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Religious Studies Department Santa Clara University

Fall 2013

Perspectives Fr. Jim Reites & the SCU Solar Decathlon Team For the third consecutive time, James Reites, S.J., played a central role on Santa Clara University’s Solar Decathlon team. Reites, who has taught in the Religious Studies Department since 1975, spent all summer and much of the fall working on SCU’s 2013 Solar Decathlon entry, dubbed “Radiant House.” During the summer, Reites was the Faculty Advisor for Construction, working tirelessly at the construction site behind Sobrato Hall. He was a participant teacher, not just advising but also getting his hands dirty laboring alongside students. He even got certified as a Fork Lift and Beam Lift operator! But the team’s long days did not end when the house was built. They then had to disassemble the house and load it onto trucks for transport to Southern California, where the 2013 Solar Decathlon competition took place in October. Once there, the team had to reassemble the house and prepare for the competition. The days were long, the work was hard, but even in his third time on the team, Reites found the experience immensely rewarding. Reites’ work on the Solar Decathlon teams brings together several of his interests and experiences, which include undergraduate training in electrical engineering (as well as music, theology, classics and philosophy). In addition, he has significant experience working construction dating back to high school, which he has long put to good use, including building homes on immersion trips to Sicily (while studying in Rome) and in Mexico on immersion trips for Santa Clara students and alumni. Working on Radiant House and previous Solar Decathlon projects has given Reites ways to combine this engineering and construction background with other dimensions of his vocation. First and foremost, it feeds his passion as a teacher, guiding students from their initial uncertainty at the beginning of the project to the confidence to handle challenges entirely on their own. Reites especially enjoyed the community building that resulted from the long hours the team spent together during the construction phase in the summer and the competition phase in October. Reites also served as a spiritual advisor and was called upon to offer blessings at various events and milestones for the project. Reites was the sole faculty member selected from among the twenty competing teams to offer at the competition’s opening ceremonies. Back at SCU, Reites has used experience to create a class entitled “Spirituality and Engineering.” The Solar Decathlon is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, which invites 20 colleges to participate in the competition to design, construct, and operate the most energy efficient, functional, and attractive solar-powered home. This year, fellow competitors included Stanford, the University of Southern California, and California Institute of Technology. Judges score each team in architecture, market appeal, engineering, communications, affordability, comfort zone, hot water, appliances, home entertainment, and energy balance. Unfortunately Radiant House did not place in the overall competition, although it did place highly in several of the individual dimensions, including 1st Place in Comfort Zone and Home Entertainment and tied for 2nd in Hot Water. Congratulations to Reites and the entire SCU Solar Decathlon team.


Shifting Perspectives


Pizza with the Professors


Spider in a Tree


RS Alum Reza Aslan


Faith and Sustainability


Newsletter Editor: Jeffrey A. Ramos


Faculty Updates Paul Crowley S.J. and Sally VanceTrembath were part of the panel on sexuality at the CORE weekly meeting on Nov. 5. Vance-Trembath spoke at St Pius Church on Nov 14. as part of their yearlong series on the legacy of Vatican II where she spoke about Pope John XXIII. She has also been teaching a readings course with four Jesuit School of Theology women students on Vatican II at the Jesuit School of Theology throughout the Fall on Monday Evenings. This past June Kristin Heyer addressed European scholars at the Katholische Akademie in Berlin on teaching Catholic theological ethics in the future, in conjunction with a meeting of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church. She served as USF's Lane Center's Summer Scholar-in-Residence and delivered a July lecture series there on “A Christian Ethic of Immigration.” She also accompanied the SCU delegation to the Commitment to Justice in Jesuit Higher Education conference in Omaha, NE, where she presented on implementing the ELSJ requirement at Santa Clara and delivered a plenary address on international education. Frederick Parrella presented an academic paper titled “New Boundaries: Tillich’s Relevance to thee Millennial Generation” at the XX Colloque International de l’Association Paul Tillich d’Expression Française, “Paul Tillich: un théologien aux frontiers,” Paris, France, 25 May 2013. The paper was published in the Bulletin of the North American Paul Tillich Society 39, 3 (2013): 33–39. Parrella also presented a talk titled “Spirituality Matters…” to recent alumni at a reception in the Donohoe Alumni House, Sunday, 10 November 2013. Parrella has served as a referee for five book proposals submitted to Oxford University Press, New York, and another book proposal from Mercer University Press in Macon, Georgia. He also served as a referee for an article submitted to Sofia, an Australian journal of theology. Jean Molesky-Poz's article, "At the Ambo: Unique Perspectives of Women Preachers," was published in the online America magazine (October 18th). She posed the question: "Will the wonderful practice of women preachers (Continued on Page 3)

