July 19 2024

Metamodernism and the Future of Theory with Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm

Interview with Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm

Welcome to Religious Studies News. I'm your host, Kristian Petersen, and today I'm here with Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm, professor of religion and Chair of Science and Technology Studies at Williams College. He's the winner of the 2022 AAR Book Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Constructive-Reflective Studies. He's here to speak to us about that book, Metamodernism: The Future of Theory, published with the University of Chicago Press. Congratulations, and thanks for joining me.

Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm:

Yeah, it's a real pleasure to be here and fun to be chatting with you again.

Kristian Petersen:

Yeah, yeah, you're always up for an invigorating conversation, which I enjoy, and this book certainly warrants it. It's a pretty epic book. It probably could be multiple books, so there's a lot to cover. I'll just jump right in with this term in the title "metamodernism." In my reading, and again, it's a challenging book - for me at least this term kind of posits a pathway for a new model which you provide in the book, right? A kind of necessary break or rupture from how we've kind of tackled things in the humanities and social sciences previously. So you're not providing a history here, but a kind of new avenue. So what does metamodernism mean for you as you use it in the book? What might be some of the postmodern problematics that necessitate this change you put forward? How might we enter into this project?

Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm:

So to sort of take a step back, I came to the title Metamodernism a bit late, and so even that word that appeared in the title of the book only after the first round of peer review. What I was trying to do, and I'll explain how I came to it in a second, but what I was trying to do was work through the kind of inherited theory that I had gotten as a theory kid in the study of religion in the academy, but also as a fan of (and heavily influenced by) both continental and Asian philosophy. I was doing a lot of reading basically from undergrad all the way through PhD and early graduate work in many different threads in what comes to be called theory. And there were two things that struck me about that theory that made me unhappy.

The first thing was that on a certain level, a lot of what we were doing in terms of theory was what we could call "tarrying in the negative." It was the main function of theory, often, to undercut or demolish something. So we could see this in really basic prefixes. Postmodernism was the negativity version of modernism, or deconstruction or anti-essentialism, et cetera. And a lot of this theory was a kind of roving skepticism of the sort that we were taught how to basically track down anything we wanted to and then hurl it into the abyss. And I love this stuff and I thought it was cool, and I still in a way think that we need to start from the negative, but what bothered me is that we kept repeating the same kind of criticisms over and over again. It had become a kind of automatic criticism where you just plug your scholarship into something and it gives you some predetermined terms and a predetermined sort of skeptical stance, et cetera.

The other thing that bothered me is that a lot of what we call theory is basically bullshit. And I mean that in the sense of the philosopher Harry Frankfurt, who famously argued that the essence of bullshit is something that doesn't really care whether it's true or not. And a lot of theory just sounded really cool. Scholars would kind of use it as branding, transcendental hypo-anthropoo-genesis or something, and then they would stick it on their work and it produces a veneer of radicalism. But it didn't make much difference for those of us who were workaday scholars in religious studies who actually wanted to think things differently, wanted to do scholarship in different ways, and wanted to answer a set of problems that almost all scholars are likely to encounter in the process of doing their research. And that's what I set out this book to do, to work through the postmodern problematics very seriously and rigorously and to see if out the other side it might have something kind of pragmatic.

And then I had undergraduates read it and they crossed out every kind of word that looked like it was too much jargon or had me explain it. The one problem was, when it went through peer review people wanted it to have an ism. I didn't want it to have isms because isms tend to connote kind of ideologies in one way or another. But it was clear that that was going to be part of the peer reviewing. And so thinking about what ism I might assimilate it to, I was reminded of the work of a Nigerian art historian, Moyo Okediji. He's since become a kind of friend or mentor, and he used the term "metamodern" to describe artists, post-colonial artists, who were subverting and reworking both modernism and postmodernism alike to produce something different. And that's what I wanted to do with this book. So that's where the term metamodernism comes from. But I'm not so much trying to describe an existing paradigm as produce a paradigm shift and to do that, this is basically work of systematic theory or systematic philosophy in a no bullshit way. So you should be able to tell when I'm wrong when you read through it. I want people to be able to tell me what I've got wrong and what's useful and what's not useful. Yeah, that's one way to put it.

