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Spring Semester 2019

Friday,  January 25th, 12:00pm

Religious Studies Spring Semester Welcome Reception

B243 Wells Hall

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Radically Happy:  A User's Guide to the Mind

Sponsored by the Religious Studies student group: Religion Exploration Club

Sunday, October 28th, 4pm

Riverside Room, Kellogg Center


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Friday, September 14th, 12:00pm

B243 Wells Hall

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“Reincarnation in America”  with Dr. Lee Irwin

Thursday, March 22nd, 7:00pm

N022 Business College Complex

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"Test of Faith: Signs, Serpents, Salvation" with Lauren Pond

Monday, February 26th, 4:00pm

A118 Wells Hall



Religious Studies Welcome Reception

Hear about our new student group- RELIGION EXPLORATION CLUB

Friday, January 26th, 12:00pm

B-342 Wells Hall

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"Religion, Ethics, and Climate Change" with  Dr. Jonathan Brockopp

Wednesday, January 17th, 7:00pm

303 International Center




“Psychedelics, Art, and the Study of Consciousness” with Dr. Christopher Bache

Thursday, October 26th, 7:00pm

Location: N022 Business College Complex

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Dr. Nyasha Junior, author of An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation 

Wednesday, October 11th, 4:30pm

B342 Wells 




"Gospel Thrillers: Fear, Desire, and the U.S. Bible" with Dr. Andrew Jacobs 

Monday, October 16th, 4:30pm

B342 Wells Hall




Department of Religious Studies's Welcome Reception

Learn about new opportunities for you with MSU’s new Social Innovation Entrepreneurship minor and the Nonprofit Leadership Concentration, and talk with fellow Religious Studies students as well as faculty over pizza and refreshments!

Friday, September 22nd, 12:00pm

B342 Wells Hall

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Friday, April 14th, 9:00am

Religious Studies Undergraduate Research Conference

MSU Museum Auditorium

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Wednesday, April 5th, 7:00pm

Kellogg Center Auditorium 



The Michigan State University Muslim Studies Program Presents the 10th Annual Conference on:

"Islam, Muslims, and Contemporary American Politics"

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Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

"Evangelicalism and the Rise of the Christian Publishing Industry"

Daniel Vaca

A226 Wells Hall, 4:30pm


Wednesday, March 22nd, 4:30pm

“Hindu Devotional Universalisms in 19th-century Bengal.”

Abhishek Ghosh

A122 Wells Hall


Tuesday, March 14th. 12:00pm

"Neither Male Nor Female; Evangelicals, HB2, and Trans Rights in Post-Obergefell America"

with Dr. Amy DeRogatis

B-342 Wells Hall




"Translation, Mysterious Others and Transference: Religious Subjectifications from the Experience of the Northeast Japan Disaster"

Wednesday, 01 March 1st, 4:00pm

303 International Center

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Friday, January 27th, 12:00pm

"Race, Religion, and Immigration in America Today" 

303 International Center

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Transnational East Asia Colloquium

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Friday, January 20th, 12:00pm

Religious Studies Welcome Reception  

B342 Wells Hall


Thursday, January 26th, 7:00pm

Prof. Bart Ehrman, "Did the Early Christians Forget Jesus?"

B116 Wells Hall




Thursday, October 12th, 4:00pm

305 International Center

Omens and Monsters in Heian Japan (and What To Do About Them)

Professor Kristina Burhman (Florida State University)

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Thursday, November 10th, 7pm

303 International Center

"Rethinking Muslim Ethics"

Co-Sponsored with Muslim Studies

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Friday, April 22nd, 9:30-12:00pm

Department of Religious Studies Undergraduate Student Research Conference


MSU Museum, 2nd floor auditorium

The Department of Religious Studies offers a broad range of classes from which students can tailor their specific interests. Come hear some of our Spartans, along with some special guests from Kalamazoo College and WMU, discuss their current research!


Saturday, April 16th, 2:00pm

125th Anniversary Event for Dr. BR Ambedkar

B122 Wells Hall



Thursday April 7th, 7:00pm

Jason Bivins, "Spirits Rejoice! Jazz and American Religion."

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Wednesday March 30th, 7:30pm

Jenny Boyd, “Taking the Journey within: The True Expression of Creativity"

B115 Wells Hall


Wednesday, March 16th 7:00pm

David Gordon White, “Yoga, Tantra and Transactions with Demons"

115 International Center 

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Monday. February 29th, 7pm

Phakchok Rinpoche, “The Rhythm of Happiness,” 

1279 Anthony Hall



Monday February 15th, 4:00pm

"Boxing and Religion" with Dr. Amy Koehlinger

A220 Wells Hall


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Thursday February 11th, 4:00pm

Shreen Gandhi (Assistant Prof. at K-College), “Rethinking the Secular through Yoga”

A201 Wells Hall

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Tuesday, Febuary 2nd, 6:00pm

"Pope Francis' US Visit: Papal, Populist, Policital"

1279 Anthony Hall

Featuring: Ann Mongoven. Chris Frilingos, Gretel Van Wieren, Gene Burns and Katie Diller

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Tuesday, February 2nd, 7:00pm

"The Rise of Islan in a Judeo-Christian Context"

303 International Center

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Friday, January 29th, 10:00am

David Stowe- "Song of Exile: The Endiring Mystery of Psalm 137" 

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Friday, January 29th, 12:00pm-1:00pm

The Department Welcome Reception featuring Robert Ashcraft 

B342 Wells Hall

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Friday, January 15th, 3:30-5:00pm 

Islamophobia & American Politics

303 International Center

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Deborah Margolis of MSU Libraries is organizing another Muslim Journeys book club with five meetings spread out over the 2015-16 school year and a showing of the film Persepolis. Here are the dates:

Wednesday, October 21, 7:00 pm, at ELPL with Dr. Mohammad Khalil

Wednesday, November 18, 7:00 pm, at MSU Library with Dr. Jyotsna Singh

Wednesday, January 20, 7:00 pm, at MSU Library with Dr. Salah Hassan

Wednesday, February 17, 7:00 pm, at MSU Library with Dr. Emine Evered

Thursday, February 25, 8:00 pm, B122 Wells, showing of "Persepolis"

Wednesday, March 16, 7:00 pm, at ELPL with Leila Tarakji 


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You're invited to participate in a new Muslim Journeys series.  If you are interested in an introduction to Islam and the Qur'an, attend the first session on October 21 with Dr. Mohammad Khalil (Department of Religious Studies).