Shifting Perspectives “In Religious Studies we have a lot of interfaith dialogues. I have gotten the impression we’ll be okay with our differences as long as we talk with one another,” said Blair Libby, RS minor. After listening to two First Nation speakers in RSOC 91, Blair reasoned, “It is really difficult to understand one another. I realize there can be a lot of tension between religions. Complete tolerance and religious understanding doesn't come easy, especially when someone has a history with a particular faith as an antagonist." Blair’s comment was a response after hearing Orlando Gushoney, White Mountain th Apache from Northern Arizona, who on November 11 had chronicled his people’s displacement by the mining industry, forced attendance at boarding schools, and U.S. Calvary campaigns. Catholic missionaries arrived and imposed their beliefs; shortly after, during the Allotment Era, the U. S. government changed Apache family names to those of United States presidents: “Washington,” “Jefferson.” In the 1920s, the Mormons, Fundamentalists and Methodists came to the reservation, “to save these people.” Orlando said, “They set up churches and divided the people, not understanding that the clan is the basis of our identity.” He spoke of a persevering Franciscan priest, Fr. Eddie Fronske, who for 28 years stayed with the Apache to heal these divisions. “This is not what it means to be a Christian people,” the Friar said. When the traditionalists asked the Franciscan why he persisted among them for so long, he said, “I saw the Virgin Mary in the fire.” Orlando explained, “That vision was significant for us, and we had to figure out what medicine he brings to us.” Today, the traditional people and their ceremonies are integrated into the Catholic Church. “A lot of trauma still lives inside of me,” Orlando said, “inside of us.”

Left: Orlando Gushoney, a White Mountain Apache, Right: Blair Libby, Religious Studies Minor th

A week earlier, on November 7 Roberto Poz Perez, K’iche’-Maya from the Guatemala highlands, shared his call to be a calendar-keeper. From his youth, Roberto wanted to be a leader in his community. “After much suffering,” he said, “I understood that my call was not political, it was spiritual, to be a spiritual guide to my people.” For seven years, Roberto studied the 260-day sacred calendar, Popul Wuj, the Maya creation story; he learned to interpret dreams and “lightening in the blood,” a Maya form of discernment, and to perform ceremonies with the fire. For thirty years, he has served individuals and communities in Guatemala, in Central America, and in the United States. “You could see in his body movements, his facial expressions, and even the tone of his voice that the ceremony was something so sacred and special to him,” said Gigi Groener. “I definitely walked away from that class period with a different understanding and appreciation for his vocation. I feel that he has contributed to my experience in this class in a way that a book could not explain.” (Continued on Page 3)

For most students, RSOC 91 is their first opportunity to study the diverse beliefs and practices of the First Peoples of the Americas, not only in the class, but in visits to the Ohlone Indian Canyon in Hollister, to the American Indian Film Festival in SF, or attending forums held by the local Muwekma Ohlone. About 10-15% of the SCU students who enroll in Native Spiritual Traditions are mixed; yet, most know little about their Native American ancestry or spirituality. For them, the class often becomes a site for a fuller understanding of themselves. “I’ve learned Cherokee spirituality is not just about respect for the Earth,” wrote Luke Judson, descendent of both Choctaw and Cherokee Nations, “but also respect for myself.” Heidi Johnson reflected similarly. “I have come to the realization that my life and spirituality have been shaped through the experience of the Choctaw Nation,” she wrote: “In my research, I discovered what made the Choctaw Nation, a highly scattered, assimilated and Christian tribe, experience of God unique. Claiming a Choctaw identity as something good and to be proud of allows us to live fuller lives that contain more meaning. Each and every one of us, Choctaw or not, has a journey to make. I am ecstatic to say that I have a better sense of why and how I view the world.” -Jean Molesky-Poz

