s brent plate

the home page of s brent rodriguez-plate

I'm a writer, public speaker, and college professor. My work starts with a basic question: What does it mean to be human? For me, this question is inseparable from the question: What makes humans religious?

Based on my experiences traveling and talking with people, observing and reading, parenting and partnering, my conclusions about human life, and religious life more specifically, come back to the important role of basic physical experiences: eating bread together, looking at images, smelling spices, listening to music, and touching other bodies. These are all sensually symbolic, meaningful activities that engage religious people, providing order and values for living, and, more often than not, a little disorder. 

Far from ideological arguments that pit theism against atheism, or science against faith, my writings and teachings constantly demonstrate how religion happens primarily in and through the body. I'm thoroughly undiscplined, reading around in cultural anthropology, art history, cognitive science, evolutionary biology, creative nonfiction, film and media studies, though I tend to graze most often in the field of religious studies.

I have conducted research and given lectures around the world, published more than a dozen books and over a hundred articles and essays, and taught at the Universities of Vermont and Colorado, Texas Christian University, and the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. Currently, I live in Madrid, Spain, and hold a visiting position at Hamilton College in New York. 

Along the way, I've spent time at an ashram in Vrindavan, India, the TaizĂ© community in France, an evangelical Christian retreat center in the mountains of Southern California, a Vietnamese Buddhist monastery in the Catskills, a two-week intensive seminar on Japanese gardens in Kyoto, and a four-week Fulbright seminar on visual culture in Germany. In the winter of 2016 I walked 750-kilometers of the Camino de Santiago.

Browse the other pages from this site to find out more.   

Full academic CV is available here (pdf).