Learn more about the experiences of Muslims in this new scholar-led book group, beginning with an introduction to the Qur'an and its place in the lives of Muslims.  Then we'll read four memoirs exploring the authors' paths in countries including Egypt, France, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey and the United States.  Each session will start with a short lecture, followed by facilitated book discussion, and finishing with a question and answer period.

This series is free and open to the public. Drop-in for one or attend all five sessions, no sign-up required.

Third Wednesdays in October, November, January, February and March, at 7pm.

October 21: The Story of the Qur'an by Ingrid Mattson, led by Dr. Mohammad Khalil at East Lansing Public Library

November 18:  Istanbul: Memories and the City by Orhan Pamuk, led by Dr. Jyotsna Singh at MSU Main Library

January 20: House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East by Anthony Shadid, led by Dr. Salah Hassan at MSU Main Library

February 17: Persepolis: The Story of A Childhood (graphic novel) by Marjane Satrapi, led by Dr. Emine Evered at MSU Main Library

March 16: The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson, led by Leila Tarakji at East Lansing Public Library

For more information, contact MSU Muslim Studies librarian Deborah Margolis 517-884-0892, or Jill Abood, Head of Programs & Outreach, East Lansing Public Libraryjabood@cityofeastlansing.com 517-319-6939.



Tuesday December 1st, 7:00pm

B100 Wells Hall

The Challenge of Regulating Religion in Contemporaty India

Dr. Kaori Hatsumi (St. Mary's College)




Friday, December 4th, 10:00am-11:30am

B-342 Wells Hall

Ilan Fuchs, University of Michigan

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November 2, 2015, 7:00 pm

Dr. Aomar Boum will discuss Muslim-Jewish relations in Morocco

303 International Center


Thursday, November 5th, 2015


RCAH Theater, Snyder-Phillips Hall






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Friday, November 6th

11:00 am

NatSci Room 204


October 8, 2015 7:00pm

Monica Weis Monk, Mystic & Prophet: The Expanding Vision of Thomas Merton

Ballroom in the MSU Union Building (2nd floor)


Friday, October 9th, 2015, 10:00-11:30am

B342 Wells Hall

"Deploying Race Against Assimilation: Horace Kallen Confronts Jews and America" 

Professor Matthew Kaufman

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Monday, Octover 12, 7:00pm 303 International Center

Dr. Amy DeRogatis (MSU) and Dr. Sara Moslener (CMU): Give Me Sex Jesus 



Fall 2015 Asian Studies Colloquium

Muslim Communities in India and South Asia


September 17, 2015, 4:10 – 5:30 pm

Azfar Moin (University of Texas, Austin) 'Sacred Kingship and Ritual Violence: A Comparison across Islam and Hinduism'
303 International Center


October 10, 2015, 4:10 – 5:30 pm

Anand Taneja (Vanderbilt) 'The Small Voices of History: Rekhti Poetry, A Dargah amongst Ruins, and Letters written to Jinns’

 Wells Hall A-108


October 20, 2015, 4:10 – 5:30 pm

Syed Nomanul Haq (Institute of Business Administration, Karachi) 'Image of the Divine in Sindhi Folk Tales and Sufi Poetry’

303 International Center

(reception likely to follow)


October 29, 2015, 4:10 – 5:30 pm

SherAli Tareen (Franklin and Marshall) 'Contesting Tradition in Modern South Asian Islam'

Wells Hall A-108


November 5, 2015, 4:10 – 5:30 pm

William Elison (Dartmouth) 'Purdah, Poets, Parody: The Image of the Muslim in Amar Akbar Anthony’

Wells Hall A-108


November 12, 2015, 4:10 – 5:30 pm

Manan Ahmed Asif (Columbia) ' Founding Nation, Founding History: Pakistan and the Origins of Islam in South Asia’

Wells Hall A-108



A. Azfar Moin 

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, University of Texas, Austin)


Azfar Moin received a Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and taught South Asian history at Southern Methodist University prior to joining UT-Austin. Prof. Moin studies the history of the pre-modern Islamic world from comparative perspectives with a focus on concepts and practices of sovereignty. His book The Millennial Sovereign: Sacred Kingship and Sainthood in Islam won the Best First Book in the History of Religions Award from the American Academy of Religion, John F. Richards Prize in South Asian History from the American Historical Association, and Honorable Mention for the Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize (South Asia) from the Association for Asian Studies. His current project, for which he received a Postdoctoral Fellowship for Transregional Research from the Social Science Research Council, focuses on ritual violence and kingship in late medieval and early modern Iran, Central Asia, and South Asia. Prof. Moin teaches courses on religious transformations in the early modern Islamic world, rituals and practice of sovereignty in Islam, and theory and method in the study of religion.


