Religion Department

New Religion Faculty

Thirty-six scholars - including two new Religion Department faculty - joined the Dartmouth faculty in 2016. Read more about Professors Zahra Ayubi, whose research is on women and gender in prescriptive discourses and ethical thought in both pre-modern and modern Islam and also teaches in the Women and Sexuality Studies Program, and Devin Singh, who studies how the framework of religion is helpful in understanding the influence of money in economy and society, in Dartmouth Now.

Commencement Weekend Reception

To honor the graduating majors and minors of the Department of Religion, the faculty are holding a commencement reception on Saturday, June 11, 2016, from 4:30-6:30pm, in 209 and 210 Thornton Hall. The Department's annual prizes are also given out at this event. All graduating majors, modified majors, and minors and their families are welcome to attend.

The Panama Papers and the Ritual of Confession

In his op-ed article in Religion Now, Professor Devin Singh notes that "the Panama Papers caught some of the most powerful people on the globe in the act of self-dealing. Now the public wants the guilty to come clean, step into the light, and confess their financial misdeeds." But, Singh observes, "While such confession might be an important public ritual, there are reasons to believe that confession won't make the sins disappear and they'll likely happen again."

The Paradoxes of Ted Cruz

By almost any reckoning, argues Prof. Randall Balmer in his April 19, 2016, article in Religion & Politics, Ted Cruz's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination presents voters with several paradoxes. But the paradox that most intrigues Prof. Balmer is Cruz's ties to evangelicalism: "Of all the paradoxes that surround Ted Cruz, [his] flouting of the teachings of Jesus may be his defining paradox. The man who, more than any other candidate this year, has staked his claim to evangelical piety nevertheless ignores the teachings of the man [Jesus] he claims to emulate."

Daoist Ritual and Practice

Daoist Ritual and Practice
An Exhibit in Baker-Berry Library, Main Street
Exhibit dates: April 5 – June 24

SAVE the Date!
RECEPTION: Thursday, May 5, from 4pm-6pm, Baker-Berry Library, Main Street
Free & Open to All.
You’re invited to the reception for an exhibition exploring religious interactions in traditional and modern China. Exploring specific moments from the rich tapestry of religious culture in China, the exhibit shows different ways for interacting with the divine, attaining transcendence, and establishing community. This variety of ideas and practices hint at the complex interactions between traditions and communities in China, and beyond, and show the richness of religious life and experience, limited only by the human imagination.
Exhibition curated by Gil Raz, with the assistance of Dennis Grady, Nienlin Xie, Xiaofan Zhang, and Laura Barrett. Cosponsored by the Religion Department, Dean of Faculty Office, and Baker-Berry Library.

Gender Gap: Why Are Women More Religious?

Religion professors Zahra Ayubi and Randall Balmer were guests on New Hampshire Public Radio's "Exchange" program commenting on a new study by the Pew Memorial Trust that finds that while Americans overall tend to be more religious compared to people in other developed countries, the commitment is especially high among U.S. women, whether it's attending worship services or engaging in daily prayer.

Alumni Stories: L. Leann Kanda '98

I began taking religion courses at Dartmouth as a contrast to my studies as a Biology major. As I approached my senior year, I discovered that I’d taken so many of the religion courses just out of interest that I was only missing the senior seminars to take the major, so in the end I double-majored in Biology and Religion. Not only were the topics so different, but I discovered that scholars across the disciplines had very different ways of seeing the world. It was eye-opening to find out that not everyone processed the same evidence in the same way I did. It impacted my personal development profoundly, and continues to benefit me professionally. I am now a biology professor, and the lessons I’ve learned from my religion courses have found their way into my classrooms, especially in my course Evolution of Evolution, which includes how scientific and religious thought have interacted over time. A larger cultural awareness of religious history has also woven into my other biology courses (for example, a direct parallel can be made between the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the processes governing density-dependent population growth.

Alumni Stories: John Helmiere '05

It was 9/11/2001, and I had just flown into Manchester for my freshman DOC trip. The pilot on my flight from Tampa to Manchester had told us we could look out our windows and see smoke rising because a plane had just accidentally flown into one of the World Trade Center buildings. Over the next four years as a Religion major, while the misuse and misunderstanding of religion catalyze war and fuel empire-building, my studies enabled me to gain a critical grasp of religion as an immensely complex and phenomenally influential force in the world. My Dartmouth education helped free me from certain assumptions about my own religious tradition, which resulted in a personal experience of interior spiritual revolution. I am now an ordained minister (affiliated with the United Methodist Church) and founded a church-cum-social-change incubator that practices mystical Christian spirituality and is dedicated to subversive political activism in solidarity with the oppressed and disinherited in our neighborhood.

Alumni Stories: William O. Brant '91

When I enrolled at Dartmouth, I was one of many people who thought of religion as just "something you do" rather than as a field of study. After my first course in comparative religion, I was pretty hooked and spent the rest of my Dartmouth career studying under Professors Fred Berthold and Hans Penner, including a great trip to Edinburgh. I went on to get my Masters in Comparative Religion at the University of Washington. I eventually went on to medical school and my current career as a professor of surgery and have come to the conclusion that, of any field I could have studied to prepare me for my job, religion was one of the best. My classmates in medical school consisted of many biochemistry majors, but the ability to really think about people in terms of how they approach their lives and pathology turns out to be far more important than much of the science that we all studied. This is best derived from a truly liberal arts background. I live in a religiously conservative community, and my patients often comment on how much they appreciate me knowing what makes them "tick" from a religious perspective.