand, analytic theologians distinguish themselves from analytic philosophers by their focus on exclusively Christian theological topics such as atonement or resurrection. What place should analytic theology in the academic study of religion? Addressing this precise issue is William Woods book, Analytic Theology and the Academic Study of Religions (Oxford, 2021). This panel seeks to use Woods book to open a discussion specifically about the use of analytic philosophy to address substantive religious views in the secular university.

  • Abstract

    As an exercise in bridge-building, William Wood’s proposes a via media between analytic philosophy and critical theory. With serious worries about critique converting to hegemonic modes, Wood nevertheless contends it is “intellectually unhealthy” to sidestep critiques of knowledge production and power. In fact, some of the best theology takes the form of critique. Wood addresses theological objections to analytic theology, yet to advance a theological defense of analytic theology, additional support may be (surprisingly) shored up from a philosophical boundary-crosser—Paul Ricoeur. Ricoeur’s engagement with analytic philosophy stands against both Descartes’ cogito and Nietzsche’s anticogito, and Ricoeur is resonant if not isomorphic with Wood’s discussion of idolatry and the antihumanist impulse of hegemonic critique.

  • Abstract

    This paper engages Woods’ book to advance a position regarding the place in the secular university for substantive religious thinking and for what we can call the pursuit of wisdom. First, it reframes Wood’s project as a contextual theology, i.e., a theology geared toward the norms and plausibility structures implicit in a particular historical and cultural context. It argues that AT is well suited to the context of a secular university, where scholars band together for the disciplined pursuit of epistemic goods. Understanding theology in these terms opens up (or keeps open) an important set of institutional settings within which it can flourish—and, given the sharp recent decline of such settings, this is vital. Moreover, AT, so understood, is open to a strikingly wide range of religious and anti-religious commitments. There are limits, of course, but within these limits, AT provides a space wherein a variety of religious traditions can be fairly represented, interpreted, and interrogated. When AT is understood as contributing to the disciplined pursuit of epistemic goods, it can be pushed a few steps further in the direction of the highest epistemic good, namely, wisdom.

  • Abstract

    William Wood holds that the study of religion needs to move beyond the hegemony of critique and make room for what Wood calls “rigorous appreciation.” This paper argues that Wood is right that critique has a crucial role to play in the field, but its hegemony distorts our efforts to give rich accounts of religion and religiosity. The “epistemology of power” in the critical study of religion renders belief epiphenomenal and we need to make room for “post-critical” approaches to religion, including approaches, like AT, that work with an “epistemology of truth.” However, Wood’s take on the limits of critique would benefit from a more incisive account of different types of critique. The bulk of the paper then addresses what is perhaps the most important contribution Wood makes: the idea of “rigorous appreciation,” arguing that this idea has enormous potential for thinking about the future of our field, especially in terms of the contributions of humanistic approaches to religion.

  • Abstract

    This paper explores the value of William Wood’s book from the standpoint of feminist analytic theology, especially as it concerns Wood’s discussion of the goals, aims, methods, and rhetorical style of analytic theology. Her paper examines the roles that Wood sees reason, belief, realism, and practice as (appropriately or inappropriately) playing in analytic theology. It compares Wood’s university-friendly approach to other approaches in analytic theology, in order to explore where Wood’s book goes productively beyond these latter endeavors and reveals the potential for a promising, feminist-friendly analytic theology of the future, as well as where AT might still remain somewhat limited from the viewpoint of those who still stand at the margins of the discipline. Finally, it elaborates on Wood’s encouragement of projects in comparative analytic theology, putting Wood’s book in conversation with Catholic theologian Klaus von Stosch’s claim that the future of systematic theology must be comparative and with recent attempts toward establishing an understanding-centered epistemology by figures like herself and the American Islamic philosopher Gary Legenhausen.

A20-213

Theme: Sumner B. Twiss's Contributions to the Comparative Study of Religious Ethics

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (In Person)

Grand Hyatt-Bowie B

This roundtable panel considers the significance and impact of Sumner B. Twiss’s contributions to the field of comparative religious ethics in helping to define the discipline, providing methodological and theoretical clarification to the comparative study of religious ethics, and assisting in the growth and development of the field through his various curatorial roles. The panelists will present their critical appraisals of Twiss’s impact on the comparative study of religious ethics and offer their reflections on how his work can animate future scholarship.

AV20-214

Theme: Metamodernism: Emerging Theorizations for Studying Culture and Religion beyond Postmodernism

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (Virtual)

Join AAR's first-ever roundtable discussion featuring scholars shaping the burgeoning development of metamodernism theoretical category with cross-cultural relevance. Metamodern theory seeks to account for post-postmodern cultural shifts at the turn of the millennium and to reflect and perform discursive negotiations between modern and postmodern frameworks. Its initial theorizations originate chiefly from literary, art and cultural studies. The panelists' works are extending its scope, applying it cross-/inter-disciplinarily as a conceptual tool for understanding such wide-ranging phenomena as the rise of the Spiritual but Not Religious; the remodeling of utopias by Generations Y and Z; the informed naivete present in mythological themes in contemporary literature; ontological possibilities of diasporic visual culture, and more. We also propose meta-theoretical interventions to disrupt postmodern premises that still guide academic practice. Our panelists' diverse applications draw from literary and popular culture studies, art history, critical theory, theology and Asian religions, and represent cutting edge scholarship employing this comparative, methodological innovation