Anand Taneja

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Vanderbilt University


A historically informed anthropologist working on Islam in urban South Asia, Prof. Taneja’s research interests include historical and contemporary Islam and inter-faith relations in South Asia, the anthropology of religion, everyday life and post-colonial urbanism, and Bombay cinema. A persistent line of inquiry in his academic work has been thinking about Islam in South Asia as not just a religious identity, but shorthand, as it were, for a whole complex of ethical orientations and remembered ways of being linked to the pre-colonial past. His current work focuses on the ritual practices, dream-lives, and shared social worlds that the Balmiki, Gujjar, Kasai and other native communities of Delhi have built around medieval ruins like the citadel of Firoz Shah Kotla, where people deposit photocopies of letters addressed to saintly jinn (superhuman spirits). His book-project, The Sacred as History: Presencing the Past in the Medieval Ruins of Delhi, focuses on a broader idea of religion that is shared across the confessional divides of Hindu and Muslim. These ethical orientations toward self and world are linked to pre-modern notion of justice, the valuation of dreams and visions as fundamentally truth-bearing, and an understanding of nature as being inherently miraculous and merciful. Along with ethnographic work, he has also worked in several government archives, as well as working with 19th and 20th century religious, antiquarian and literary texts in Urdu that dwell on Delhi’s ruins.


Syed Nomanul Haq

Professor and Advisor, Social Science and Liberal Arts, Institute of Business Administration, Karachi


Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Syed Nomanul Haq is an international scholar and intellectual historian of Pakistani origin noted especially for his contributions to the fields of Islamic history and Islamic philosophy. He is currently a faculty member at the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi. In his career spanning twenty years, Haq has gained widespread repute for his teaching, publications and editorial and research work on the history and philosophy of science, postmodern philosophy, history of religion, history of art and history of literature, for which he has won multiple prizes and awards. His visit is funded by a grant from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies.


SherAli Tareen: Islam and the Ethics of Authenticity in South Asia

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Franklin and Marshall College


Abstract: Contesting Tradition in Modern South Asian Islam

 What are the limits of innovation (bid‘a) to the normative model of the Prophet? This is a fundamental ethical question that has captured the imagination of Muslim thinkers for several centuries. Bid‘a refers to novel unsanctioned practices that oppose the prophetic norm. But what are those practices and how should that be decided are questions that generate tremendous controversy. This talk examines polemics over this critical ethical question among the pioneers of two major Muslim reform movements in South Asia: the Deobandis and the Barelvis. By describing the logics through which these scholars contested the boundaries of tradition, this talk questions the tendency to approach such moments of intra-Muslim debates as expressions of an innate antagonism between law and Sufism in Islam.

SherAli Tareen received his PhD in Islamic Studies from Duke University. His work is on Muslim reform movements in colonial India. He is currently writing a monograph entitled “Islam and the Ethics of Authenticity: Tradition, Reform, and Innovation” that examines intra-Muslim polemics on questions of law and theology in 18th and 19th century India.


William Elison

Senior Lecturer of Religion, Dartmouth College

 William Elison studies religion and visual culture in India, and his work centers on an ongoing program of fieldwork research in the streets, slums, and movie studios of Mumbai.  In common with many other scholars of religion, he is interested in “social fictions”—in ideas, images, and stories that mediate the experience of everyday life. His  own emphasis has been on visual media that relate the experience of socially and spatially marginalized residents of Mumbai to sources of power and glamor. For example, devotional images or “idols”; government documents; and popular cinema. In Neighborhood of Gods: The Sacred and the Visible at the Margins of Mumbai (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming) looks at sites where members of the city’s underclass—some Hindu, some non-Hindu, and some whose identity is under negotiation—have used religious images and symbols to mark space. As an expert in Islamciate Bombay, he has also collaborated with Andy Rotman of Smith College and Christian Novetzke of the University of Washington on a book about Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), a landmark of Hindi popular cinema and a mine of historically resonant tropes of religious, national, and gender identity. “Amar Akbar Anthony”: Bollywood, Brotherhood, and the Allegory of the Nation will be released in fall 2015 by Harvard University Press.


Manan Ahmed Asif

Assistant Professor of History, Columbia University

 Manan Ahmed Asif is interested in the relationship between text, space and narrative. His work on Islam’s arrival to Sindh in the 8th century traces the longue durée history of contestations among varied communities in South Asia. His areas of specialization include political and cultural history of Islam in South and Southeast Asia, frontier-spaces and the city in medieval South Asia, imperial and colonial historiography, and philology. He is involved in Digital Humanities projects - especially with visualizing space in medieval texts and texualizing medieval and early-modern maps. Ahmed is currently working on a study of the early 13th century account of Uch, Sind.

February 11th, 7:00pm

Location: TBD

Rethinking the Secular through Yoga presented by Shreena Gandhi


Cosponsored Events [with the Muslim Studies Program]


September 30, 2015, 6:30 pm

Dr.  Zeki Saritoprak (John Carroll Univ.), Islam’s Jesus

303 International Center


October 7, 2015, 4:00pm

Theodore J. Cachey Jr., Dante's Cosmology in Context

B-310 Wells Hall 


Friday, October 9, 10:00–11:30 am

Wells Hall B-342

Jewish Studies Faculty and Student Research Seminar

“Deploying Race against Assimilation: Horace Kallen Confronts Jews and America”

Matthew Kaufman, Department of Religious Studies, MSU

One of the most pressing questions for America in the first two decades of the twentieth century was the question of how to assimilate the millions of immigrants into American society. The classic symbol of the “melting pot” was created at this time. Horace Kallen, an American Jewish philosopher who coined the term “cultural pluralism,” felt a profound need to counter assimilationist trends in American Jewish society, and vigorously defended a racialized view of Jewish culture to promote an inclusive and pluralist social vision. Through an analysis of Kallen’s racial ideas and his confrontations in the press, Kaufman will show how early twentieth century race science functioned as a tool for an academic to compete with rabbis for social and cultural authority. Co-sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies.


Sunday, October 18, 1:00–11:00 pm

Wells Hall B-122

11th Annual MSU Israeli Film Festival

Marc Bernstein, film festival coordinator

Co-sponsored by the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, the University Activities Board, the Department of Religious Studies, and others.