Pizza with the Professors This quarter's Pizza with the Professors took an autobiographical turn. Professors were asked to talk about their vocations as scholars and teachers. Many brought books from college or grad school that opened their minds. We learned many interesting facts about professors that we would not have heard in class. Some had fascinating tales of where they were from, such as Dr. Teresia Hinga's journey from her hometown in Kenya to the Silicon Valley. They shared tales of what might have been, such as Dr. Fred Parella's offer to get his doctorate in classics rather than theology. And of course, Dr. David Pinault shared tales of globe-romping in the Islamic world from Iran to Indonesia.

All had some fascinating story of being called, of being enthused by a particular subject, and of having valuable mentors along the way. I especially enjoyed hearing about Dr. Sarita Tamayo-Moraga's mentors in medieval Catholic spirituality (the famed Bernard McGinn) and Zen (the late Darlene Cohen). As a major, one thing I really treasure about this department is the intellectual connection and mentoring my professors offer to us. Hearing our own professors talk about who called them, who considered them worthy and talented enough to be where they are today, was inspiring. We will continue this theme next quarter, and I invite all majors, minors, and friends to partake in these sharing and thought-provoking events. -Jonathan Homrighausen

3 (From page 2) emerge again so that others today might say as the townspeople of Samaria said 2,000 years ago, "We believed in him on the strength of the woman's testimony." The article was republished in the online Santa Clara magazine. She continues to coordinate Women in Conversation, a bimonthly gathering of Catholic women at Holy Spirit parish in Berkeley. David DeCosse published in the December 2013 issue of the journal Criminal Justice Ethics a Review Essay of the book, "Terrorism, Ticking Time Bombs, and Torture: A Philosophical Analysis" by Fritz Allhoff. He also published the essay "Imbalance Between Francis, U.S. Bishops Undermines Religious Liberty Campaign" in the October 23, 2013 edition of the National Catholic Reporter (available at mbalance-undermines-bishopscampaign). DeCosse has also received a book contract with University of Notre Dame Press for a project called "Catholicism, Inequality, Freedom: An Essay in Theological Ethics." In August-September 2013, David Pinault did fieldwork in Indonesia and the Philippines. He gave presentations at Brawijaya University (Malang, East Java) and at ProFauna Indonesia’s biennial conference (Petungsewu, East Java) on the topic “Wisdom from Borobudur Temple: Indonesian Religious Perspectives on HumanAnimal Relations and Protection of the Archipelago’s Forests.” Pinault also visited tarsier wildlife sanctuaries on the island of Bohol, interviewed leaders of the Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defenders Front), and met with para pemilik dan pembuat keris (makers and collectors of the Malay kris-dagger) to learn about the variety of roh-roh halus (“refined spirits”) that can be induced to inhabit this weaponry. Pinault's essay "The Syria I Knew" was published in the November 4, 2013 issue of the Christian Science Monitor Weekly. A fuller version of this article, entitled "My Night in a Syrian Army Barracks," can be found online at This past spring Professor Akiba Lerner gave a response paper at Stanford University entitled “The Eros of Inter-subjective Encounter and Inter-Religious dialogue” as part of a panel entitled “Vatican II [1962-5] and Other Religions: a (Continued on Page 4)

Spider in a Tree

4 (From page 3) a Milestone?” organized by Professor Paul Crowley. This past summer Prof. Lerner also submitted final edits to a chapter entitled “Otherness and Liberal Democratic Solidarity: Buber, Kaplan, Levinas And Rorty’s Social Hope” This chapter is part of an edited volume entitled Thinking Jewish Culture in America to be published December, 2013 by Lexington books. Prof. Lerner looks forward to completing his book manuscript this coming year, tentatively entitled Redemptive Hope: From the Age of Enlightenment to the Age of Obama. He also looks forward to continuing efforts at building more of a Jewish Studies presence at Santa Clara.