A20-215

Theme: Agency, Liberation, Transformation: Feminist Comparative Theological Perspectives

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (In Person)

Convention Center-305

This panel brings feminist perspectives and voices from Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, and Hindu contexts together in conversation. Interrogating theological anthropologies and implied epistemologies raises themes of comparative agency, solidarity, liberation, and transformation. The papers focus on particular women in lived religious experiences. Their stories are examples and models of engaged feminist and comparative methods. The panelists will discuss: 1) A reimagining of dualistic and androcentric readings of Mary of Nazareth, mother of Jesus Christ, and Fatimah al-Zahra, daughter of Muhammad, is directed towards gender solidarity and liberation for all persons. 2) Hindu Goddess Kali as mediator brings Ivone Gebara’s theological anthropology and epistemology into the realm of divine life, emphasizing interconnectedness, transcendence of dualities, and integral liberation for all creation. 3) The progressive exertion of women’s agency and authoritative leadership evinced as a site of liberative transformation, through the examples of Yeshe Tsogyal, Mother of Tibetan Nyingma Buddhism and St. Hildegard von Bingen, Benedictine magistra and mystique.

  • Abstract

    This paper surfaces affective kenosis, or emotional self-emptying, as central to the feminine ideal portrayed through John Paul II’s illumination of Mary of Nazareth and ʿAlī Sharīʿatī’s rendering of Fāṭimah al-Zahrāʾ. Treated comparatively, these androcentric models are reimagined toward gender solidarity and liberation for all persons.Chosen women in Christianity and Islam, Mary and Fāṭimah deliver God’s presence into the world through their wombs. While information about Mary and Fāṭimah within the historical record is scant, their legacies have been essential in shaping the trajectories of Christianity and Islam. Their virginity, piety, and bodily purity have been instrumentalized toward this end, betraying the complex motives of the sociopolitical and religious milieus of their hagiographers. Sharīʿatī’s Fāṭimah and John Paul II’s Mary are affectively kenotic, emptying themselves to serve those who depend on them most closely—men of God.Towards gender solidarity and liberation, these chosen women can be recast in light of their historical particularity, reflecting true partnership, and understood as companions among the communion of saints and ʿawliyāhʾ.

  • Abstract

    Christian ecotheology rejects problematic dualisms that separate and hierarchize the body and soul, humans and creation, man and woman. Ivone Gebara thus proposes an ecofeminist epistemology and anthropology. Epistemologically theological knowledge is embodied and anthropologically humans are primarily intrinsically interrelated. Gebara posits Mary as human-centered, unified, realist, and pluri-dimensional to counter male-centered, dualistic, idealist, and one-dimensional anthropologies. While the intersection of Hindu theology, ecology, and feminism is not as systematically developed as in Christian theology, Rita Sherma advocates for the Tantric Shakta tradition as the best resource for a Hindu ecofeminism. In the Tantric tradition of Kali, the body as epistemology counters traditional textual styles of Hindu knowing. Anthropologically, the Goddess is especially present to the marginalized members of Hindu society, offering liberation to all her devotees. This paper explores how Kali brings aspects of Gebara’s theological anthropology and epistemology together to emphasize interconnectedness, transcendence of dualities, and embodiment, thus inspiring integral liberation for all.

  • Abstract

    This paper will look at women's agency and leadership as liberative. Agency and leadership develop over time becoming the vehicle for women's empowerment, developing as repeating metaphoric multiple mobius strips'intersectional, pluralistic, diverse. As one side appears, it transforms into the reverse. Such has been the world's religious history of women, intermittently appearing and then disappearing. Through Roman Catholicism and Tibetan Buddhism, critical feminist theology can explain liberative transformation from silent non-agency as obedient non-questioning followers into competent leaders. Ye shes mTsho rgyal, Mother of Tibetan Nyingma Buddhism and St. Hildegard von Bingen, Benedictine magistra and mystique, are two historical women exemplars. Through comparative epistemology, their stories demonstrate the authoritative leadership and active agency women have and still play today in each tradition. One followed the Dharma of the Buddha; the other the Gospel of Christ. Faith and perseverance culminated in the achievement of Buddhahood, Rainbow Body, Sainthood and Church Doctor.

A20-216

Theme: Mentoring Session

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (In Person)

Convention Center-301A

This interactive session will give participants a chance to have facilitated discussions on topics of broad interests in Islamic studies, including publishing, teaching, and job market preparation.

A20-217

Theme: Contemporary Heathenry and Nationalism

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (In Person)

Grand Hyatt-Bonham D

The entanglements of particular interpretations of contemporary Heathenry with ideas of racial nationalism are well known. As Kaarina Aitamurto (2020) and other scholars of Paganism have noted, since the 19th century, variants of Paganism have at times motivated and informed manifestations of nationalism and far-right ideologies. In particular, the idea of a pre-Christian tradition associated with notions of land and genetic and cultural heritage continues to be attractive to some of those involved in nationalist movements. However, what has been perhaps less explored are the ways that Heathen nationalists interact with their Christian nationalist counterparts and where these areas of overlapping activism create unlikely alliances between members of these religious traditions. Moreover, many Heathens oppose ideas of racial purity and nationalism and seek to create a non-racial Heathenism. This panel will explore these issues to further expound upon the complicated and diverse relationships between contemporary Heathenry and nationalism.

