Religion Department

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.

Vaughn Booker joins Religion faculty

Among the 35 new teacher-scholars who joined the Dartmouth faculty in 2017-2018 is Assistant Professor of Religion and of African and African American Studies Vaughn Booker '07 (Religion), who went on to receive his M. Div. from Harvard and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton. In an article in Dartmouth News, Booker comments, "I am a scholar of religion, and my research focuses on African American religious history, primarily in the 20th-century United States. My current research project examines jazz musicians whose expressions of religious belief and representations of racial identity will greatly enhance our understandings of African American religious practices. Future projects will explore cultural practices of religious irreverence and interracial conversion efforts in African American life." This Winter Term (2018), he taught Rel. 61, "Religion and the Civil Rights Movement" (identical to AAAS 22), and next Fall Term he will be teaching Rel.

New visiting professor: Kijan Bloomfield

Kijan Bloomfield is a doctoral candidate in the Religion, Ethics, and Politics subfield at Princeton. Her reearch areas include African American religious thought, religion in the African Diaspora, global pentecostalism, and Caribbean philosophy. Her Ph.D. dissertion is an interdisciplinary project that explores the role of religious ethics in the history of social change in Jamaica from the late 19th century to the present. She is here at Dartmouth this Spring Term to teach Religion 19.25, Religions of the Caribbean (taught at the 11 hour), and Religion 19.26, Global Pentecostalism (10A). Both courses are open to all students. (Course syllabi may be viewed here.)

Martin Luther King, Jr., on "The False God of Nationalism"

In his essay "The False God of Nationalism: Americans Face a New Nationalism," in the New School of Social Research's Public Seminar, Assistant Professor of Religion and African & African-American Studies explores Martin Luther King, Jr.'s concern that he lived in an age where people had "turned away from the eternal God of the universe, and decided to worship at the shrine of the god of nationalism" and finds a similarity  with the "new nationalism that is likely to inhabit the government for at least four years." "The new nationalism," Booker observes, "shows no evidence of concern to thwart what King identified as the triple evils of poverty, militarism, and racism. Rather, it appears ready to benefit from all three."

New course: Religion & Social Struggle in the Americas

This Winter Term, Professor Jeremy Sabella will be teaching a new Religion course, Rel. 74.14, "Religion & Social Struggle in the Americas." This course examines twentieth and twenty-first century social struggles through a religious lens. Karl Marx described religion as the "opiate of the masses," but in practice, religion has been a resource for resistance as well as a mechanism of control. Drawing on case studies from the U.S. and Latin America. the course analyzes how both sides of a conflict understand and deploy religious concepts. How do those in power approach religion? How does this differ from how those outside power structures mobilize it? How do uses of religion evolve to accommodate different cultural contexts and new political circumstances? These are some of the questions the course will consider in preparation for analyzing contemporary movements such as Standing Rock and Black Lives Matter. Offered at the 2A Hour, and open to all classes.

Randall Balmer on evangelical Christianity's close ties to conservative politics

In an article on the Roy Moore scandal in the Salt Lake City, Utah, Deseret News, Religion Department chair Randall Balmer observes that "Evangelical Christianity's close ties to conservative politics are driving people away from the flock. People are looking for other labels to identify themselves with because they find the term 'evangelical' so fraught and associated with things they don't embrace."

"Money--Flat, Broad, and Deep"

Assistant Professor of Religion Devin Singh's article, "Money--Flat, Broad, and Deep," has been published in The Immanent Frame: Secularism, Religion, and the Public Sphere, which publishes interdisciplinary perspectives on religion, secularism, and the public sphere. Singh is currently on leave for the '17-'18 academic year, supported by a First Book Grant from the Louisville Institute, and will be a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School's Center for the Study of World Religions.

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