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Department ofReligious Studies


Faculty Updates Fall 2018

James Bennett

James Bennett

James Bennett has been selected as one of two mentors for the 2019-2020 cohort of Young Scholars in American Religion Seminar. Hosted by the Center for the Study of Religion & American Culture at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, the Young Scholars program is now in its third decade as the foremost mentoring program for junior faculty working in the field of American religion. The seminars, devoted to the enhancement of teaching and research, will be offered in Indianapolis. The program's sessions aim to develop ideas and methods of teaching in a supportive workshop environment, stimulate scholarly research and writing, and create a community of scholars that will continue into the future. Jim will be working with Laura Levitt, Professor of Religion, Jewish Studies, and Gender at Temple University. Both Laura and Jim were themselves participants in the Young Scholars program. The cohort of scholars will be selected in late 2018 and will begin meeting in spring 2019.

David DeCosse

Adjunct Associate Professor David DeCosse in October published an essay on the America magazine website called, "It's time for the U.S. bishops to revise their Catholic voting guide."

DeCosse's essay was a shorter version of his plenary address at the June 2018 meeting of the Catholic Theological Society of America. A version of address will also be appearing in a forthcoming book, Voting and Holiness, to be published by Paulist Press and edited by Nicholas Cafardi. David also recently authored short essay called "California Wildfires, Ethics, and the Biblical" posted last week to the Ethics Center website.

Bill Dohar

This past fall, Bill Dohar's review of the book The Jesuits and Italian Universities, 1548-1773 by Paul Grendler (Toronto, 2017), was published in The Journal of Christian Higher Education. He also presented a two-evening survey of Catholic Church History for the Institute of Leadership in Ministry, San Jose Diocese in late October and early November.

Click2Save REBOOT: The Digital Ministry Bible book cover

Elizabeth Drescher

Earlier in the year, Elizabeth Drescher and co-author Keith Anderson released Click2Save REBOOT: The Digital Ministry Bible (Church Publishing, 2018). The book is a revised and expanded second edition of 2012 volume that provides insight on the increasing sophistication and importance of mobile technology and guides readers through the changes and additions to social media platforms that shape how we communicate and engage with others.

Professor Drescher has also been collaborating with St. Mary’s Press on a series of conversations with a range of Catholic communities on disaffiliation among young adult Catholics, drawing on her research in Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones (Oxford University Press, 2016) and a her current research on religious cosmopolitanism—an approach to religious and nonreligious engagement that moves beyond pluralism and interreligious dialogue to transformative collaboration. Over the summer, she presented to leaders of Catholic men’s religious orders; in September, she presented to the faculty and staff of Archbishop Mitty High School; and in November she presented at the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry. In the spring, Professor Drescher will also present at the joint conference of the Association for College and University Religious Affairs and the National Association of College and University Chaplains.

David Gray

David Gray spent a week in July 2018 working closely with his editor making final revisions to his latest book project, a translation and study of a Tibetan tantric commentary titled Illumination of the Hidden Meaning: Yogic Vows, Conduct, and Ritual Praxis(sbas don kun gsal) Part II: Chapters 25–51 By Tsong Khapa Losang Drakpa, and he reviewed the proofs in October of this year. The volume will be published in the near future by the American Institute of Buddhist Studies and Wisdom Publications. He has also been making steady progress on the translation of two additional Buddhist works, the Abhidhānottara Tantra and the Ḍākārṇava Tantra.

Corinna Guerrero and Jonathan Homrighhausen

Corinna Guerrero

Corinna Guerrero has recently published her article "Rape-Atrocity in Judges", in the Judges, Wisdom Commentary Series, Barbara E. Reid, OP, General Editor (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2018), 7-8. While at the 2018 American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting in Denver, Co., she visited the Liturgical Press book exhibit, and ran into our recent alumnus Jonathan Homrighausen. They both had their work in print this year on display at the Liturgical Press booth, so they celebrated each other with a photo. They are proud to be Broncos in print and look forward to future similar photos in the years to come.

Teresia Hinga

Teresia Hinga

Teresia Hinga, in her capacity as a designated forum writer for the Catholic Ethics in the World Church Project, submitted an article for the November 2018 issue of their newsletter, The First, entitled: “Standing In Healing Solidarity with Lumo Sinai (and thousands like her): Acknowledging One Man that Does.”

She also received and gratefully accepted an invitation by The Parliament of World Religions Task Force to participate in the recently concluded Parliament of World Religions in Toronto Canada, 1-7th November 208. She was invited to be one of the 3 (Including Heather Eaton of St Paul’s University and Chris Peters, President of the 7th Generation for Indigenous Peoples). The globally known ecofeminist Vandana Shiva gave a keynote speech on November 4th titled: “Earth Democracy a Paradigm for Our Futures.” II gave a response from an African Perspective.

During the Summer, I continued to do fieldwork in Kenya on the theme “Nexus between food security and energy poverty.” I explored the merits of biogas as a renewable and affordable energy source for peasant farmers. This is part of my applied ethical study of the ethical challenge of food insecurity and the imperative of food sovereignty.


Akiba Lerner

Akiba Lerner

Religious violence and racial hatred are not new phenomena in America. Unfortunately, recent events may be foreboding of an increase of disturbing threats to our democratic culture. In the wake of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and the dramatic rise in Anti-Semitic incidents nationwide (as reported by the FBI and other watch groups), SCU’s “Illuminate” asked to interview Akiba Lerner regarding his reaction to these disturbing trends.