  • Abstract

    The paper will address an emerging form of Heathenism, Nordic Animism. Connected politically to more progressive movements in Scandinavia and particularly to Environmentalism, Nordic Animism is one of the most innovative forms of Heathenism to emerge in recent years and a movement that seeks to address the issues of race, nationalism, and how it relates to their overall concern with ecology head on. In this paper I will address these questions and the challenges that this form of Heathenism faces regarding White nationalism.Nordic Animism emerged as a form of Heathen theology around 2017, although the ideas had been developing for a longer period. Nordic Animism was initially inspired by African diaspora religions, and has developed ideas that Animism can be a solution to the coming ecological crisis. By creating festivals, music and art it seeks to create a revival of a anti-racist Heathen spirituality that will also address the current ecological crisis. The paper is based on primary research on the Heathen community in Scandinavia and draws on historical data as well as ethnographic fieldwork.

  • Abstract

    Despite rising temperatures and a scientific consensus around climate science, there has been a persistent atmosphere of denialism of the realities of climate change among certain communities on the political and religious right. At the same time a rise in nationalism has followed the specter of increased immigration due to climate change, exacerbated by system-stressing events such as the global pandemic. As a result new alliances are forming on the political and religious right spurred by ecological chaos and social unrest. In this paper, I explore the link between the rhetoric of more fundamentalist forms of Christianity—including Christian Nationalism, which has garnered recent attention after the January 6th insurrection in the United States—and the rise of nationalist movements that engage in various nature spiritualities. As the realities of climate change become increasingly impossible to ignore or deny, I argue that a certain kind of white Christian nationalist politics mixed with anti-immigrant rhetoric influenced by Romantic tropes in constructing a sense of place is fundamental to understanding the ongoing transition from climate denialism to climate nationalism.

  • Abstract

    This paper explores the development and (re)articulations of Heathen-Christain relations in the wake of the European Migrant Crisis. Taking into consideration the work of Stefanie von Schnubien, Etienne Balibar, Mattias Gardell, inter alia, this paper examines the ways through which “community” and “ancestry” are variously deployed, such as to produce sentiments of “shared concern” and “cultural kinship” in opposition to the immigration and greater cultural presence of Muslim communities in Europe.

A20-218

Theme: Evangelicalism, Science, and Inequality

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (In Person)

Convention Center-006A

This session co-sponsored by the Evangelical Studies Unit and Religion and the Social Sciences Unit builds upon the Evangelical Studies Units previous research and on this year’s broader AAR theme, turning our attention toward Evangelicalism, Poverty, and Equality. It continues our problematizing of Evangelicalism and whiteness and the related interchange between Evangelicalism and science. Research will be presented examining four specific evangelical communities: Texas Methodists response to the 1918 flu pandemic; Anabaptist Hutterites responses to COVID-19; recent tensions in Evangelical creation care; and an ideological revisitation of the Scopes Trial in today’s approaches to creation science. This research will be responded to by two leading experts, raising particular concerns about how Evangelicalisms ongoing entanglement in matters of race and inequity are manifest within these findings.

  • Abstract

    Many scholars of Christianity and the environment place evangelical creation care in a threefold typologystewardship, ecojustice, and ecospirituality. However, this paper demonstrates what is to be gained by examining the tensions that constitute evangelical creation care. I draw on analysis of my fieldwork with the organization Restoring Eden and bring it into dialogue with recent scholarship on evangelical environmentalism to compare multiple evangelical environmental theories and argue in support of the love-centered trajectory set out by Restoring Eden. I argue further that Restoring Edens approach can also contribute to environmental politics more broadly by showing that a love- and care-centered approach democratizes environmental politics amidst the predominant technocratic approach taken by those who foreground climate change. While supporting actions that will ultimately mitigate climate change, Restoring Eden develops an ethic that does not primarily look to the hole in the sky (climate change) or the hole in the future (sustainability) but to the hole in our hearts (conversion), the holes in our societies (injustice), and the holes in the ground (destroyed habitats).

  • Abstract

    The Hutterites are an Anabaptist communal group in North America. The majority of Hutterites live agrarian lives on colonies numbering around 100 members. Hutterites have subsisted for almost 500 years partly because of their strict cultural ties and their ability to adapt to the constantly changing outer sociocultural landscape. Hutterite socioreligious worlds appear to be counter to “mainstream” U.S. society in significant ways. For instance, scholars of Hutterites have argued that Hutterites value selflessness over selfishness, community over the individual, cooperation over competition, minimalism over consumerism, simplicity and humility over vanity, the religious over the secular, and conservatism over progressivism. However, current ambiguity and ambivalence about the COVID-19 pandemic, is demonstrative, in part, of influences from evangelical and conservative discourses. This paper explores how some Hutterites and Hutterite colonies are responding to the pandemic and argues that Hutterites’ ambiguous and ambivalent responses to the pandemic have disproportionately impacted Hutterite women in terms of their daily practices and responsibilities.

  • Abstract

    This paper examines the response of progressive Texas Methodists to the 1918 worldwide flu pandemic. Many early twentieth-century Methodist conservatives conceived of the church’s mission as spiritual as opposed to material. Saving souls was the priority over helping the poor or infirmed. But the disaster of the 1918 pandemic led many Southern Protestants to see the church’s mission in a new, materially oriented light. The pandemic was a catalyst to rethink theological commitments and invest in building a spiritual and material kingdom. Though these progressive Methodists would refrain from adopting the Social Gospel name, their rhetoric and activities suggest that social Christianity was alive and generally well in the U.S. South in the decades following World War I.

