Department ofReligious Studies


Faculty Updates June 2016

David DeCosse presented a paper on the equality of freedom at an April conference at Fordham University called "Building Good Economies: Celebrating Modern Catholic Social Teaching at 125." The paper is part of a book project. He is also at work with Tom Nairn, Senior Director - Ethics of the Catholic Health Association, editing essays on conscience and Catholic health care for a book to published next year by Orbis. DeCosse will be spending the fall of 2016 teaching at Sophia University, the Jesuit university in Tokyo.


Bill Dohar gave two presentations on Ignatian pedagogy to the current SCU faculty cohort in the Course Redesign Seminar early in Spring Quarter.  The seminar serves as a training platform for undergraduate online course delivery.  Bill served as a peer reviewer for an article on anti-Semitism in the 14th Century in a forthcoming issue of Speculum, the journal of the Medieval Academy of America.  He also served as an examiner in late April for a master's thesis in historical theology written by a student at the Jesuit School of Theology - SCU.


Elizabeth Drescher's latest book, Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America's Nones, which explores the spiritual practices of people who do not affiliate with institutional religions, was released this spring from Oxford University Press. Dr. Drescher will be sharing insights from the book over the summer and fall at the Philadelphia Theological Institute, Fordham University, and The BTS Center. She has also become a regular blogger at Huffington Post Religion, where she focuses on the spiritualities of ordinary people in everyday life and their impact on changing understandings of "religion," "spirituality" and "the secular." She begins research this summer on a new book on Christian cosmopolitanism. In addition, The BTS Center's Bearings blog, which was developed and is co-edited by Elizabeth Drescher, received three national awards for editorial excellence this year. The Religion Communicators Association honored the blog for a series on race and religion as well as for general editorial excellence in the coverage of contemporary religion. And, the Episcopal Communicators honored a post edited by Dr. Drescher with an award for excellence in religious reflection. The Bearings blog explores the opportunities and challenges of 21st century ministry in a changing religious landscape. Dr. Drescher serves The BTS Center as a consulting scholar.


David Gray presented a paper entitled “Laughing in the Face of Fear: Horror and Terror in the Yoginītantras” at the 1st Zurich International Conference on Indian Literature and Philosophy at the University of Zurich, in Switzerland in February 2016. In March a book he co-edited with Ryan Overbey,  Tantric Traditions in Transmission and Translation, was published by Oxford University Press.


Jean Molesky-Poz, on March 30th, presented a workshop, “Where We Dwell in Common,”  to the staff at San Damiano Retreat Center in Danville, in both English and in Spanish.  She drew parallels between the original monastery of St. Clare in Assisi, called San Damiano,  where people have visited for peace and healing for over 800 years and the Franciscan retreat center in the Contra Costa County.  Each site has become a place to restore the Church, the House of God, and the ecology of the Earth.  Then on May 7th, the vigil of Mother’s Day, she led an evening engaging the lives of St. Clare and her mother, entitled  “Did Ortulana Tell her Oldest Daughter the Courage Women Call On?” for mothers and daughters, again at San Damiano.   Books have been written about the friendship of St. Clare and St. Francis, but this evening examined the mutual influence between mother and daughter of the noble Offreduccio household, each a woman of vision, courage and persistence among her contemporaries.


Thao Nguyen, S.J. has had two articles accepted for publication this year. His first article, “Toward a Dialogical Church: Asian Bishops and Asian Women's Vision,” was accepted by the Theology Today journal. His second article, “Inculturation for Mission: The Transformation of French Notre-Dame des Victoires into Our Lady of La Vang in Vietnam 1998,” has been recently accepted for publication by  the Missiology: An International Review, one of the top-tier  journals in Mission Studies.


Frederick J. Parrella presented a lecture, “Tillich, Existential and Pathological Anxiety, and Self-Affirmation,” in Prof. Jerrold Shapiro’s course, CPSY 288, Existential Psychotherapy, Santa Clara University, 14 April 2016. He also presented two two–hour presentations, “Before and After the Second Vatican Council,” for the Institute for Leadership in Ministry, Diocese of San Jose, California, 13 and 20 April 2016. He serves as an ex officio member of the Editorial Board for Complete Works of Paul Tillich in English to be published in 20 volumes by Walter de Gruyter, Berlin.