1:00 pm    Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem (2014), directed by Shlomi and Ronit Elkabetz

An Israeli woman seeking to finalize a divorce (gett) from her estranged husband finds herself effectively put on trial by her country’s religious marriage laws in this powerhouse courtroom drama. Academy Awards 2015—Official Foreign Language Submission from Israel; 2015 Academy Awards—Best Foreign Language Film Nominee, 2015 Golden Globe Awards nominee; Official Selection Cannes Film Festival 2014—Directors' Fortnight Feature Competition; Winner, 2014 Israeli Film Academy Ophir Award—Best Film.
(drama, 115 minutes)


3:30 pm    Paris on the Water (2014), directed by Hadas Ayalon

The story of a passionate woman, Batya, who is trapped in a sick body and is forced to confront her age, her husband, and the reality of her life. Batya is a former film star who feels that her life is finally about to change. After years of frustration she is offered a part in a movie, but something happens the morning of the audition that forces her to reexamine her priorities in life. Winner, Student Academy Award for Best Foreign Film; Best Short Film, Israeli Academy Awards; Best Up-and-Coming Director, San Marino Festival.

(drama, 29 minutes)


4:30 pm   Next to Her (2014), directed by Asaf Korman

Twenty-seven year-old Chelli is raising her mentally disabled sister Gabby all by herself. When the social worker finds out she leaves her sister alone in the house while at work, Chelli is forced to place Gabby in a day-care center, and the void left by her sister's absence makes room for a man in her life. That man, Zohar, tears another crack in the symbiotic relationship of the two sisters.

(drama, 90 minutes)


6:00–7:00 pm          Free dinner catered by Woody’s for those attending the films.


7:00 pm   African Exodus (2014),directed by Brad Rothschild

Seeking safety and asylum, some 60,000 Africans have fled to Israel over the past decade. The country, founded as a haven for persecuted Jews in the aftermath of the Holocaust, has no policy, infrastructure, or political will to handle this wave of migrants. The film explores the African refugee issue from the context of how Israel, a tiny country established as a haven for Jews from around the world, is handling an influx of non-Jewish refugees. The documentary talks with immigration experts and UN officials, as well as Israeli NGOs, to understand the different approaches being taken to handle this new and unexpected wave of migration. The film also offers suggested solutions to prevent this issue from becoming a full-fledged humanitarian crisis.

Director Brad Rothschild will introduce his film and lead discussion afterward.

(documentary, 71 minutes)

Monday, October 19, 8:00-10:00 pm

Wells Hall B-122

11th Annual MSU Israeli Film Festival


8:00 pm   A Borrowed Identity (2014), directed by Fran Riklis 

Gifted Eyad, a Palestinian Israeli village teen, is given the chance to go to a prestigious Jewish boarding school in Jerusalem.  As he desperately tries to fit in with his Jewish schoolmates and within Israeli society, Eyad develops a friendship with another outsider, Jonathan, a boy suffering from MS, and falls in love with Naomi. Eyad faces a choice that will change his life forever. Based on the novel by Sayed Kashua, who also wrote the screenplay. Israeli Academy Award Nominations: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Art Direction, Best Sound.

(drama, 104 minutes)


September 10, 2015, 7:00 pm

Dr. Michael Martin Sophia, Sophiology, and Poetry 

A226 Wells Hall


October 1, 2015, 7:00 pm

Dr. Brian C. Wilson Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and the National Eugenics Movement

A126 Wells Hall 


October 1st, 5:00-7:00pm

MSU Museum

Quilts of Southwest China

The MSU Museum is showing their newest exbit where you can learn more about related international and cross-culture reseach along with welcoming The Department of Religious Studies Assistant Professor Jon Keune. 





Thursday, January 29 – 4 p.m., A134 Wells Hall

Isaac Weiner is assistant professor of religious studies in the comparative studies department at the Ohio State University. His research concentrates on religious pluralism and its implications for American public life, with interests in American religious history, sensory studies, and theory and method in the study of religion.

He is the author of Religion Out Loud: Religious Sound, Public Space, and American Pluralism (NYU, 2014). 




Monday February 9, 7:00-8:30 pm., 115 CIP International Center, MSU

New Religions come and go, but some persist and become major global forces. In this presentation, Professor Taylor presents evidence that, especially since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, a new, global, earth religion has been rapidly spreading around the world. Whether it involves conventional religious beliefs in non-material divine beings, or is entirely naturalistic and involves no such beliefs, it considers nature to be sacred, imbued with intrinsic value, and worthy of reverent care. Those having affinity with such spirituality generally have strong feelings of belonging to nature, express kinship with non-human organisms, and understand the world to be deeply interconnected. In a recent book Taylor labeled such phenomena ‘dark green religion’, noting that its central ethical priority is to defend the earth’s biocultural diversity. Taylor provides a wide variety of examples of new forms of religious (and religion-resembling) cultural innovation among those promoting such nature spirituality, from individuals (including artists, scientists, filmmakers, photographers, surfers, and environmental activists), to institutions (including museums, schools, and the United Nations). By tracking these, Taylor provides an opportunity to consider what such spirituality may portend for the religious and planetary future.

Bron Taylor is Professor of Religion, Nature and Environmental Ethics at The University of Florida. He is also a Carson Fellow of the Rachel Carson Center (at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munchen), and an Affiliated Scholar with the Center for Environment and Development at Oslo University. Professor Taylor’s central scholarly interest and personal passion is the conservation of the earth’s biological diversity and how human cultures might evolve rapidly enough to arrest and reverse today’s intensifying environmental and social crises. 

Co-sponsored by the Timnick Chair in the Humanities in the Department of Philosophy, and the Hanover Forest Science Seminar Series, Department of Forestry, Michigan State University.


