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Department ofReligious Studies

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Faculty Updates Spring 2021

Updates from David DeCosse, Janet Giddings, David Gray, Roberto Mata (pictured), Katia Moles, Michelle Mueller, David Pinault, and Sarah Robinson

David DeCosse

David DeCosse's manuscript, "Created Freedom Under the Sign of the Cross: A Catholic Public Theology for the United States," was accepted for publication by Wipf and Stock Publishers. The book will be released under the Cascade imprint likely in 2022.

DeCosse is also working now as the co-editor (with Kevin Baxter, former Superintendent of the Los Angeles Archdioceses Catholic Schools) to complete work on a manuscript on conscience and Catholic education that Orbis Books is slated to release likely next year. Contributors to the volume include SCU Jesuit School of Theology colleagues Julie Rubio and Lisa Fullam.


Janet Giddings

My perspective on socializing was edited this year. An off-the-chart extrovert, I now have a personal understanding of comfort animals since it has been Whiskers, my cat, who has been a comforting friend during months of isolation and loneliness. My late-night chats with him have been long and philosophical. Since he is vocal, he engages in conversation although I am not sure whether he agrees with my positions, or not.

The year offered wonderful opportunities to learn as well as teach. One learning opportunity that began in December 20’ and ended June 4, was in the study group considering, The Catholic Intellectual Tradition, headed by Aaron Willis, Director of the Bannan Forum. We examined a broad list of Catholic intellectual contributions over time. I chose readings for the last session, all by women theologians. This study has been essential to my teaching efforts and has offered me a renewed appreciation for my Catholic tradition.

I have been in a Pedagogy Working Group since January, where we exchange joys and woes and offer each other support on how to be better at educating.

Winter Quarter, I studied with a group headed by David DeCosse on the encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, by Pope Francis. The varied responses were enlightening and the document ‘rocked my world’ a bit.

On Saturday, May 1, with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Silicon Valley, I gave a talk on fasting. I offered a comparison of the spirituality of fasting during Christian Lent with the spirituality of the Ramadan fast.

Saturday, May 8, I gave a paper entitled, “Epistemological Turn: A Response to Fratelli Tutti," at a Philosophy conference at San Jose State University (via zoom).

I would like to thank Boo Riley, Diana Gibson, Gene Schlesinger and Paul Schutz. Working with you on the Task Force has been a joy. My perspective on ‘rank’ has been enlightened to know that faculty of varying ranks can work so well together, consider arguments together, and produce positive end results, together.


David Gray

David Gray, while not tending to department administration and the teaching of his course on religious experience, worked on two publications during the first half of 2021. These include his article "Bodies of Knowledge: Bodily Perfection in Tantric Buddhist Practice," published in the journal Religions. He has also been working on editing a volume of papers presented at  a conference attended in India in December 2019, to be entitled The Legacy of Tsongkhapa: Contributions of Tibet’s Great Philosopher-Saint. This will hopefully be published by the end of this year.


Roberto Mata

During the academic year, Roberto Mata published a book chapter and an article. The chapter titled "And I Saw Googleville Descend from Heaven: Reading Revelation in Gentrified Latinx Communities of Silicon Valley” was published in the Fordham Volume,  Land of Stark Contrasts: Faith-Based Responses to Homelessness in the United States. The article titled "Exodus Testimonios: Migrant Spirituality in the U.S./Mexico Borderlands," which looks at how migrants appropriate the Exodus narratives to negotiate complex socio-political situations was published in Revista (The Harvard Review for Latin America). Furthermore, at the annual meeting of the Society for Biblical Literature, Mata offered a book review response to Sara Emmanuel’s Roasting Rome: Humor, Resistance and Jewish Cultural Persistence in the Book of Revelation. Moreover,  his mentee and SCU body president, Ciara Moezidis, received a full ride to Harvard Divinity School. In recognition of her academic and leadership potential, Ciara was awarded the Dean's fellowship. She is the seventh SCU grad to receive admission since our department, under the leadership of David Gray began to host recruitment sessions with HDS admissions representatives.


Katia Moles

Katia Moles has been busy at (virtual) conferences this past year. In addition to facilitating a 1.45 hour faculty workshop on social justice pedagogies at the American Sociological Association's national conference, she also presented online teaching strategies at the annual meetings for the Pacific Sociological Association and the American Academy of Religion Western Region. At SCU's Digital Humanities for Racial Justice: Teaching Showcase, she presented the results of a project-based service learning course partnership with Canal Alliance, a non-profit advocacy organization for Latinx immigrants. Moles and colleagues were also awarded a collaborative SCU Bannan grant to support and assess anti-racist work across campus as well as grant funds to aid such work in the Religious Studies Department. Also, they have partnered with the Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the Office for Multicultural Learning to expand support for these university-wide efforts.


Michelle Mueller

The SCU Center for the Arts & Humanities had a special Zoom event on May 6, celebrating RS Faculty/CAH Faculty Fellow, Michelle Mueller's new book,  New Religions and the Mediation of Non-Monogamy: Polyamory, Polygamy, and Reality Television. A recording of the event can be found here.


David Pinault

David Pinault's new novel Providence Blue (published by Ignatius Press) will be released this summer.  In September 2020 his article "The Gods of Pulp Horror: H. P. Lovecraft and His Religion" appeared in Catholic World Report.  He also contributed a foreword to a forthcoming new edition of Jean-Jacques Antier's biography of Blessed Charles de Foucauld. 


Sarah Robinson-Bertoni

Sarah Robinson

Sarah E. Robinson (she/her) completes the academic year 2020-2021 as Quarterly Adjunct Lecturer at Santa Clara University and as Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion and the Environment for Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. She offered courses “Comparative Religion and Environmentalism” (Summer 2020) and “Women and Buddhism from US Standpoints” (Spring 2021) for Santa Clara University. Robinson serves the American Academy of Religion as a Steering Committee Member for the Religion and Food Unit, and is a Climate Reality Leadership Corps Member, in addition to an SCU Sustainability Guide and Sustainability Liaison.

Building on a 2017 CTSA panel presentation, two SCU R faculty members will release a new book, entitled Valuing Lives, Healing Earth: Religion, Gender, and Life on Earth (Peeters, 2021). Robinson co-edited the book with senior scholar Teresia Mbari Hinga of SCU/Religious Studies, Lilian Dube of University of San Francisco, and Theresa Yugar of California State University, Los Angeles. Published with support from the European Society for Women in Theological Research, the book features essays from myriad senior and emerging scholars, including Ivone Gebara, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Aruna Gnanadason, Frederique Apfell-Marglin, Sylvia Marcos, Adrienne Krone, and Jea Sophia Oh. The volume highlights the centrality of women in local environmental leadership, interweaving religious and indigenous knowledge, meaningful ritual, participatory activism, and nourishing food. The four editors co-wrote a book chapter, entitled, “Editors’ Introduction: Amplifying Voices, Adding Disinfecting Sunshine, and Entering Mutual Solidarity.”