  • Abstract

    In the century since the Scopes Trial, one of the most influential dogmas to shape American evangelicalism has been that of young-earth creationism. This article explains why, with its arm of “creation science,” young-earth creationism is a significant factor in evangelicals’ widespread denial of anthropogenic climate change. Young-earth creationism has become closely intertwined with doctrines such as the Bible’s divine authority and the Imago Dei, as well as with social issues such as abortion and euthanasia. Addressing this aspect of the environmental crisis among evangelicals will require a re-orientation of biblical authority so as to approach social issues through a hermeneutic that is able to acknowledge the reality and imminent threat of climate change. This paper explores the evangelical social conscience and suggests that the evangelical's understanding of biblical authority -- specifically whether or not biblical authority requires a young-earth understanding of the Genesis creation narrative -- is a critical determiner in whether or not he or she places climate justice on the evangelical social conscience.

AV20-238

Theme: Energy, Extraction, and Religion

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (Virtual)

This exploratory seminar will investigate the extent to which extraction has become a paradigm of the modern world with desires, aims, constructs and imaginaries reaching far beyond the mineralogical, influencing constructions of gender, race, political power, prosperity, and religion. Scholars in the newly emerging field of energy humanities persuasively convey the extent to which energy use and extraction are animated by cultural value and meaning production. While scholars of religion are trained precisely to interrogate these modes, methods, and systems of value production, religion scholarship remains on the periphery of these important conversations. The lack of convergence between religious studies and energy humanities results in key oversights and unexplored insights. This seminar seeks to highlight and hone the particular strength of religious and theological studies to analyze these modes of meaning production around energy and extraction.

A20-219

Theme: Emotion, Affect, and Social Change

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (In Person)

Convention Center-008A

This panel explores the role of emotion and affect in relation to social change. How do feelings about the possibilities of social change impact the ways we organize or fail to organize? How can studying religious affects and emotions help us better understand movements for social change? Exploring the emotions of anger, resentment, envy, and sympathy and describing attempts to control, soothe, move, or otherwise direct these emotions, these papers offer insights about social movements.

  • Abstract

    Sentimental feeling is rarely associated with serious politics. Between the concept’s historic ties to 19th c. white feminism and its role in turn of the 21st c. identity politics, few people today are inclined to claim it. Yet, a range of recent movements for social change—from the identity-based Women’s March to newly invigorating socialist feminisms—have led some to reconsider that self-distancing impulse. I argue we are seeing a shift from a feminist disavowal of sentimental feeling to an acknowledgment of feminism’s ambivalent attachments to it—“ambivalent” in the Freudian sense, producing visceral investment out of strongly contradictory feelings. I show how this shift appears in popular work by Elena Comay del Junco and Andrea Long Chu, who both explore these questions of feminist sentimentalism and its role in politics for social change through their own experiences of gender transition. I conclude by exploring points of contact between these questions and the study of Christian theology—a study itself often disassociated from serious inquiry due, in part, to its supposed overidentification with its subject, its sentimental talk of love and salvation, etc.

  • Abstract

    This paper investigates how resentment provides a unique epistemic platform from which to rethink liberal notions of responsibility and justice, advanced by early modern contractarian political theorists . In investigating how we come to owe the things we do, I elevate resentment from “ressentiment,” characterized as self-diminishing. I illuminate the ways that resentment asserts self-respect, whereby the harmed affirm that they are persons to whom moral harms should not be done and call to account perpetrators. Resentment thusly articulated, along with auxiliary emotions of anger, rage, envy, and desire for retribution, can serve as important catalysts in the fight for social justice. I investigate the Black church as a site of the nation’s moral and social conscience during the Civil Rights era. Where articulations of hope were often given in the register of righteous indignation, motivated resentment nurtured in religious ritual and conviction, I argue, demonstrated the capacity of religion to effect radical social change in addition to equipping its members with the armor to face existential crises that arise in a white-supremacist society where anti-black racism permeates.

  • Abstract

    Emotion and affect play an indispensable and yet ethically ambiguous role in social change, whether for racial, gender, and class-based movements for justice (and injustice), for immigration reform or climate change today. This paper draws on the work of Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote the first political treatise for women’s rights during the French Revolution, to illuminate the role of emotion and affect in movements for social change then and now. Wollstonecraft's nuanced moral psychology of reform and revolution, including an account of devotional taste, sympathy, anger, and the virtues needed to refine these, is as instructive today as it was then. She understands that religious tastes or affects, in addition to judgement, move us to action. Rightly formed, sympathy with the oppressed and anger toward oppressive persons, systems, and relations lead us to work for socio-political justice. The virtues of love, justice, courage, and hope that refine these affects help to ensure that movements for social change embody the justice they seek and so exemplify the new possibilities they imagine. This paper considers these affects and the virtues needed to refine them for justice.