Ellen Gough (Yale University) spoke on

The Tantric Initiation of a Jain Monk

Thursday, January 15, 4pm, Wells A134 


Jon Keune (University of Houston) spoke on

The Positively Instructive Other: Hindu Devotional Uses of Muslims and Untouchables in Western India

Tuesday, January 20, 1pm, Bessey 304.


Anand Venkatkrishnan (Columbia University) spoke on

The Chronicle of Hired Education: Self-Interested Scholarship and Religious Rhetoric in Early Modern India

Thursday, January 22, 4pm, Wells A134




Dr. Sara Ahbel-Rappe presented

"Socrates' Esoteric Disclosure in the Apology: A Comparative Religions Approach"

Thursday, November 20th, 2014 at 4 pm in A218 Wells Hall

Co-sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Romance and Classical Studies.


Dr. Ahbel-Rappe's work concerns the history of Platonism, from the Sokratikoi Logoi of the fourth century BCE to the last scholarch of the late Athenian Platonic Academy, Damascius. It also includes study of the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic interpreters of Platonism.

Her book Reading Neoplatonism (Cambridge University Press, 2000) was a survey of Neoplatonic textual and contemplative methods. Neoplatonism, the most influential philosophical movement of the Roman Empire, combined metaphysical speculation on the esoteric meanings of Plato’s dialogues with a contemplative vision of reality. Her work uses philosophical structures to expound and expand the dimensions of inner experience.  She is also the translator of a monumental work of religious philosophy by the late Platonic philosopher Damascius.


Stephen Prothero presented

"Religious Literacy: Why It's Vital to Understand Religious Diversity in America"

Thursday, October 16th, 7:00pm in the Kellogg Center Auditorium 

past_events3.jpgFeatured on CNN, NBC, MSNBC, FOX and PBS, as well as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report - Stephen Prothero, professor in the Department of Religion at Boston University, is a world renowned scholar of Religion. He is also the author of God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World—and Why Their Differences Matter & the New York Times Bestseller Religious Literacy: What Americans Need to Know and the editorial consultant for PBS series God in America.

Co-Sponsored by the Michigan State University Office of the Provost, the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, Institute for the Study of Christianity and Culture, Michigan State University Outreach and Engagement, and the College of Arts & Letters

Click here for the event flyer


Professor Amy DeRogatis presents 

“The Bible in the Bedroom: American Evangelicals, Sexuality and Salvation”

Friday, September 2, 2:00-3:30PM, 303 International Center

Amy DeRogatis is Associate Professor of Religion and American Culture at MSU. She has received national recognition for excellence in undergraduate teaching of Religious Studies. DeRogatis’ first book: Moral Geography: Maps, Missionaries and the American Frontier (Columbia, 2003) has been reviewed in Religious Studies and American History journals. She is the author of numerous essays on religion and American culture. Saving Sex: Sexuality and Salvation in American Protestantism, will be published this fall (NY: Oxford University Press, 2014).

 Click here for the Event Flyer


Department Fall Open House

Friday, September 19th, 12:00pm-1:30pm in room C-707 on the 7th Floor of Wells Hall

Come and meet the wonderful students and faculty of the Religious Studies Department, while ringing in the new academic year!

We invite all students interested in and currently enrolled in Religious Studies to come share free pizza and drinks with our faculty!



Tuesday, September 16th, 7:00 pm, in Room S105 South Kedzie Hall

Done in conjunction with Campus Interfaith Council's Religious Awareness Week

Come hear some fascinating lectures from a professor of the Religious Studies Department as well as a professional in our community who are changing our ideas about belief, the world, & ourselves. 

Speakers include - Bobby Smiley on "Popular Cultures, Religion, & Digital Humanities"; and Arthur Versluis on "Fake Religions in Popular Culture."





A free showing of the acclaimed film Pan's Labyrinth directed by Guillermo del Toro

Tuesday, September 16th, 7:00 pm, in Room S105 South Kedzie Hall

Introduced and followed by brief discussion with Dr. Malcolm Magee


Dr. Mathias Guenther (Wilfred Laurier University) on "A New Look at Animism"

Thursday, April 17, 2014, 4 p.m., in A-108 Wells Hall

Author of Tricksters and Trancers: Bushman Religion and Society (Indiana UP)

Animism is one of the ways in which humans conceive of their relationship to non-humans. Along with totemism, animism is the ontology of hunter-gatherers, for instance, Amazonian and sub-Arctic Indians, Siberian reindeer hunters and herders, and African hunter-gatherers like the San. Dr. Guenther's lecture will focus on the animism of the San.


The Religious Studies Undergraduate Student Research Conference

Friday, 11 April, 2014, 10-11:45 a.m, MSU Museum Auditorium

Co-sponsored by the MSU Museum

Featuring: Lauren Link: “Christianity on the Modern American Campus;” David Carlisle: “The Wander and the Wanderer: The Buddhist Compromise of the Self;” Amazona Mandingueira: “Taínos: Caribbindian Society and Spirituality;” Julia Johnson: “Animism, Animals, and Agriculture: Animal Husbandry in Nineteenth Century Shaker Religious Practice;” Elizabeth Robins: "Disparate Views of Interfaith Marriage in Islam;" and The Micah Zylstra Players: “The Quest For the Divine: Who, What and Where? A Competition between Three Philosophers”

Followed by a catered lunch from Cosi's! 


Join us for our film series beginning April 9, 2014, with American Mystic, a highly acclaimed documentary!


The Smith Family (originally to be shown April 2) has been cancelled for this semester - our apologies for the inconvenience.



Thursday, April 3, 2014 • 7:00 p.m. Main Library North Conference Room, W449

MSU Libraries Colloquia Series Event

Co-sponsors: Department of Religious Studies and Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures

University of Michigan Professor of Classical Studies Arthur Verhoogt and Michigan State University Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies Robert Anderson will speak about the UM’s digital papyri collection and MSU’s digital Samaritan Manuscripts.