Kristian Petersen:

Yeah, I hope folks will take it up and try and figure out if it's applicable in their context. I think it will be helpful. So again, the book is grand in scope and you have various parts dealing with very complicated philosophical questions, methodological problems, and probably each of these parts could be their own book. But yeah, and --

Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm:

It was, sorry to interrupt, but I should say when it was peer-reviewed, it was a lot longer. So part of the reason it has that quality, the press got me to cut something like 30 percent. So it's very sucked down. Even then it probably could have been more than one book, but part of it too is that the ideas are systematic. And so I have this idea that if your stance toward ethics might affect your stance toward epistemology, or at least your epistemology is going to change your account of meaning and et cetera, et cetera. So all these things kind of get entangled, and I was trying to pick them all up together. But yeah, it's weird. Systematic philosophy is totally out of vogue, but I felt I needed to do it to do it seriously. Yeah.

Kristian Petersen:

So it might be tricky to work through these since they're all interrelated, but just kind following the construction of the book, you start with this idea of meta-realism where you're looking at this debate between realism and anti-realism. For those that aren't really thinking about this, what are you saying are the parameters of this debate? And then how do you propose accounting for different modes of the real?

Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm:

Yeah, so one of the perennial problems that we encounter, and I think this is true of scholars in humanities and social sciences, but religious studies in particular, is sloppy questions about our attitude towards something being real or not real. And indeed, religious studies right now, in certain respects, is split between folks like the Kevin Schilbracks of the world who are avowed realists, and the Russell McCutcheons of the world who have been, at least in the past, avowedly anti-realist. I draw on both of them and I'm not arguing against either of them specifically, but I find that whole binary a mess. And indeed it's not just in religious studies, but if you look more broadly, a lot of academic disciplines are split between people who think of themselves as realists or anti-realists. And if you push into it, what I argue in this book is if you read them closely, it's a total mess.

A lot of people who call themselves realists hold positions that are equivalent to those of anti-realists, or for instance, folks calling themselves speculative realists, it turns out that they're granting a kind of chaotic cosmology that most realists would associate with Nietzsche and think of as an anti-realism, or you might be a positivist like Carnap and actually be denying the necessity of a real world, but be doing it in the favor of scientific positivism. Anyway, the fights are all a mess. And I want to suggest that there are two problems with that. One. The real is basically, I want to suggest a contrast term that gets its meaning basically from an implicit contrast with something that's often not stated. So if I tell you, that is a picture of the real Joe Strummer, I could mean it is a real picture in that it is a real photograph, not something I just created on whatever the current AI visual creation model is. Or, I might be saying it's a real picture of Joe Strummer because it's really a picture of him or it's a real photograph, or Joe Strummer's his real name, unlike the musician who performed under that name or whatever.

All those are different contrasts and different ways that a thing might be real. A dream that you've had is a real dream, even though the thing that happened in the dream may have not really happened or whatever. And so often we're talking past each other when we're talking about whether something is real or not. That's the first point. The second point is that in the humanities and social sciences, a lot of scholars in the sciences in general, when they're talking about the real or something being real, they mean something that is mind-independent. But those of us in the humanities and social sciences mostly focus on things that are in various ways, mind-dependent, especially if you start to theorize mind-dependence, which I do in this chapter.

What does it mean to depend on a mind or in some vernacular jargon, mind-dependence and social construction are crudely equivalent, and we can talk about when they're the same or when they're different. But for many respects they are the same. So if we say something is socially constructed, well, it turns out there are many different ways for something to be mind-dependent or socially constructed. For instance, a club or a sword is socially constructed, but if you look at a sword and say you're socially constructed, therefore you're not real, then the sword is still going to strike you down and hurt you. So objects, artifacts are socially constructed, categories are socially constructed, but their socially constructedness is often in disconnect to the thing that they're referring to or what have you, or something could be socially constructed or mind-dependent, like a list of my favorite flavors of frozen yogurt.

Now I have a list to categorize. I would probably have to go complete plain frozen yogurt at the top there, and then maybe something matcha would be the next one or whatever. But that's a list that is an actual list that I have in my head. And so it's not unreal. It's real insofar as you're asking, do I have a list of favorite yogurts? If so, then the answer is real. All that is to say that I start in the book, and it's just a shorter chapter, trying to untangle some of that mess before we settle down to the real business, which is implied by that, which is: if socially constructed things are real, or at least depending on how we define real, they involve certain kinds of existence, then how are socially constructed things brought into being? How does social construction make something real? Rather than presuming that social construction is unreal, one might say. And so from that, we can move forward and I think get out of certain kinds of paralyzing oppositions like that between realists and anti-realists. Yeah.