  • Abstract

    In this paper, I argue that Tomi Lahren is emblema c of an ongoing tradi on of angry white women who define and negotiate their gendered experiences as white women affectively through, rather than against, white supremacist and anti-Black sentiments. Thinking with the work of Sara Ahmed, I trace how the reception of such women both generates and is mediated by the figure of the Angry White Woman: a woman whose anger is read as a ributable, positive, and morally correct. I then explore this figure through various permuta ons, including the Suffragette, the Handmaid, and White Power Barbie. All of these variations on the Angry White Woman demonstrate how white women’s anger, expressed as a form of moral critique, plays a crucial role in upholding an affective economy that sustains white America as sacred. To this degree, the affective investment in white America functions similarly to how Charles Long understands religion. To frame the anger of white women as religious is to see such anger as sustaining white dominance and white superiority as ultimate orientation. As such, I contend that white women's anger plays a role in ordering the world along white supremacist sensibilities.

  • Abstract

    In this paper I use recent work in “4E cognition” to understand how Christianity offers the resources to white women to self-soothe in the wake of their own violence. Using Lauren Winner’s work on the prayer life of Keziah Goodwyn Hopkins Brevard, I show how diaries, catechisms, and prayer traditions allowed Brevard to manage the contradictions inherent to being a Christian woman and a violent slave-owner. A 4E approach to Brevard’s prayers invites us to ask to what extent Christianity scaffolds such affective regulations today, and what it might take to do feminist theology without self-soothing.

AV20-220

Theme: South Asian Religious Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (Virtual)

This panel gathers scholars of Jainism, Islam, and Hinduism in order to answer questions regarding the impact of the pandemic on the religious lives of communities in South Asia: How has COVID-19 shaped how these communities understand their own traditions as well as themselves? How has it shaped their understanding of their obligations to the nation, including notions of civic duty and national healing? How have South Asian religious communities employed ritual, devotional, or other practices to combat the virus, and how have they adapted media and other technologies of devotion in order to engage in such practices despite the virus? Lastly, how do they engage religious logics of health and disease to promote and even contest national ideologies and dominant epistemologies of health and healing? This panel offers a timely contribution for the study of religious responses and ritual innovations during a pandemic, and a reflection on the complicated relationship between religion and society that such a health crisis both creates and showcases.

  • Abstract

    This paper examines how religiosity and national sentiment interact as Jains address the COVID-19 crisis. Through a case study of a Jain YouTube song on COVID-19 as well as its reception, and TikTok adaptation in India, she illustrates how digital media impact expressions of popular Jainism. It shows that this Jain interpretation of a health crisis intersects with national discourse and that in its afterlife, the song was co-opted within a narrative of national culture that leaves little space for a separate Jain identity.

  • Abstract

    This paper analyzes Bengali Matua narratives during the COVID-19 period in the context of unequal epistemologies of healing by analyzing tales of rurality, immunity and sonic devotion. She shows that although medico-governmental protocols enforce the suspension of ritual festivals and congregational singing, Matua devotees fear that they will fall sick if they are not allowed to drum and sing kirtan together (and in fact they maintain that such practices have prevented Covid deaths in their community). Lorea embeds dissident tales of Covid immunity in the context of hegemonic etiologies, and shows that—countering high caste and upper class urban privilege, biomedical imperialism, and dominant sonic ideologies— Matua narratives of immunity emerge as reinforcing the construction of the Matua religious identity as healing from social as well as somatic diseases.

  • Abstract

    The COVID-19 pandemic has brought out some key theological, ethical, and social dimensions of 'divine norms,' or, shari'a, in modern Islam. This paper examines three concepts, namely calamity, compassion, and caution, that structure 'the religious grammar of pandemic' in Muslim South Asia. The methodology used is 'digital ethnography' and they key sources are Muslim scholars' press statements, legal opinions, interviews, and the social media content of both scholars and lay practitioners. This paper thus uses diverse responses to the pandemic by both Muslim theologians and lay practitioners as a lens to understand variant deployments of shari'a in modern South Asia. It is argued that the pandemic has strengthened the religious authority and social relevance of clergypersons and madrasa-trained scholars, the so-called 'guardians of tradition.'

  • Abstract

    "This paper investigates how the Gayatri Pariwar, a new religious movement popular in North India, demonstrated a high degree of preparedness for COVID-19 in its early stages through web-based media statements and ritual innovations. From March to May, Gayatri Pariwar leaders used appeals to science in order to demonstrate the exceptional suitability of the group’s ritual practices for combating COVID-19 and its parent causes. Namely, their rites allegedly render the ritual body immune from disease and eradicate pathogens from the surrounding environment. This is not to say that the Gayatri Pariwar endorsed ritual practice at the expense of social distancing guidelines. To the contrary, group leaders have continued to encourage household versions of their rites alongside the provision of food and shelter to those in need, thereby positioning ritual practice in the service of civic duty. In sum, Gayatri Pariwar leaders encouraged a ritual response that they understood would produce resilient bodies, clean environments, and active civil servants.

  • Abstract

    This paper aims to understand how religious rhetoric has shaped attitudes towards the COVID-19 pandemic through a case study of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, a denomination of the Swaminarayan Sampraday. Through a textual and visual analysis of diverse religious media including, public sermons and letters by Mahant Swami Maharaj (b.1933), virtual broadcasts of weekly assemblies and daily ārati rituals, announcements made by sadhus and lay leaders of the organization, and informational programs, the paper argues that BAPS’s public discourse on the pandemic which balances individualism with the common good by connecting service to others with service to Swaminarayan has combated misinformation and influenced the perceptions of and precautions towards the pandemic among Gujarati Hindus worldwide.