On October 23rd, author Susan Stinson visited the Santa Clara University campus to discuss her book, Spider in a Tree. Stinson’s novel examines the many dimensions of Jonathan Edwards, who was, in the estimation of many, America’s greatest theologian. Stinson is the author of two other novels and of a collection of poetry. She is also Writer in Residence at Forbes Library in Northampton, Massachusetts. Booklist, in its starred review, praised Stinson’s novel as “An impressive chronicle conveying the intense spiritual yearnings that illuminate a colonial world of mud, disease, and fear.”

Over the past few months, Elizabeth Drescher continued writing her forthcoming book, Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones (Oxford, summer 2014). Research for a chapter on the ethical practices of Nones is sponsored in part by a Hackworth grant from the Markkula Center. Through the summer and fall, Drescher also delivered a number of lectures, workshops, and consultations across the country, including for the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians at Valparaiso University; The Center at BTS in Bar Harbor, Maine; and the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona. Bill Dohar is teaching graduate theology at JST-SCU for Fall Semester, 2013. In addition, he's been giving talks at Bay Area venues: a morning workshop on 'Spirituality and Aging' for the San Francisco Night Ministry (November 9) and 'Governance and Teaching Authority in Medieval Christianity' to the Stanford University Newman Nights (November 12). In September, he published an article, "The Pope's Gay Priests" at Religion Dispatches ( /archive/atheologies/7273/). In early October, James Bennett presented a paper titled “Neither Spiritual Nor Religious: The AntiCult Movement, Intolerance, and the Rhetoric of Non-Religious Religions,” at a conference on Religious Toleration in Newport, RI. October also saw the publication of an an article in Theology Today, entitled "Farewell to Faith: The Changing Role of Religion in Presidential Politics." The article is an expansion of the Bannan Institute Lecture he gave on the 2012 presidential election. “Allocating Resources — A Wicked Problem” by Margaret R. McLean was published in the NovemberDecember issue of Health Progress (Continued on Page 5)

Publisher’s Weekly picked up Spider in a Tree as one of its “Big Indie Books of Fall 2013.” The Publisher’s Weekly review noted that “Stinson restores personhood and complexity to figures who have shriveled into caricature.” In her note to the reader Stinson, suggests that entering Edwards’ language and thought “slows the modern mind and tongue.” Reviewers have promised that for readers willing to make that adjustment, the payoff is not just the recovered history but “the beautifully evoked sense of lives lived under the eye, not only of prying neighbors, but of God, with all the terror and possibility that entailed.” The noon event, which was sponsored by the Religious Studies Department in conjunction with the English Department and the American Studies Pathway, included a reading and a discussion of the complexities of religion, race and gender that the book explores.

Religious Studies Alum: Reza Aslan SCU Religious Studies alum Reza Aslan (1995) continues to garner attention as a public intellectual. In July 2013 he published Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Random House). Aslan’s publicity tour included several high profile interviews, including appearances on NPR’s “Fresh Air” and Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” However, it was an explosive interview on Fox News, conducted by religion reporter Lauren Green, that became an internet sensation. It drew unprecedented attention to Aslan and his book, including a stint at the top of the Amazon best-seller list. During the interview, Green pointed to Aslan’s Muslim identity as a challenge to his credentials to write a book about Jesus. Aslan responded by stressing his three degrees in Religious Studies. In the ensuing media storm, Aslan repeatedly emphasized his undergraduate degree in (Continued on Page 5)

5 Religious Studies, alongside his Master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School and a Ph.D. focusing on religion from UCSB, as crucial to his scholarly training.

(From page 4) and argues that resource allocation and treatment decisions are likely to be among the first ethical challenges in a disaster, and fairness demands that we get them right.

Reza Aslan ’95: A writer, scholar of religions and media entrepreneur In early October, Aslan returned to Santa Clara University for a conversation in Mayer Theater about his book and the Fox News interview. The event was moderated by Paul Crowley, S.J. and included well-received critical evaluations of Zealot by Religious Studies professors Catherine Murphy (New Testament) and David Pinault (Islam).