Kristian Petersen:

Yeah. The second part is rather large and you kind of build on one another. This section has three chapters in it. I think the whole part was called "Process Social Ontology," and here this is the shift in humanities social science research that you're laying out. So I guess what are the conclusions you've drawn from this cross-disciplinary approach to analysis of the social world and the nature of categories that we employ? And then you offer what you call a theory of social kinds. So how does this help us move past some of the problems of comparison and generalization?

Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm:

So to start off this section, and in a way, this was in certain respects the beginning of the book when I first started to write it. Some of this was the first chapter, and then I rearranged things a little bit. So in religious studies, and I know this is true at my college, and maybe it's true at some other institutions, we often save for senior undergraduate majors the critique of the category. Basically what tends to happen in an undergraduate study of religion is that students go along thinking that there's some objective thing called religion, and they might argue about how to define it in one way or the other, but they study different religions and then all of a sudden in their senior seminar we say, "Hey, guess what?"

The category "religion" is a mess. It is something whose universality is contested. It emerges perhaps from a particular moment in the history of European Christendom. It is asymmetrically applied across the globe. It has an unstable tension between the religious and the secular, which as Talal Asad and others have argued, each presumes the other in ways that they can't support. It's a value normative, it's a loaded term, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So we kind of pulled the category of religion out from under them in their senior seminar. And I started off this book in a way emerging from that critique I had made already in The Invention of Religion in Japan and I made it a little bit more robust, I think, than some iterations of it, because in that book I wanted to focus on Japanese elite who are encountering this term religion for the first time and seeing the mess of that category. But in any case, I showed or attempted to show some of the problems with that category, and its globalization.

So here's the thing, it turns out that it's not just religious studies that has a similar kind of a mess. It turns out that there are critiques of the categories “art" in the history of art, “culture" in anthropology, “society" in sociology, "the political" in political science, “history" within history departments, and so on. Now, they're not always equally prominent. In some disciplines like history departments, for instance, we're like, "Okay, we don't even need to think too hard about what history is. Maybe we need to just focus on the archives" or what have you. But these critiques exist and they often come to similar conclusions. And in the book, I spend the first part of that bulky section tracing out the affinities of these critiques and their shared conceptual roots.

In that respect, I show and I provide a kind of toolkit. I think of it as a deconstructive dojo and anyone reading that section, it'll teach you how to knock down, demolish, and to use this term in a non-technical sense, deconstruct any master category that you encounter. But here's the key thing. I argue that if we actually grant these critiques, not resist them, they tell us something fundamental about the social world and the nature of the categories themselves. And so the first move is to - if all these categories fall apart in similar ways - I argue that means that there is something similar to the ways that these categories have been historically formulated. And I go on to address these basically, and I do such through way of philosophy of biology. I argue that humans aren't the only kind of social creature. So we might think of social categories as being produced by everything from wolf packs to dolphins to any kind of social animal in any case.

And especially if you do not presume a bifurcation between the social and the material, which as you might have guessed from my account of social construction earlier, I think is a mistake, you start to see termite mounds as socially constructed. You can start to see beaver dams as socially constructed. Well, if you take the idea that social kinds - and we just use this term as a placeholder - social kinds are shorthand for socially constructed kinds. So it's not necessarily kinds that are social as opposed to political or social as opposed to, I dunno, cultural or religious or something like that. It's just a placeholder term. But what I use it to refer to are these second-order categories, second-order kinds or clusters that have different properties than the creatures that originally produced them. So I can make a hammer that can do things that are distinct from my properties.

And those properties can sometimes have feedback relations though. So I can produce a social kind, let's say, condemned criminal, and then I become condemned and executed for it or what have you. So I mean, there is looping phenomena going on. Anyway, in any sense. What I then argue is that those social kinds are best thought of as process kinds and thinking of them in terms of processes. And I don't mean this as a kind of silly metaphor or something like, oh, it's cool, processes are fun or whatever. I mean, in a sort of very literal sense. I think we can address many of the critiques that cause categories like religion, art, race, et cetera, to collapse and think instead about how they were put together. And that gives us a new orientation to them to think of 'em as processes, both because it gives us a way to describe them with some analytical precision, but it also helps us figure out how we might free ourselves from them in the cases that those categories seem to us oppressive and trapping us in different ways.