A20-221

Theme: Identity and Infinity in Technofuturism

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (In Person)

Convention Center-205

Technologies that enhance human capabilities and connect us virtually in new ways can change our senses of ourselves and what it means to be "human". What we worship, how we have children, and how we relate to another all tell us important aspects of who we are. This session will explore issues of identity and religion in transhumanist and related visions of technofuturism, through science fiction, genetic modification, radical life extension, and networked relationality.

  • Abstract

    In 2016, bestselling author and historian Yuval Noah Harari released his work Homo Deus to enormous success. His work predicts either a radical technological transformaon of humanity into 'Homo Deus,' beings so categorically superior that one might be tempted to confer a divine status upon them, or the advent of a new religion he deems 'Dataism' which will demand the worship of the free exchange of informaon in the 'Internet-of-All-Things.' This paper asks whether the portrait of human desny painted by Harari represents a competent narrave for the trajectory of human religiosity. I will begin by extracng and criquing Harari's quasi-Comtean historical narrave that grounds his predicons. This will expose Harari's reliance on what has been called the 'Californian ideology,' Buddhist philosophy, and humanist ethics. His synthec worldview and narrave of history are then shown to be reduconisc, incomplete, and even self-defeang. Next, I demonstrate that both proposed future scenarios fail to provide grounds for the human impulse for transcendence and are unlikely to supplant tradional religious faiths. As such, Harari's proposals are fundamentally flawed.

  • Abstract

    Bodily enhancement raises important theological as well as ethical-legal quesons. Within the Muslim context, normative bioethical discussions, coinciding with and responding to the various applications of biomedical technology, oen make a distinction between necessary medical treatment and enhancement procedures. This presentation/paper investigates the range of Islamic responses to the issue of genetic enhancement, with a parcular focus on the adequacy of the distinction between therapeutic and non-therapeutic uses of the genetiShac technology.

  • Abstract

    Rather than join transhumanist pursuits of individual autonomy, Christian theologians align more closely with posthumanist emphases on relationality. Appropriately, biblical and theological themes of social justice or relationality often guide Christian ethical reflection on the development and implementaon of enhancement technologies. Such a telos of relationality proves helpful but does risk undermining the preservation of personal agency. The increasing economic, polical, and social strength of digital connecvity suggests that an ethical telos of relationality for enhancement technologies must also preserve the agency of persons for the sake of justice in the globalizing network society.

  • Abstract

    My paper focuses on the ethics and theological implications of Radical Life Extension (RLE) on childbearing. The pay-off for physiological immortality is the transformation of the aged human body into one that is ageless. Would-be mothers view youthful versions of themselves as fertile bodies able to carry healthy children to term. My paper focuses on two ethical implications of RLE biological strategies on childbearing. First, when they become available, RLE technologies will so expensive that they are available only to the rich; as a result, disparities in power will emerge as wealthy mothers decide to extend their lives and fertility but the poor cannot. Second, RLE technologies raise the “overpopulation and resource overutilization” objection, especially if the aged extend their ability to bear children. I show how these arguments can be defeated. I also attend to the theological implications of RLE on childbearing based on an Augustinian line of argument. Mothers, I argue, are drawn out of themselves and compelled to turn outward; through their children, they love God. For mothers, RLE technologies offer more me to grow into the experience of such spiritual transformation.

AV20-237

Theme: Challenging Hindu Fragility: Interrogating Hindu Studies from a Dalit/Anti-casteist Perspective

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (Virtual)

This roundtable brings together centers Dalit scholars and activists whose work on caste has challenged structures of power in South Asia and beyond. While engagement with these arguments has been limited in the disciplinary spaces of Hindu studies, the an-caste analysis offered by the speakers is crucial for scholars in this field.

A20-222

Theme: What Do We Mean by the Word Trauma? An Interdisciplinary Exploration

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (In Person)

Grand Hyatt-Lonestar F

The word "trauma" has accrued different meanings in various disciplinary contexts, with a more rapid accrual of meanings in recent years as trauma has been studied alongside related and often overlapping concepts (injury, harm, wounding, etc.). Theologians and ethicists, literary theorists, sociologists, psychoanalysts, and pastoral caregivers all engage trauma but do they mean the same thing? Definitions seem to be broader or narrower depending on whether one takes a theoretical or a clinical approach. Clinicians may use the term more specifically than theologians or ethicists. Writing on moral injury, post-traumatic growth and trauma studies reveals multiple definitions as well, in addition to the DSM 5. This session addresses the question of what we mean by the word "trauma" and what does it matter?

  • Abstract

    An increased amount of critical studies on the concept of trauma have indicated an urge for enhanced contextualization of this concept. Too often marginalized cultural and religious particularities of non-Western communities are still excluded from trauma-related studies and applications. This also applies to historical trauma. Recent years have seen the rise of historical trauma as a construct to describe the impact of cultural and historical suppression and colonization. However, historical trauma-related research is still mainly performed in the contexts of Indigenous peoples in North America and the Jewish Holocaust. In an attempt to contribute to the healing of this ongoing deficiency, this research is specifically dedicated to the conceptualization of historical trauma from the writings of a prominent Algerian Muslim philosopher from the mid-20th century. In focusing on these writings from a non-Western, postcolonial context, this research aims to contribute to a broader understanding of the concept of historical trauma in this particular religious and cultural context.