Ana Maria Pineda, R.S.M.s new book, Romero and Grande: Companions on the Journey (Religious Studies Department), just published  by Lectio Publishing on May 23, 2016 represents a significant accomplishment that caps years of research and writing. The book was published on the first anniversary of the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero honoring him and Jesuit Rutilio Grande. On May 7, 2016 Pineda gave a presentation on "Our Lady of Guadalupe: When God Came Close" at Dominican Center for Education and Spirituality.  On May 21, Pineda gave a talk on "Catechesis and the Jubilee Year of Mercy" at the annual San Jose Diocesan Catechetical Banquet.


Philip Boo Riley presented a paper to the Religion and Social Sciences section of the AAR/Western Region meeting in April at the University of Arizona: “Homeless Spirituality on the Margins of Silicon Valley: Perspectives from the Jungle.”  In addition to interactions with homeless individuals through large government-funded  service providers (e.g. HomeFirst, which runs the largest overnight shelter in Santa Clara County) and large faith-based ministries in the area (e.g. CityTeam), the research outlined in this paper draws from participation in small grassroots faith communities (Believers in Christ and Christian Homeless Alliance Ministry) whose membership is comprised mainly of homeless people, most of whom had lived in the large encampment that was closed down in December 2014, The Jungle.


Sarah E. Robinson-Bertoni joined the Religious Studies faculty in January 2016, teaching Comparative Religion and Environmentalism, as well as Buddhism in America.  She served as conference manager for the American Academy of Religion, Western Region for the April 1-3, 2016 meeting in Tucson, Arizona.  There, she presented original research, entitled “Rising Religious Response to Climate Change: Comparing Aspects of the Papal Encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ with the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change.”  As Women’s Caucus Liaison to the Board of the AAR Western Region, she was lead organizer for a dinner and panel on April 1, entitled “Grounding the Future of Religious Studies at the Regional and National Level.”  She was invited to lecture on March 7 at California State University, Los Angeles, on “Ecofeminisms in Context,” as part of a lecture series celebrating Women’s History Month. She recently submitted a dialogue chapter for publication in an upcoming volume, Flourishing: Comparative Religious Environmental Ethics, by Oxford University Press.


Sally Vance-Trembath was asked to comment on Pope Francis' visit to Mexico by the LA Times and by Aljazeera TV. Mitchell Landsberg at the Los Angeles wrote a long article for which Prof. Vance-Trembath provided background as well as this quotation: “Pope Francis is a new kind of pope,” she said. “Or, let me put it another way: He’s a return to an earlier way of being pope from the ancient church. He’s not a monarch, he’s not the CEO, he’s not the head of the church in the way that Benedict and John Paul II were. He’s the bishop of Rome, first and foremost.” During the same week, Prof. VT was called by Aljazeera from Qatar to talk about Pope Francis visit with Russia Patriarch Krill.  The suggestion was made that the  reason the Patriarch agreed to meet with Pope Francis given the long-standing alienation between the Roman and the Russian churches, was primarily political.  Placed in the context of rather aggressive policies of Vladimir Putin, it could appear that the Patriarch was using his position to support those polices. In  Prof. VT's response to that suggestion on television from San Francisco she called the suggestion "cynical." Her assessment of the meeting is that two important spiritual leaders were meeting to draw their own communities closer and to express value and respect for each' community. That follows Pope Francis' pattern and style.


RS Dept. Giants Game

A group of 40 RS faculty, staff and friends attended the 17th annual trip to AT&T Park to see the SF Giants play against the Chicago Cubs. Although the score was not very good (for Giants fans), everyone enjoyed having an evening out together.  We had our usual RS Department participants, but also had a nice variety of other College of Arts & Sciences friends from Math/Computer Sciences,  Environmental Studies/Sciences, Public Health,  and the Dean’s Office.


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