April 23 2018

by Cassie Hillman Trentaz, Warner Pacific College

child's hand with a crayon coloring line images of hats in many colors

My partner and I moved from Chicago, IL, to Portland, OR, more than 1000 miles away from our families for a one-class-per-semester adjunct teaching gig when I was nearly seven months pregnant.

Please, hold your applause. Yes, we are obviously geniuses.

Opportunity had emerged in Portland that seemed worth exploring. We were invited to come and participate in a college that was reinventing its relationship to context, neighborhood, and questions of what it means to be faithful and responsible in this here and now. I wanted in on that. That first year, I gave birth, finished and successfully defended my dissertation, and taught those two classes for a whopping $3,000 total income for our family of three. Gratefully, at the end of that year, a full-time teaching position opened and I got the job. (You can breathe now.)

Sarah Jacoby, Northwestern University

A protest sign reads "Bring Back Facts! Make America THINK again!"

The impact of the 2016 election of Donald J. Trump as 45th President of the United States reverberated across campuses all over the country, affecting students and their professors in religious studies classrooms in myriad ways. In the immediate aftermath of the election, teachers faced emotionally charged classrooms, replete with students who were weeping and despondent, terrified and stunned, elated and vindicated, and the full-range between. Walking into the classroom bleary-eyed the morning after the election raised immediate pedagogical questions for those of us standing in front of students in the throes of processing the results. Should we initiate a discussion about students’ reactions or avoid addressing it head-on given the emotional intensity of the moment? Should we stick tightly to the scheduled topic of the day, or veer off the syllabus to consider what was, to many, a shocking election outcome? Should we maintain a neutral stance in the classroom, giving all students’ voices a chance to be heard while maintaining our own objectivity? Or was that even possible, let alone morally conscionable, in the face of rhetoric (not to mention the specter of impending legislation) that left some students and their families endangered?

Interview with Kristian Petersen

Bhrigupati Singh, assistant professor of anthropology at Brown University, speaks about how his examination of the Sahariyas, a tribe living in extreme poverty in Northwest India, stretches and blurs the boundaries of religion and secularity in studying how the tribespeople reflect on questions of ethics, happiness, and quality of life. His work encourages scholars of religion—particularly those engaging with nonwestern traditions—to develop a comparative vocabulary that goes beyond Eurocentrism and Postcolonialism alike.

Singh is the author of Poverty and the Quest for Life: Spiritual and Material Striving in Rural India (University of Chicago Press, 2016), which won the AAR's 2016 Book Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in the category of analytical-descriptive studies.

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