  • Abstract

    What the term “trauma” means often depends on who is speaking about it. This talk will discuss the history and limitations of one dominant definition: The psychological community’s. It will argue that the diagnostic criteria for PTSD used by the psychological community to establish trauma is a construction whose borders continue to exclude individuals and prevent the naming and addressing of traumatic harm. It will then offer an alternative definition of trauma as “An event that causes a crisis of meaning within the life of an individual or community.” It proposes this definition both makes sense given data from human experience and the role spiritual care providers play in the recovery process.

  • Abstract

    With the benefits of a growing awareness of trauma across disciplines and areas of public concern have come pitfalls. These include a danger of definitional expansion that can render “trauma” too diffuse a term to be meaningful clinically, theologically, or socially. In this collaborative paper, two scholars working at the intersection of psychology, theology, and clinical practice examine the phenomenon of including in the definition of trauma various types of suffering and harm that may or may not rise to the level of what trauma specialists identify as the overwhelming terror and neuropsychological injury of threat to life or bodily integrity. We propose that the definition of trauma we choose matters for the pastoral and clinical care of persons – those who are traumatized and those who are not. It is not our goal to come to one clear, agreed-upon definition, but to encourage a cross-disciplinary conversation with the aim of a more nuanced and critical use of the term across disciplines going forward.

  • Abstract

    For interdisciplinary researchers in religion, psychology, and chaplaincy, the clinical concepts of trauma and moral injury have provided the foundational frameworks for conceptualizing the pre-conditions of urgent theological care. Yet, recent psychiatric genealogical studies (Di Nicola, 2018) and clinical meta-studies (Griffin et al, 2019) have revealed, literature in trauma and moral injury is not merely becoming increasingly siloed; they are moving increasingly toward the conclusions that their discourses lack operational clarity over their core concepts. Drawing upon recent theological contributions in trauma theory and moral injury, the proposed paper explores how theories of trauma and moral injury are being stifled by their metaphorical underpinnings in medical discourse. It contends that Di Nicola’s diagnosis of splintering clinical and cultural communities is symptomatic not of growing disciplinary siloing that has grown over time, but rather of a more originary ideological conflict over the conceptual intent of their frameworks.

A20-223

Theme: Session in Honor of Dr. June McDaniel

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (In Person)

Convention Center-211

This session honors Dr. June McDaniel, who is stepping down from the Mysticism Unit. Dr. McDaniel has been a member of the units steering committee for nearly two decades (serving as co-chair from 2001-2008), and has contributed generously to scholarship on mysticism, Hinduism, and women in religion. Our panelists will discuss her work and the impact it has made in the field, as well as Dr. McDaniel’s importance to their own careers.

A20-224

Theme: Theological Responses to Poverty and Inequality in the 19th Century

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (In Person)

Grand Hyatt-Travis AB

Three papers examine the session’s theme in a North American context the theological underpinnings of education for the deaf; a Black Baptist preacher and socialist leader; the emergence of the secular discipline of social work among liberal Christians. The fourth paper covers a critique of the religious response to poverty in French literature.

  • Abstract

    Zola's trilogy of novels, Lourdes, Rome, Paris (1894 - 1898), collectively known as Les trois villes, were written to continue to counter claims over "the bankruptcy of science", countering with establishing the bankruptcy of Christianity, and religion more generally. the protagonist, the abbe Pierre Froment, having lost his faith though its confrontation with science, travels to Lourdes to regain it -- without success. His attempt to revitalize Christianity through a thoroughgoing commitment to social issues and a symbolic interpretation of its doctrines also meets with a lack of success when he advocates his ideas at Rome. the final novel of the trilogy, Paris, completes Zola's case for the delegitimation of religion and the triumph of science, by opposing a society founded on charity and paternalism with one that addresses social issues as issuing from structural injustice. Within the genre of the roman a these Zola must negotiate making his case convincing without compromising the literary quality of the novel.

  • Abstract

    Social work emerged as a discipline in the late nineteenth century, driven by the hopes and anxieties of educated, liberal Christians forging a middle path between laissez-faire industrial capitalism and labor union radicalism. This paper examines the historical emergence of social work through the lens of recent scholarship on secularism (e.g. Asad, 2018; Modern, 2015; Lloyd, 2017). It shows how pioneering social worker leaders brought secular sensibilities (e.g. an evangelical commitment to “scientific” rationalization and systemization) to faith-based charity in antebellum America. It shows the entanglement between social work's disciplinary development, processes of secularization, the formation of an industrial working class, and modern ideas of race. Such an account challenges both widespread assumptions about 19th century charity (i.e. the religious character of its ostensibly benevolent paternalism) and social work’s own self-understanding as a secular discipline.

  • Abstract

    The work of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, regarded as the founder of Deaf education in the U.S., was shaped by numerous theological developments in the nineteenth century. The reverse is also true: nineteenth-century theology was shaped by Deaf education in the U.S. This paper demonstrates that Gallaudet’s approach to religious instruction via sign language troubled dominant theological understandings of revelation (and thus of conversion and salvation) in ways that prefigured major theological battles in the mid and late nineteenth century. Gallaudet not only regularly affirmed that sign language was a sufficient medium for communicating religious truths to these “native heathen,” but also occasionally suggested that sign language was in a way superior to the traditional media of written and spoken language. Theologians felt compelled to respond to these ideas, but they did so rather obliquely, placing them in the context of a larger, more familiar theological debate about natural religion. The elision and elusion within their responses allowed them to avoid the more formidable theological provocations of Gallaudet’s work—which would resurface in other forms later in the century.

