Religion Department

"Where Are All The Women In Jewish Studies?"

"Where Are All The Women In Jewish Studies?" ask Susannah Heschel (Chair of Dartmouth's Jewish Studies Program as well as Professor of Religion here) and Sarah Imhoff (Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and of Religious Studies at Indiana University) in their July 3, 2018, Forward article by that title, which explores gender bias in academia, publishing, professional organizations, and foundations in the field and urges leaders in the field to consider the implications: "By not including women scholars, you are deliberately distorting the state of the field, narrowing the range of knowledge and interpretation, and excluding important areas of research and insight. To include women means not simply the presence of female bodies, but of great minds, important experiences and points of view that enhance the quality of scholarship. The answer: We are here. Listen to us."

Randall Balmer on the religious right's concern about family values

Randall Balmer observed, in Elizabeth Dias' 6-20-18 New York Times article, "Evangelical Leaders Lament Border Separations, but Stand Behind Trump," that "The persistence of evangelical support for Trump, both his personal behavior and now his immigrations policies, finally lays to rest the illusion that the religious right was ever concerned about 'family values.'" (Read, too, Professor Balmer's opinion piece on the subject in the 6-24-18 Valley News, "Jeff Sessions and the Ruse of Selective Liberalism." Login may be required.)

New Summer Term Course: Shī'ī Islam

Andrew Newman '74, the Religion Department's Visiting Edinburgh Professor this Summer Term, will be teaching a new course this Summer Term, Rel. 28.05 (10A), Shī'ī Islam. The course will explore the history, doctrines, and practices of Shī'ī Islam, focusing on the Twelver Shī'ī  faith in particular. The Twelvers are the largest of today's three Shī'ī  faiths and comprise the majority of modern Iran's population but also majorities in a number of Arab countries, and substantial minorities in others such as in India and Pakistan. Translated materials will be offered to allow students direct access to key Shī'ī  writings composed over the centuries. The issue of sectarianism conflict in Sunnī-Shī'ī history will be one of the course's subthemes. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV; WCult: NW.

New Fall Term Religion Course: Religion & Technology

This Fall Term, 2018, Jeremy Sabella, who has taught at Boston College and Yale Divinity School and currently teaches at Kalamazoo College, and taught Rel. 11.01, “God & Money,” and Rel. 74.14, “Religion and Social Struggle in the Americas,” here this past Winter Term, will be back to teach Rel. 1.01 and a new Religion course:

Christian Theology's Economy of Conquest

In an article for the Stanford University Press blog, Assistant Professor of Religion Devin Singh explores Martin Luther King Jr.'s "challenge to the American church's capitalist God of war" and observes that, "Ensconced in the theologies, liturgies, and paeans of praise inherited by Christian communities over the centuries was a portrait of God who was, among many things, a conquering economist and savvy resource manager." Singh's new book, Divine Currency: The Theological Power of Money in the West (Stanford Univ. Pr.) was just published.

Professor Ayubi awarded New Directions in Humanities Scholarship

Assistant Professor of Religion Zahra Ayubi has just been awarded a New Directions in Humanities Scholarship, a new program of the Office of the Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities with funding from the Office of the President that encourages faculty in the arts and humanities to pursue projects outside their primary fields of expertise. Professor Ayubi will be studying contemporary gender ethics in Muslim communities and how ontological understandings of women's bodies affect medical decision-making in a traditionally male-oriented religious context. “Bioethics is not my field," she says, "yet I find that the precarious situation of patients in tough medical circumstances that require consideration of religion and bioethics is telling of deep underlying philosophical ideas—in Muslim traditions specifically—about the nature of women’s humanity.” Read more about the grant in Dartmouth News.

Passover Traditions

In her letter to the editor in the April 1, 2018 New York Times, Professor Susannah Heschel comments on Times columnist Nicholas Kristof's recent article about "the changes in women's roles in our religions and his awarenes that the issue is not merely equality of women, but also radical transformations of our religious practices and theological understandings." She also clarifies the custom she originated - out of solidarity with gay and lesbian Jews (not out of support for women in the pulpit, as Kristof suggests) - of placing an orange on the Seder plate. "Women are on the bimah," she observes, but "there is much more we still need to accomplish."

"Unfortunate Destiny: Animals in the Indian Buddhist Imagination"

Professor Reiko Ohnuma‘s Unfortunate Destiny: Animals in the Indian Buddhist Imagination (Oxford University Press, 2017) is "a masterful treatment of animals in Indian Buddhist literature," comments Natasha Heller, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, in her podcast interview with Professor Ohuma in New Books Network. "Although they are lower than humans in the paths of rebirth, stories about animals show them as virtuous and generous—and often the victim of human failings. In the life stories of the Buddha, animals serve as 'doubles,' thereby adding nuance and complexity to various episodes in the Buddha’s life.

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