Gary Macy

Gary Macy published an article, “Mediterranean Meals to Go: Early Encounters with Nonvinous Cultures,” Worship 92 (2018): 12-27 and the French edition of my co-authored book on women deacons came out this Fall, Des femmes diacres: Hier, aujord’hi, demain (Novalis, Cerf, 2018).


The Bible and Migration book cover

Roberto Mata

This fall quarter Roberto Mata made significant progress in his research, teaching, and service. His article "Border Crossing into the New Jerusalem: The Eschatological Migration of God’s People" was recently published in a volume of Latinxs, tn the Bible and Migration. He also published a peer review essay titled “Patrolling the New Jerusalem” in Perspectives: Journal of the Hispanic Theological Initiative. In addition, Dr. Mata has submitted two articles for peer-reviewed journals and is already engaged in conversations with Mercer University Press about his book project.

He also had the opportunity to deliver three presentations at the Society for Biblical Literature's annual meeting in November. The first presentation, “And I Saw Googleville Descend from Heaven: Reading Revelation 21 in Silicon Valley," was delivered at the Contextual Interpretation Unit and in conjunction with the Latinx and Latin American Biblical Interpretation Unit. At the invitation of Dr. Kitty Murphy, Roberto delivered another presentation, “Those Who Call Themselves Jews: Negotiating Ethnicity in the Messages to the Seven Assemblies of Revelation," at the Jesus Traditions, Gospels, and Negotiating the Roman Imperial World unit. Dr. Mata also gave a third presentation on Ethnic Minority Faculty and Curricular Development at the Politics and Pedagogy Unit, which the SBL student advisory board sponsors.

Concerning teaching, Dr. Mata’s course Racializing Jesus (SCTR 48) continues to get traction and has become a course of choice among first and second-year students. In view of the topic and the contextual nature of this course, the Jesuit School of Theology has tapped Roberto to teach a graduate version of SCTR 48 for their Spring Semester 2019. Considering his research interests and the current immigration crisis, Roberto is also developing a new course on Migration and the Bible. Seeking to polish his skills as a teacher, Dr. Mata is also part of the first SCU cohort to join the Institute for Teaching Excellence, which the Association of College Educators sponsors. Upon successful completion of this training, Roberto will earn a nationally recognized teaching certificate along with various digital badges on teaching related subjects--from planning an effective class session to embracing diversity in the classroom. This fall Dr. Mata also served as the department's representative at the Faculty Senate and is also a member of the Ignatian Faculty Forum. He is also engaged in various student related activities on campus. Along with his colleague Lynn Jencks, he contributed to a panel on sexuality and religion.

Michelle Mueller

Michelle Mueller received a contract with Routledge Press to produce a research monograph. The book is Consensual Non-Monogamy, New, Religions, and Reality Television: Polyamory and Polygamy in Popular Culture. The projected publication date is 2021. She also has an article in press for an upcoming Nova Religio issue. The article is "Escaping the Perils of Sensationalist Television Reduction: A&E Networks’ Escaping Polygamy as a Reality TV Atrocity Tale."

Thao Nguyen, S.J.

Last June, Thao Nguyen, S.J. presented an interesting paper "Interfaith Marriage: Deepest Commitment to Inter-religious Dialogue" at the American Society of Missiology at Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame. Thao also had two articles published this Fall: “A Vibrant Church: Catholicism in Vietnam” in Catholic Identity in Context: Vision and Formation for The Common Good, Erin Brigham, ed. (University of San Francisco Press, 2018), and "The Vision of Asian Women for Interreligious Dialogue" in Mission Studies: Journal of The International Association for Mission Studies, 35 (2018).

Frederick Parrella

Frederick Parrella has agreed to serve two more years as Secretary-Treasurer of the North American Paul Tillich Society, and continue as editor of the quarterly Bulletin for volumes 45 and 46.

The Crucifix on Mecca's Front Porch: A Christian's Companion for the Study of Islam

David Pinault

Ignatius Press (San Francisco) has published David Pinault's new book. Its title is The Crucifix on Mecca's Front Porch: A Christian's Companion for the Study of Islam.

David Pleins

David Pleins recently participated in an SBL think tank session on Bible and Religion in Undergraduate teaching held at Wake Forest University. The think tank is the first in a series of SBL efforts seeking to tackle the crisis in the Humanities head-on. The gathering of ten academics from across the country worked to develop guidelines and principles that might help biblical and religion scholars make a case for their fields in the face of declining undergraduate enrollments and program cuts. In admittedly difficult times for the Humanities, this group is hoping to spark continued discussion around these topics at future annual national SBL meetings.

Sally Vance-Trembath

Sally Vance-Trembath

In late August, Dean Tahmassebi worked with other SCU Deans to find a way to address the recent news from Pennsylvania about investigations of predatory priests. Working with Tom Plante from Psychology and David DeCosse from Religious Studies and the Markkula Center to form a panel to provide critical discourse about this “catastrophe” in the institutional Catholic Church. Sally Vance-Trembath was invited because of her training in Ecclesiology as well as her experience working with the lay community to respond to this crisis. Dean O’Brien, S.J. from the Jesuit School of Theology and Fr. Brendan McGuire of the Diocese of San Jose were also on the panel. An article was written about their panel on National Catholic Reporter’s website. 

Sally Vance-Trembath was one of four presenters at the Faculty Collaborative conversation about the Summer “Teaching Naked: with Jose Bowen”. Presenters were asked to share how they have implemented some of the suggested teaching practices.

Vance-Trembath is also working with a group of Catholic philanthropists who are drafting “best practices” for all Catholic priests. Her training as an ecclesiologist provides an important point of cooperation with members of the lay Catholic community who are skilled in leadership and management; both areas of skill are essential as the institutional Church attempts to finally address the catastrophic moral crisis.