  • Abstract

    Recently, social historians have argued that the social gospel in the late 19th century was created primarily outside the institutional church. Others have claimed that the social gospel and Christian socialism were competing movements. Such accounts, however, implicitly adopt a racialized understanding of the secular that is in fact a version of white capitalist Protestantism. By pitting “secular” discourses against “religious” discourses in ways that fail to account for the complex and mutually constructive reality of such discourses, they implicitly adopt racialized categories and overlook important political ecclesiologies that were politically and economically vital for oppressed and marginalized peoples. Exploring the early life of Rev. George Washington Woodbey as an example of the Black radical tradition helps grasp how religion and radical politics were held together for 19th century Black radical social gospelers. By focusing on the economic and political role of the Black church in the lives of its members, we can retrieve useful examples for theologians, scholars, and activists interested in political ecclesiology for racial and economic justice.

A20-225

Theme: Heritage Economies and Material Religion Roundtable

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (In Person)

Convention Center-216

This roundtable convenes around the keyword heritage and its North American implementations and economies. In particular, participants consider ways this category is deployed in relation to material, spatial, and embodied religion. Heritage (re)constitutes values of the present through curated management of the past. Heritage organizes matter, place, and persons and materially inserts religion into purportedly non-religious spaces. Church and state deploy heritage to secularize religious histories and ideals for mass consumption. Heritage-making strategically mobilizes segregating mediations, generating binaries of religion and non-religion, home and away, native and alien. Heritage is often a blunt instrument in the consolidation and obfuscation of racist ideologies and their violence. Considering these dynamics, each roundtable panelist will present one case study from their work on the intersecting economies of material religion and heritage, before opening for a wider discussion of the term among participants and with the audience.

A20-226

Theme: Interreligious and Ecumenical Perspectives on Panentheism

Saturday, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM (In Person)

Grand Hyatt-Bonham C

This panel places interreligious, ecumenical, and open-relational perspectives on panentheism in conversation with one another

  • Abstract

    In Western theology and philosophy of religion, “dualism” typically refers to two utterly different kinds of reality, where one reality is good, the other evil or at least vastly inferior.The negation of dualism, “nondualism” in our context, however, refers to a metaphysics where there exists an all-encompassing, all-integrating whole. This project will categorize nondualisms, both Asian and Western, the latter including panentheisms, according to several opposing options: 1) undifferentiation versus differentiation; relative to nondualisms with differentiation from the ultimate form of divinity: 2) divine versus nondivine 3) indeterminism versus determinism 4) affecting or not affecting the ultimate divine fulfillment 5) ontologically dependent or independent of the ultimate divine; relative to the ultimate divine: 6) personal or transpersonal. Regarding ttranspersonal conceptions of the dvine, the paper will argue that Daoism and Mahayana Buddhism can profitably be classified as transpersonal panentheisms.

  • Abstract

    Responding to and building on Oord and Schwartz (Brill, 2020), the purpose of this presentation is to move the panentheist/panpsychic discussion grounded in dual-aspect monism towards a phenomenology of semi-discarnate persons that, in turn, lays the groundwork for an ORT circumscribed thanatology and daemonology.

  • Abstract

    Panentheism is an unsettling and controversial notion in modern Orthodox Christianity. Some Orthodox explicitly identify themselves as panentheists, while others reject panentheism as incompatible with Orthodox tradition. Sergius Bulgakov presents his theology of Divine Wisdom (sophiology) as panentheist, distinguishing it from pantheism. Other modern Orthodox theologians identify themselves as panentheists (Kallistos Ware, Andrew Louth and Alexei Nesteruk ). Orthodox critics of panentheism include Georges Florovsky and Nicolas Lossky. Whereas critics see panentheism as a sub-species of pantheism (hence unacceptable), Bulgakov and other Orthodox regard it as a sub-species of theism (hence acceptable). The issue revolves around divergent theologies of creation and how God relates to creation. Earlier, the issue was entwined in the controversy over Bulgakov’s theology of Divine Wisdom. By the 21st century, the focus is on looking for compatibilities in patristic theology, especially the logoi of things in Maximus the Confessor and the divine energies in Gregory Palamas. The transition in Orthodox thought from a polemical stance regarding panentheism to an irenic one is promising.

  • Abstract

    How does the Divine relate to and care for all of creation? According to Christian, Scottish theologian, Ruth Page’s doctrine of pansyntheism, the Divine design for creation is capacious enough to allow creation to choose and actualize many possibilities. Yet, creation is not abandoned in this process. God actively abides with and stays in relationship with God’s creation – with everyone & everything, painting a compelling image of what I am terming radical Immanuel. The distinction between the Divine and the created is maintained, but God is intimately connected with the web of God’s creation. Created can experience union with the Divine, glimpse Uncreated, and connect with Creator. In the Hindu Śakta Bhakti sampradāya, the Goddess is understood to be both the material and efficient cause of creation. Mahādevī is what Śakta theologian Rita D. Sherma terms organically immanent & radically present in creation. Creation is a manifestation of Her. Creation is held within the womb of the Goddess; therefore, She is in creation, but She is also fully transcendent and exceeds creation. Let us explore how these two understandings of the Divine impact and inform one another.