Joining Dr. Anderson will be William Hart-Davidson, Associate Professor of MSU’s Writing, Rhetoric, and American Culture and Jim Ridolfo, Assistant Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies at University of Kentucky.

The UM Papyrology collection and MSU Libraries’ Chamberlain Warren Samaritan Collection are both the largest of their kind in the United States, and both contain materials that are strongly connected to different versions of the Bible. This talk will feature and demonstrate how these scholars have created and implemented digital applications that make possible new ways of understanding and communicating with biblical texts that come from the world over.

Robert Anderson, professor emeritus of religious studies at MSU (center), intreprets text from one of the Pentateuchs [held in the MSU Libraries Special Collections] for WIDE research center’s Jim Ridolfo (seated) and William Hart-Davidson. Photo by G.L. Kohuth. MSU News Special Report “Sacred Samaritan Texts: Building community and expanding access” (http://special.news. msu.edu/scrolls).


Kristy L. Slominski on "An American Religious History of Public Sex Education."

Monday April 7 2014, 12:40-2 PM, 134 Brody

Ph.D. Candidate, University of California, Santa Barbara


Dr. Mohammad Khalil on “The Fate of Non-Muslims in the Afterlife: Contemporary Debates in Islamic Thought”

Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 7:00 pm, MSU Main Library, North Conference Room (W449)

Cosponsored by the MSU Muslim Studies Program.  In conjunction with Let's Talk About It: Muslim Journeys, National Endowment for the Humanities and American Library Association.
Dr. Khalil will lecture on the topic of non-Muslim salvation/damnation in Islamic thought, focusing on contemporary debates. Dr. Khalil is author of Islam and the Fate of Others: The Salvation Question (Oxford University Press, 2012) and editor of Between Heaven and hell: Islam, Salvation, and the Fate of Others (Oxford University Press, 2013). Light refreshments will be served.  Free and open to the public; no registration required. 


Religious Studies Undergraduate Student Research Conference

April 11, 2014, 9:30-1:30 p.m., MSU Museum Auditorium

Join us to hear undergraduate students from MSU, Kalamazoo College, and other institutions give short presentations on different subjects in the academic study of religion.

Refreshments provided!



Thursday, 27 March 2014, 7 p.m.  CIP 115 [International Center]

In this talk, Dr. Wallace will critique scientific materialism, and present an approach to understanding the nature of consciousness that integrates scientific with religious empiricism.

 Click here for a pdf flyer for Dr. Wallace's talk

Dynamic lecturer, well-known scholar, and one of the most prolific writers on and translators of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, B. Alan Wallace, Ph.D., continually seeks innovative ways to integrate Buddhist contemplative practices with Western science to advance the study of the mind. Dr. Wallace holds an undergraduate degree in physics and the philosophy of science from Amherst College and a doctorate in Religious Studies from Stanford University.  He is author of numerous books on the science of consciousness, including Hidden Dimensions: The Unification of Physics and Consciousness (Columbia UP, 2007), Contemplative Science: Where Buddhism and Neuroscience Converge(Columbia UP, 2009), and many others.

Cosponsored by ASMSU and Campus Interfaith Council 


Dr Wallace will present 


Friday, 28 March 2014, 10 a.m. MSU Union UB50 [Lake Ontario Room] 

In this workshop, Dr. Wallace will discuss contemporary forms of mindfulness practice and present a radically empirical approach to meditation in a secular context.

Sponsored by ASMSU and Campus Interfaith Council as part of Religious Awareness Week


Religious Studies Graduate School Information Session: Advice and Help
Featuring: Dr. Mohammad Khalil, Dr. Chris Frilingos, and MSU Librarian Bobbie Smiley (MA, Religious Studies, Yale U)

Tuesday, March 18 from 3-4 p.m, C742 Wells Hall

The session will include three 15-minute segments: 1) Overview of grad school in REL (programs, experience, options for degree), 2) Discussion of the application process (due dates, letters of recommendation, essays, financial aid, and 3) Discussion of the merits of a terminal M.A. in REL and career options beyond becoming a professor. The last segment will be led by Mr. Bobby Smiley, digital humanities librarian at MSU and M.A. in Religious Studies from Yale.


Dr. Evyatar Marienberg on “And They Shall Become One Flesh:  The History of Traditional Jewish Sexual Guidance.” 

Thursday 20 March 2014, 4-6 PM, B122 Wells Hall

Assistant professor, UNC-Chapel Hill


Dr. Norman Wirzba (Duke) will speak on agrarianism, religion, and bioethics entitled “The Grace of Good Food and the Spirituality of Eating”

Thursday, Mar. 20, 2014  7 p.m.  CIP 115 [International Center] 


Dr. Brett Esaki on "The Oriental Monk and Oriental Conjurer: Male Sexuality of Pop-Culture Icons of Asian Religions."

Monday February 24, 2014, 12:40-2 PM, 134 Brody

Postdoctoral Teaching Associate, Central Michigan University, spoke on


Dr. Nawaraj Chaulagain on"Swords and Seedlings: Ritual Installation and Execution in a Hindu World"

Tuesday, February 4, 4pm, A 216 Wells Hall

Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Religion, Illinois Wesleyan University 


Arthi Devarajan on "Moving Differently:  Dance, Embodied Practices, and Interpretive Difference in Transnational Hinduism"

Monday, January 27, 4pm, Wells Hall, A124

Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy and Religion, Northeastern University 


Religious Studies Career Resource Fair and Social

January 29 2014, noon to 2 p.m., Wells Hall B-Wing Atrium

With representatives from non-profits, alumni, faculty members, and career advisors!
Meet fellow students, faculty members, and others at our spring social event -

Food and refreshments provided! 


Dr.  Patton Burchett on "Bhakti 'Religion,' Tantric 'Magic,' and the Work of Comparison: Issues and Insights in the Historiography of Religion in North India"

Thursday, Jan. 23,2014, Wells Hall A136, 4 p.m.