And also by focusing on the processes that produce those categories and the effects that those categories have once produced, I think I'm able to say something much more concrete implies different kinds of social scientific or humanistic work that we might do. It also starts to address problems with ways that we might think about being emancipatory in ways that we otherwise might have seen to be on grasp. And it gives us a way of addressing some of the key insights of anti-essentialism. For instance, I start with a long discussion of anti-essentialism in feminist theory, for instance, which has been incredibly productive and moved us in some great distance, but then got caught in a certain impasse where they assumed that if you could undo essential essences, then you couldn't say anything. And by contrast, we can grant all the critiques of essences by focusing on processes basically. I'm not going into quite enough detail there, but hopefully that's a teaser. 

Kristian Petersen:

Yeah, I think probably helpful for people that haven't read the book yet. So in the third part, you tackled the linguistic turn as a method of conceptual analysis. So where do you see the linguistic turn kind of falling short? And then how does your hylosemiotics, the kind of approach you offer, allow us to grasp meaning signs and matter in more dynamic ways?

Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm:

Yeah, totally. So I know when you introduce a term that sounds like jargon, I need to explain it. So to take a step back, I think basically one of the things that's obvious if you're working on things like social kinds is that you need the count of meaning, right? We need to have a sense of the meaning of meaning. And indeed it's not just for social kinds, it's across the humanities and social sciences. We're often engaged in interpretation where we have to adjudicate claims of meaning. What did Smith say when he said that the Supreme Court was a sacred institution, for instance? To interpret that, we have to have a theory of meaning. We don't have a theory of meaning that we've worked out ourselves. We inherit one and the dominant inherited one in the United States, in the anglophone world, in much of the humanities and social sciences, not in linguistics, not in analytic philosophy, but in the other disciplines was something that we inherited loosely from a Swiss thinker named Ferdinand de Saussure and his later interpreters.

And it was something that's vulgarly called structuralism, although Saussure didn't use the term structuralism to describe his project, but basically various folks had the idea that what it means for a word to mean something is a relationship between a sign and a mental image, or a concept. So it's a word-concept relation, not a word-world relation. And the concepts were defined differentially. So the meaning of the word “mutton" is in contrast to the meaning of the word “pork" on one hand, and the meaning of uncooked “lamb" on the other. I'm a vegetarian, I don't know, but I think something like that, right? So this was a broadly Saussurean model, but then this took dominance basically in various ways at the beginning of the 20th century, and it came in alongside interpretation of meaning itself, associated with folks like Benjamin Whorf who argued for what could be called linguistic determination, basically, that we live, that our linguistic categories determine our perception of the world. They may even create the world that we live in.

And so you've got the two things happening at once. The idea that people are imprisoned in their language and that languages only relates to other languages or relates to concepts, but doesn't have any connection to the world. Those two things reinforced each other. And this led to a bunch of really paradoxical conclusions. This is what basically Derrida and company were doing, although they thought it was a problem with language in general, they were basically just producing paradoxes in this inherited notion of meaning. So for instance, if you have this view of language, you might get the idea that translation is impossible, an irony, because most people are reading that claim in works in translation and in works that make their case by citing what is missing in a translation.

But okay, you get the idea that translation is impossible, that there's no such thing as a particular kind of reference. The meanings are always infinitely deferred, or whatever. If meaning is always differential, there's nowhere for meaning to be located, you start to have something that we could call the symbolic grounding problem, which is to say of signs or just about relationships to other signs. Then how come you're not infinitely passing the buck? Where do those signs hook onto the world? Or do they? Perhaps they don't hook onto the world at all? And then you get this view that's also associated with Heidegger, although for him, language was a little bit more complicatedly in this view, but basically that we're imprisoned in interpretation and we're imprisoned in our linguistic categories.

But it turns out that this is false, and it's false for a bunch of reasons, but not the least of it because it doesn't give us an account for how language might've evolved. And, because it leads toward all these unnecessary and messy paradoxes, basically. There are also a bunch of other reasons why it's just descriptively not a very good view of language. And one ill-suited to those of us doing scholarship in the humanities and social sciences, because basically it seems to suggest that we can't do scholarship, that interpretation is impossible, and that we're caught in a hermeneutic circle from which we can never escape.

