January 22 2018

Michelle Voss Roberts interviewed by Kristian Petersen

What can study of the beliefs and practices of one tradition bring to bear on another? Michelle Voss Roberts, associate professor of theology at Wake Forest University's divinity school, discusses how ethnographic study of Indian and South Asian Hindu rituals and aesthetics can bring new theological space to explore Christian practice. Using the Indian framework of "rasa," loosely defined as emotion or taste, Roberts suggests that Christian scholars, theologians, and practitioners can reexamine and experience the Divine through mood and affect. Robert's 2014 book, Tastes of the Divine: Hindu and Christian Theologies of Emotion (Fordham University Press), won the American Academy of Religion's 2015 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion for constructive-reflective studies.

by Stephen Kidd, National Humanities Alliance

Several years ago, the National Humanities Alliance invited Folger Shakespeare Library Director Mike Witmore to testify on Capitol Hill in support of federal funding for the humanities. In his finely-crafted remarks, Witmore drew on his experience teaching Shakespeare to engineering students at Carnegie Mellon University to make the claim that “a lot of what makes us tick cannot be stated as an equation.” At the end of his remarks, he posed a question to the committee: “What would happen if you subtracted Shakespeare from our world, from our schools, and from our culture?” He then answered, “… America would not have produced a Lincoln, a Frederick Douglass, or an Emily Dickinson, all of whom were steeped in the plays of this writer.”

When Witmore concluded, the Republican chair of the subcommittee—whom I paraphrase here—said: “I think I can speak for the whole committee in saying that we get it. We care about this. But, our constituents don’t ask for the humanities. So my challenge to the advocates in this room is: get our constituents to ask for the humanities.”

by Mary L. Keller, University of Wyoming

Airplane taking off, distorted by heat

As an applied historian of religions, I am working with Rod Morrison, MBA, a local Wyoming organic farmer, to consider “Ecology as the Arbiter of Value in the 21st Century.” In a paper we developed for a 2014 Critical Finance Studies conference at the University of Amsterdam, and drawing from Wes Jackson’s work in Consulting the Genius of the Place (Counterpoint 2011) and Emmanuel Pastereich’s promotion of an international eco-currency, Rod and I proposed a currency based on the calorie, what we call the FCV—food calorie value. What does the FCV have to do with Laurie Zoloth’s 2014 presidential address to the AAR in which she proposed an Annual Meeting sabbatical every seven years?


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