Dr. Ann Mongoven on “Why Public Health Needs Religious Studies”

Wednesday, November 20 at 7:00 pm, A-124 Wells Hall

Come hear Dr. Ann Mongoven speak about how public health issues can be illuminated by an informed understanding of religions in America.  She also will speak about the value of understanding religion and religious diversity for careers in medicine and public health.  Dr. Mongoven is author of Just Love: Transforming Civic Virtue (Indiana UP).

co-sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences, the Program in Public Health, and Pediatrics at Michigan State University



Prof. Scott Appleby, Professor of History, and John M. Regan, Jr. Director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies on “A GLOBAL AGENDA FOR AMERICAN CATHOLICISM”

Thursday, October 24th at 7:00pm,  MSU Union, Ballroom,  2nd. floor.

University of Notre Dame

Light refreshments begin at 6:30


College of Arts & Letters, St. John Church and Catholic Student Center, and The Institute for the Study of Christianity and Culture.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 4:00 pm (Refreshments at 3:50 pm), Room 225 Natural Resources

School of Environment and Natural Resources

The Ohio State University

Sponsors - A Department of Forestry Hanover Seminar

Co-sponsors - the Department of Religious Studies 



Wed., October 16 2013 at 7 pm, B-122 Wells Hall

Lehigh University



September 19th at 3:00 pm, A126 Wells Hall

Institute of Native American Studies, Department of Religion at the The University of Georgia

"The Red Atlantic" is Dr. Weaver's attempt to re‐center

Atlantic world history on the indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere. Christianity was a major European import across the Atlantic to Natives. This talk will outline Dr. Weaver's concept and then examine the impact of three Spanish priests: Bartolome de Las Casas and the lesser known Vasco de Quiroga and Alonso de la Vera Cruz.

Conversation and refreshments follow the event at  4pm

Sponsored By:

American Indian Studies Program • Indigenous Law & Policy Center• Department of Writing • Rhetoric & American Cultures • Residential College in the Arts & Humanities • African American & African Studies Program • Native American Institute



Friday, September 13 at 3:00pm, 115 International Center. Michigan State University

A Panel Discussion With:

Prof. Juan Cole - University of Michigan

Prof. Mohammed Ayoob - Michigan State University

Prof. Asaad Al-Saleh - University of Utah

& Prof. Abdalmajid Katranji - Michigan State University


Sponsored By:

The MSU Muslim Studies Program & Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU)



Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 4:30 p.m, C-707 Wells Hall, 7th Floor Common Room

Free pizza and drinks to welcome students and faculty to the new academic year!






The Department of Religious Studies is proud to once again host its annual Undergraduate Scholars Conference! This conference invites undergraduates from MSU and neighboring universities to present papers discussing religions, religious controversies, religious theory, and senior thesis topics.

Co-sponsored by the MSU Museum!

Click here for the event flyer.



Thursday, April 18th 2013 at 7:00pm, Holmes C106

As part of Michigan State University's 2013 Science Festival, the Department of Religious Studies will be conducting a panel discussing how science and religion connect, sometimes in unexpected ways. Participating in the panel discussion are Dr. Richard Bellon and Dr. Mark Waddell from Lyman Briggs College as well as Dr. Arthur Versluis and Dr. Gretel Van Wieren from the Department of Religious Studies. For more information on this and other Science Festival events visit sciencefestival.msu.edu

Click here for the event flyer. 



Thursday, April 4th, 2013 at 7:00pm, International Center, CIP 115

Dr. Nasr is a University Professor of Religion at George Washington University, specializing in Islamic mysticism and Islamic, Religious, and Comparative Studies. To learn more about Dr. Nasr, click here to be connected to his website.

Click here for the event flyer.



Wednesday, March 27th at 7:30 pm, MSU Union, Tower Room

Dr. Edward Blum, professor at San Diego State Univeristy presents on the different conceptualizations of Jesus and Christ as race and religion intersect in twentieth century America.

Click here for the event flyer. 



Thursday, February 28th 2013 at 7:30pm, MSU Main Library, 4th Floor North Conference Room

This documentary follows Naif Al-Mutawa on his quest to create the first team of super heros from the Muslim world called "The 99".



Friday, January 25th, 2013 at 12:00pm, 742 Wells Hall

Come enjoy complimentary refreshments as you mingle with Religious Studies faculty and students!

Click here for event flyer.






Thursday, November 29th, 2012 at 4:00pm, International Center Room 305

Join us for a compelling presentation by MSU's own Dr. Mohammad Khalil. He'll be presenting on the topic of his most recent book, Islam and the Fate of Others: The Salvation Question. Dr. Khalil is an expert in Islamic thought and will investigate such questions as the salvation of non-Muslims as well as the possibility of redemption for the damned through the works and interpretations of some of Islam's most prominent scholars.

Sponsored by the Muslim Studies Program

Click here for the event flyer.



Monday, November 26th, 2012 at 7:00pm, Wells Hall B122

Join us in viewing this documentary directed by Xiangchen Liu that follows Ashiq, a Muslim mystic and singer, and shows the traditional way of life in the southern border area of the Taklamakan Desert. Through song and chanting accompanied by instruments, Ashiq ascends into alterntive states of consciousness. The film will examine how this very traditional lifestyle deals with encountering modernity. Immediately following the film will be a discussion with Dr. Eric Freedman, a professor ofjournalism at MSU.

Sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies

Click here for the event flyer. 



Monday, November 19th, 2012 at 7:00pm, MSU Union Gold Room A-B

Presented by Damon Linker, Commentary Editor of Newsweek/The Daily Beast and a Contributing Editor of The New Republic. He is the author of The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege, and most recently, The Religious Test: Why We Must Question the Beliefs of Our Leaders. His essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and other leading publications. He has taught writing, religious studies, and political science at the University of Pennsylvania, edited First Things magazine, served as a speechwriter for New York's Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, and taught political philosophy at Brigham Young University. Linker studied history, philosophy, and writing at Ithaca College, graduating with a BA in 1991. He went on to earn an MA in history from New York University and a Ph.D. in political science from Michigan State University. Born in New York City, Linker currently lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two children.

