Recent and upcoming events:
Madrid, Spain. 23 Jan '17 – Guest lecture on social documentary film in the MA program in Cine, Televisión y Medios Interactivos at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos.
Berlin, Germany. 9-19 Feb '17 – Juror for the Ecumenical Award at the 67th Berlinale.
Salisbury, England. 19-21 May '17 – Delivering the "Edward Bailey" Lecture at the Implicit Religion conference.
Madrid, Spain. 12 July '17 – Presentation on religious objects of Madrid for Stanford University in Spain program.
Hamilton, NY. 7 Sept '17 – "Finding Religion on the Erie Canal," at the Heretic's Club, Colgate University
Utica, NY. 13 Sept '17 – "Cinema and the Re-Creation of the World," at The Other Side.
Washington, DC. 14 Sept '17 – Presentation for the Public Scholars Project, "Religious Studies in Museums" at the Newseum.
Ithaca, NY. 3 Oct '17 – Presentation on "A History of Religion in 5 1/2 Objects" at Cornell University
Seoul, Korea. 13-14 Oct '17 – Presentations at "Books as Sacred Beings" conference, Seoul National University.
St Petersburg, Russia. 15-17 Nov '17 – Presentations at Museum of the History of Religions, and the St Petersburg Cultural Forum.
Boston, MA. 17-21 Nov '17 – Presentations at American Academy of Religion annual meeting.
Fort Worth, TX. 21 Feb '18 – The Coerver Lecture at TCU.
Boulder, CO. July-August '18 – FIRST Scholar at CU-Boulder.
Uppsala, Sweden. 28-30 Sept '18 – The International Society for Religion, Literature and Culture biennial conference. Presenting and organizing sessions on "Material Religion."
Busan, South Korea. 31 Oct - 2 Nov. – Presentation at the World Humanities Forum.
I'm a writer, public speaker, editor, 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, parenting and partnering, observing and reading, my understandings of human life turn around the central role of simple 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 communities of 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 show how religion is born of the body. I'm thoroughly undiscplined, reading around in cultural anthropology & creative nonfiction, art history & cognitive science, evolutionary biology & film 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 fifteen 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 hold a visiting position at Hamilton College in New York.
Along the way, I've spent time at an ashram in Vrindavan, India; the Taizé 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.