So what's the alternative? So I go back to again, my friends, the animals. And I started to think about the evolution of language, and I had an encounter with a snow monkey when I was doing field work in Japan for a different project, and it just made me realize the way that there are communicative signs and that human language had to evolve from somewhere. Whatever our distinctive features of human languages, it must have evolved from something that was akin to the communication strategies of our fellow primates and what have you.

And all that is to say, I'm going to shortcut here cause I know I've been going on for a little bit, but basically I want to argue that if we think about meaning in a very different way, and here -- I'm looking out the window now and there are gray clouds outside the window, and even in English I might say gray clouds mean rain. Well, I want to say that's the same kind of thing that I might be saying as when I say, when you say the word rain, you mean wet water that's going to fall on your head or something like that. So in this respect, I argue that meaning is best understood in terms of perception. I argue that there are both voluntary and involuntary signs. They're both things that you're intentionally producing and things that you're not intentionally producing. And from the vantage of a particular sign-consuming creature, whether that's a human or a tick or a bat, the world is made up of meaningful signs.

Those signs aren't a one-to-one correspondence to the world, but they are inferences that we're capable of drawing from our perceptual experiences and from our senses. And that means different people might get different kinds of meaning out of the same tree, but there is not an infinity of possible meanings. Or in other words, you can also be wrong about things. I can think, oh, the gray clouds mean it's going to rain, but I'm wrong because they're not the right kind of gray and it is not going to rain. So all that is to say, I try and articulate a new form of semiotics that focuses how meaning emerges not in separation from the world, but as part of the world.

And if you think about it in a very literal sense, any kind of meaning that you're getting is mediated in some way, whether it's sound waves or written marks on paper or what have you. It comes through some perceptual organs and in some way filtered through material world and hylo here being a Greek prefix that needs either matter or forest, and therefore it was appropriate to the kind of semiotics. I'm trying to articulate all that is to say, I think I go into a lot more detail than you need. It's the single longest chapter in the book, but it's an attempt to articulate a new theory of meaning and why it helps us as scholars. 

Kristian Petersen:

Yeah, there's a lot there. So even with what you've described, there's a lot more to get into, but the last section of the book is focused on questions of knowledge and value where you offer a metamoden epistemology. How would you describe this epistemological stance that you're putting forward, and how does it address postmodernism's epistemological commitment to radical skepticism?

Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm:

Yeah. So yeah, two pieces here, but I'll do the epistemology one first. So in religious studies, you've probably encountered people who describe themselves as skeptics, those of you listening. And what you might or might not have the sense of, is that most skeptics are dogmatically asserting something that they don't believe in. So if they're a religious skeptic, they're going to come at you with the assumption that religion is all junk, or if they're a skeptic about climate change or climate science, they're going to come at it presuming that climate science is a hoax or whatever it is. So this is weird if you think about it a little bit, because skepticism should communicate a doubt, not a certainty, but it turns out, as I argue, in many portions of the academy what we're flagging as skepticism is not doubting, but different kinds of negative forms of dogmatism.

The claim "knowledge is power," or "truth is impossible" or what have you. And if we look back to the OG of skepticism, Sextus Empiricus himself, he describes a sort of step in the philosophical thought of his period. First, a group of people who we could call kind of certaintists or absolute certaintists, who are folks that are convinced that they know what the world is like and that they have some kind of direct claims to reality. Contrast to them, he thinks that there are kind of dogmatic skeptics, he actually calls them academic skeptics because they were the group of thinkers associated with Plato's Academy in several generations past Plato when it became a kind of academic skepticism. Anyways, skeptical dogmatists are sure that knowledge is impossible, that nothing can be known. And what Sextus Empiricus wants to do is ask them, how can you be sure that you can't know if you claim to be an all-consuming skeptic?