Faith and Sustainability in Silicon Valley: Sharing the Vision, Building Community and Taking Action rd,

On October 23 three Religious Studies professors—Teresia Hinga, David Gray and Philip Riley—convened a panel discussion on campus entitled “Faith and Sustainability in Silicon Valley: Sharing the Vision, Building Community and Taking Action.” This event sought to bring together the SCU campus community with representatives of local religious communities to discuss how we can work together to face the challenge posed by climate change.

The event began with a viewing of the documentary “Blue Gold: World Water Wars,” followed by an interfaith panel discussion featuring the following guest speakers: Betty Dickey, from Green Ministries/ United Methodist Church in San Jose; Emily Hsu, from the Ocean of Compassion Buddhist Center in Campbell; Eric Rosenblum, representing the Environmental Committee of the Jewish Community Relation Council of Silicon Valley; and Daniel Swid of 350 Silicon Valley. The discussion was led by Julia Claire Landry of Campus Ministry, who organized the Mission Sustainable Challenge held on campus for the month of October. This event, in fact, was the Mission Sustainable Challenge for October rd 23 . The event was attended by about thirty people from both the SCU campus and larger Silicon Valley communities.

Catherine Murphy gave two papers at the annual meeting of the AAR/SBL in Baltimore in November: "Feeding One's Citizens: The Symbolism of Grain Distribution in Luke-Acts and in Rome," and a review of Roland Boer's marxist analysis of the economy of ancient Israel. Both presentations tie to the new seminar she'll be offering in the winter, Redeeming Economics. She also took a day in Washington, D.C. to research a Dead Sea Scrolls manuscript she's been working on, since its first editor was on the faculty at Catholic University of America and his papers are stored in their archives. Janet Giddings, gave a paper titled, "Truly a Preacher: Religious ideas and themes in poems by the American poet Edwin Markham (1852-1940)” at the American Academy of Religion conference in Baltimore on November 25. She was also an Ethics Bowl Competition Judge at the California Regional Ethics Bowl, held at National Hispanic University on December 7. During the summer, Teresia Hinga th presented a paper at the 5 Pan African Meeting of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, South Africa. She also attended the Theological Colloquium on Church, Religion and Society In Africa, convened by Fr. Orobator at Hekima Jesuit Theological College in Nairobi, Kenya, where she both presented a paper and participated in a panel discussion in which African Theologians reflected on their journeys. Professor Hinga was a CoConvener for the Interfaith Panel entitled: Faith and Sustainability in Silicon Valley. Sharing the Vision, Building Community and Taking Action.

Santa Clara University Religious Studies Dept. 500 El Camino Real Santa Clara, CA 95053-0335


Alumni Updates

Religious Studies

John Michael Reyes (’09) I have graduated from the Jesuit School of Theology, a graduate school of Santa Clara University, this past May. I have accepted a position of ministry at Seattle University where I have served as the Campus Minister for Liturgy since July 1, 2013.

Perspectives would enjoy hearing what other alumni are up to or what they remember about their time with the department, as well. Email us at

Warren Wong (’09) I recall my very first religious studies class my first quarter at SCU was Professor Pinault's South Asian Traditions. Little did I know that the seemingly insignificant benefits of amazing weekly field trips would equip me professionally to work with multiple cultures from saying "what's up" in Punjabi to formally greeting Muslims. From knowing a little about Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism and Hinduism I learned in that first class, I now use much of that as a Evangelist for the Zoho Corporation where we do IT network management, cloud-based CRM and office suite software in over 180 countries with our core 1700 engineers located in Chennai, India.

Holiday Giving

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With all the holiday catalogs swirling through the mail forming drifts in mail boxes and overflowing onto the lawn, it is always worth remembering that our Department is where one studies "what really matters." If you can help one person get through the holidays, if you can find God in the glitter, if you can find peace in the noise, either for yourself or someone else, you will be a true student of "what really matters." Of course, many of you will give gifts of giving this year, that is, gifts to different charities in the name of family or friends. This is a great tradition. I should add that the department, too, uses gifts from our alumni/ae to help a new crop of students to enjoy the benefits of being a religious studies major or minor. It's a great way to give to those who train others to give. This might became a new tradition in your life. In any case, what matters is to find the peace of the season and share it widely. Peace to you all. -Gary Macy, Chair

Perspectives fall 2013