Department ofReligious Studies

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Faculty Updates Fall 2016

Last summer David DeCosse finished editing a book called Conscience and Catholic Health Care: From Clinical Contexts to Government Mandates, due to come out from Orbis Books in Spring 2017 (the book was co- edited with Father Tom Nairn, O.F.M., the ethics director of the Catholic Health Association of the United States). The book includes essays by RS Senior Lecturer Margaret McLean; Jesuit School of Theology Professor Lisa Fullam; and Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries Faculty Gerald Coleman, among others. The book won third place in the Faithful Citizenship/Religious Freedom category of the Catholic Press Association 2016 Book Awards. The book was distinctive in that it approached the theology of conscience within Catholicism in a contextual fashion, with essays that examined theological issues of conscience in places ranging from India to African American neighborhoods in the United States. DeCosse is presently editing a second volume that focuses on the theme of conscience and Catholic health care and that will include essays by Fullam and RS faculty member Margaret McLean, among others. That book project, expected out in 2016, is a joint effort with the Catholic Health Association of the United States. The work on conscience has been supported by a generous gift from Michael and Phyllis Shea.

David also taught a summer course on Amoris Laetitia, the document on the family from Pope Francis, at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Santa Cruz.

Elizabeth Drescher published an article in America Magazine (Vol. 215 No. 10) titled “A Virtual Faith: Looking at the World Through Pokémon Go.” She discusses the new augmented reality game and its impact on spirituality in the real world.

Elizabeth Drescher has also published a short article on how the Jesuit background of Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine might boost the appeal of the Clinton campaign to both Nones--the religiously unaffiliated--and moderate to progressive Christians weary of being painted with a conservative, evangelical brush. The article appeared on RNS at the start of the Democratic convention.

Margaret McLean, RS Senior Lecturer, wrote an Op-Ed for The Mercury News on palliative care in California end of life options.

During this Presidential election season, James Bennett has given several lectures on the changing role of religion in Presidential politics to church communities throughout the Bay Area, including in Livermore, Oakland, and Sunnyvale. While the constantly changing nature of the race meant each lecture was different, the overall argument focused on the declining significance of candidates' religious affiliation and, among the electorate, on the impact of the significant increase among the "nones" in conjunction with the declining size of Christian denominations. He was also interviewed by German Public Radio (Deutschland Radio Kultur) for a special program on Fundamentalism and Politics in the United States.

Paul Crowley, S.J. was interviewed by America Magazine about adapting the Spirit of St. Ignatius Loyola for non-Catholics. The full interview can be found online.

Sally Vance-Trembath continues her streak of publishing articles and op- eds. Her latest contribution is an article on the Huffington Post; "At Least One Direct Line from Catholic Bishops to Mr. Trump." Her previous Huffington Post contributions include:

An op-ed written by Sally, "Michelle and Hillary: A tale of two Christians," was published by the Religion News Service.

Teresia Hinga attended a conference Religion Ecology and our Planetary Future at Harvard Divinity School Center for the Study of World Religion. Organized by Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim (Yale University) as well as director of the Center Prof. Francis X. Clooney, SJ. The conference was a 20th anniversary of the first religion and ecology conference held there in 1996, which she had also attended. In her opening remarks, Tucker observed that religion and ecology as a sub- discipline in religious studies had come of age and that there were at least 6 job openings in various universities including Santa Clara University asking for scholars to research and teach on the subject. For this conference, Hinga developed a paper “Seeking Better Traction on the (Slippery Road) to Sustainability: Re-Presenting the Case for Rekindling and Reclaiming the Moral Heartbeat of Indigenous African Spirituality.”

“Teaching Corner” by Janet Giddings:

This fall quarter I was asked to teach Human Trafficking and Christian Ethics. This course, created and designed by Karen Peterson-Iyer, came out of the STOP-HT study group, which came together 3 years ago with original members Teresia Hinga, Karen, Joe Morris, and me. What I did in designing the course is to use Study, Learn, and Teach, as a rubric. This meant that we would study together, learn from each other and our respective responses to data, guest speakers, films, and texts from various perspectives. It was the “teach” that has been the experiential unit of the course that for all of us, has been the positive learning-into-action outcome. Studying human trafficking is challenging and difficult at times. Frustration over “what can I do to help?” is always lurking. The Teach Unit was the answer to some of this frustration. Teams of 5 students each had to teach a group of at least 20 people in the broader campus or off- campus community. Groups could team-up and teach 40, or remain singular and teach 20. One group taught a 30+ audience. The remaining 4 groups teamed up to teach 40- 50-person audiences. To watch and listen to students teach people outside the classroom is a difference experience than in- class presentations. 

The experience was positive. It was teaching groups who mostly knew little or nothing about sex, debt, and labor trafficking. Students were sensitive to disseminating information that could trigger responses in audience members; they took care in offering enough information while not overwhelming; they answered audience questions with humble authority, and most importantly they felt they did something to help in the fight against human trafficking by educating others. Audiences were glued to every word, every slide, and asked meaningful and caring questions. This was one of the most outstanding and positive outcomes in teaching a course and I am so proud of our students.

Sarah Robinson-Bertoni participated as a Coolidge Fellow for the month of July in the CrossCurrents/Auburn Research Colloquium in the City of New York, focused on the theme of "Climate Change, Food, and Human Sustainability." For this fellowship, she offered two presentations. One derived from her research project, "A Taste of Climate Adaptation: Living Soil and Sustainable Foodscapes in Buddhist, Catholic, and Muslim Words and Deeds," on July 12, 2016. She coordinated members of the fellowship group to facilitate another presentation in light of events on the national stage in July 2016, "Reflecting on Social Realities: Racialized Conflict, Armed Violence, and Pluralistic Hopes," on July 19, 2016.

In October, Robinson-Bertoni attended the 20-year celebration, retrospective, and prospective conference for the academic field of religion and ecology, "Religion, Ecology, and Our Planetary Future," at Harvard Divinity School. For the American Academy of Religion in San Antonio, she is offering a workshop to assist regional leadership development, particularly for new or developing women’s caucuses in a "Brown Bag Lunch Workshop Supporting Regional Leadership," sponsored by the American Academy of Religion-Society of Biblical Literature Women’s Caucus on November 19, 2016. She will also participate in the Board meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Western Region, as Women’s Caucus Chair.

Robinson-Bertoni’s fall 2016 course "Ways of Understanding Religion: Climate Change, Religion, and Our Common Home" received two development grants, including SCU’s Penstemon Stipend for Sustainability Across the Curriculum, supported by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The second grant honored course inclusion of science and religion curriculum, supported by SCU’s Jesuit School of Theology through the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). For this course, she invited and hosted guest speaker Wendy Johnson, a Buddhist dharma teacher, sustainable agriculture teacher-mentor, and writer on Wednesday, November 9, 2016, the day after the election. Co-sponsored with the Center for Sustainability, Johnson lectured and led walking meditation at the Forge Garden in her presentation, "Sitting at the Roots of the World: The Practice of Buddhism and Ecology." Johnson offered a biographical understanding of socially engaged Buddhism through her work in meditation, peace-building, teaching, and sustainable agriculture.

Frederick Parrella presented an all-day workshop, “Fundamental Theology: Its Nature and Application for Ministry,” for professional parish ministers of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada, November 5, 2016.

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