In contrast, Sextus Empiricus wants to turn skepticism against skepticism, and this becomes someone who doubts, who's capable of doubting whether they can know or doubting whether something is the case or not. It becomes a kind of humble knowledge rather than a commitment. And a term that I borrow from him is zetetic, which is a term he used to describe a kind of seeker, someone constantly searching for things but trying to have minimal knowledge, trying to produce humble knowledge. And that's what I'm trying to do with zeteticism. I'm trying to describe a meta-epistemic stance that describes a better orientation to our object than one of either dogmatic skepticism or dogmatic certainty. And then even more concretely, I want to talk about how you can then produce humble knowledge. So the way to diffuse the kinds of skepticism that run rampant at our moment - and it's probably not escaped anybody listening to this podcast, that skepticism is just as happy on the Right, if not more so than it is on the Left in this particular historic moment - that the way you diffuse skepticism is not by thumping on facts or by insisting on the truth of a particular dogmatic certainty, whether in the name of scientism or some other kind of -ism, but rather by transforming the skeptical dogmatism into doubts and granting the reasonableness of doubts, even as you turn doubts against themselves.

So for instance, if someone comes to you and says, knowledge is power, which my students often get from their sort of very superficial misreading of Foucault, I say to them, good, this is bad as a dogmatic claim. But it's good to be extra skeptical when knowledge claims are being used to justify power positions or when things that are claimed to be true seem to fit too neatly into what the dominant ideology or dominant group believes in a certain moment. Or if somebody comes at you with climate skepticism, you might say, okay, here's some good reasons that you have to be skeptical, and yet here's how we can be skeptical of your skepticism and then move you into a position where we're capable of recognizing the fragility and nonetheless importance of knowledge itself. Yeah, that's one way to put it.

Kristian Petersen:

I would encourage listeners to check out the book and spend a lot of time with it, because even if they just focus on one section, I think they're going to gain a lot, perhaps because we weren't able to cover everything of course. But there might be some critical points you want to add. So maybe as a final thought, if there's anything else you want to introduce that perhaps I didn't get to ask you yet, I'll give you that opportunity.

Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm:

Yeah, thank you very much. I just want to underscore something. So what I'm aiming for is a kind of systematic philosophy geared toward workaday scholars. I think every scholar in religious studies needs a basic epistemological stance. We are constantly evaluating the work of others, whether that is colleagues or students. So we need to think about how knowledge functions, and we need an ethics, if not an ethical goal. I don't think we need the same ethical goal, but we need to think about the ethical issues our research evokes, which is where I put values in the book. A lot of the scholarship that we do has ethical implications, and it would be a mistake to ignore those. The other thing I think we need is a notion of meaning insofar as interpretive issues often predominate the kinds of things that we do. And then finally, I want to argue that we need a social ontology that is a sense about what it is that our research is referring to and how to best get at it.

Postmodernism provided us with a set of each of those, but in each case, and I mean postmodernism as an academic paradigm of a particular thing that I nuance in some detail in the book, but none of those, those were all emancipatory in their own moment under the auspices of postmodernism, we were taught a kind of dogmatic skepticism, a kind of a mix of scornful value critique, and value neutrality. We were taught a broadly Saussurian notion of meaning, and we were taught that there was a way in which ontology was a mistake to think about in terms of the subjects of our scholarship. And that led us, it was emancipative at first, but it actually turns out to be counterproductive and has been delivering diminishing results. So I'm not an anti-postmodernist. I just think that the stuff that we were getting from that era and that moment has spun its way out.

And so what I'm trying to provide in contrast to that is that a basic epistemology and ethics and notion, meaning in a social ontology, and even if you don't agree with me, and there are plenty of you that might not, and I'm committed to humble knowledge, so I'm committed to being wrong about some things. I think even engaging with these issues, seriously thinking about them will change the way that we do scholarship. And I've been overjoyed at the reception the book has received so far, the folks who are using it to do very new and creative work, the kinds of scholarship things that are being flipped on their head.

But I will say it is a dense book. I'm sorry about that. And I think folks have told me that it works best if you reread it once. You read it all the way through, and then you kind of go, oh, I get the point of it a little bit better, and then you read it back through the next time. I'm sorry about that. If I could write in a different way, I would've written it better, but I had a blast writing it, too. So I hope you also catch some of the joy that comes out in this prose. Thank you for listening, and I'm so honored to have received the award from the AAR and yeah, I hope that some of you'll check out the book. Thank you.

Kristian Petersen:

Yeah, congrats, Jason. The book certainly does warrant some time and attention from everybody in religious studies, so I do hope that they will pick it up, spend some time with it, and congrats again on the award. Thank you.