 Co-Sponsored by the Religious Studies Department and the LeFrak Forum.

Click here for the event flyer.



 Dr. William Robert Nowell III from North Carolina Central University will present at this session of the Brown Bag Series of the Center for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies.

The Chronicle, the leading "underground paper" in Lithuania during this era, was founded and edited by Fr. Sigitas Tamkevicius, who now is archbishop of Kaunas. Under constant KGB surveillance and har-assment of contributors, Tamkevicius was able to produce 32 clandestine issues of the paper before being arrested and convicted for disseminating "anti-Soviet" speech in 1985 and serving a five-year sen-tence at a Siberian "labor camp."



Saturday November 10th, 2012 at 6:00pm, Wells Hall

The East Lansing Film Festival is proud to present this film for viewing directed by Christian Falch. "The Exorcist in the 21st Century" takes the viewer into the unknown and sinister world of exorcism in the Catholic Church. We meet one of the few exorcists in Europe, the Vatican approved José Antonio Fortea. he travels around the world on a mission to enlighten the masses about demonic possession.

A discussion will follow the viewing with special guests from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lansing Monsignor George Michalek and Father Mathaias Thelen. Tickets are $8, $6 for seniors, and $5 for students.

For more information visit www.elff.com or call Susan at 517.980.5802.



Thursday, October 4th, 2012 at 7:00pm, Gold Rooms A and B, MSU Union Building

Lisa Sowle Cahill, J. Donald Monan Professor of Theology at Boston College, presents on the political intersections of Catholocism with Bioethics, Health Care, and Justice. Join us for the Seventh Annual Endowed Lecture in American Catholic Thought and Culture.



Monday, October 8th at 10:20am-11:40am, 134 Brody

Dr. Brian C. Wilson from the Comparative Religion Department at Western Michigan University will be presenting an historical account of 7th-Day Adventists just down the road in Battle Creek! The lecture will take place during REL 220, Religion in America, taught by Prof. Amy DeRogatis. Join us and the class of REL 220 for this compelling talk!



Monday, September 24th, 2012 at 7:00pm, Gold Rooms A and B, MSU Union Building

The faculty panel includes professors from English, Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences, Philosophy, College of Human Medicine, Religious Studies, and Anthropology. They will bring their unique research, teaching and writing experiences from a wide range of disciplines to explore contemporary and historical issues including death and dying, funeral practices and the afterlife, medicine and suicide.

Co-sponsored by the Religious Studies Department



Friday, September 21st, 2012 at 12:00pm-1:00pm, 742 Wells Hall

The Religious Studies Department welcomes all to our Fall Open House! Come meet our faculty and students to learn more about getting a major or minor, what classes will be offered, what our faculty is currently reseraching and teaching, and enjoy some light refreshments!




Dr. Taylor Petrey will speak on


Thursday April 12, 2012 at 1pm, 311 Bessey Hall

For more information on this event please contact Dr. Chris Frilingos, Religious Studies Department at frilingos@msu.edu.



Thursday, April 12 at 4 p.m., Lake Superior Room, MSU Union

Russel Nye Lecture

American Studies



Wednesday April 18th at 6:15pm-8:30pm, 158 Natural Resources Building

Green Fire shares highlights from his extraordinary career, explaining how he shaped conservation and the modern environmental movement. It also illustrates how Leopold’s vision of a community that cares about both people and land continues to inform and inspire people across the country and around the world. Leopold’s ideas remain relevant today, continuing to inspire projects nationwide that connect people and land.

Panel Discussion will follow: Including faculty from Fisheries and Wildlife, James Madison College, Religious Studies, and Lyman Briggs, food will be provided.

Presented by the MSU Fisheries and Wildlife Club and Fisheries and Wildlife Graduate Student Organization

With support from MSU Library, MSU Office of Campus Sustainability, and The Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability



Wednesday April 12th, 2012 at 3pm, 316 Bessey Hall

Come join us for this lively illustrated talk on our continuing series:  Science and Religion: Beyond the Polemics.

A College of Arts and Letters Themed Year Event. Sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies.


Join us for the only American showing of a short Norwegian documentary film

Monday, March 26th, 2012 at 3:00pm-4:20pm, C113 Wells Hall

Join us for the only American showing of a short Norwegian documentary film on the little-known, endangered, and often misunderstood ancient Yezidi religious tradition, whose home is Kurdistan. Followed by a conversation with Lazgin Barany (University of Duhok), who is featured in the film.

Sponsored by the Religious Studies Department

Co-Sponsored by Asian Studies and the College of Arts and Letters


Dr. Diane Moore will speak on “What Americans Don’t Know About Religion”

Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 7pm, International Center CIP 115

Religious illiteracy has more social and political implications than you might have thought. In this dynamic public talk, Professor Diane Moore, author of Overcoming Religious Illiteracy and recipient of an Outstanding Teacher of the Year award at Harvard University, demonstrates the surprising lack of religious knowledge in American society, and its global implications.

* Senior Lecturer on Religious Studies and Education
* Senior Fellow at The Center for the Study of World Religions
* Director of the Religious Literacy Project
* Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, Harvard University

Professor Diane L. Moore pursues research interests in the public understanding of religion through education. She is the director of the Harvard Religious Literacy Project and serves on the editorial boards of the journals Religion and Education and British Journal of Religious Education. An Outstanding Teacher of the Year award-winner at Harvard, she is also chair of the American Academy of Religion’s Task Force on Religion in the Schools, and directs the Harvard Program in Religious Studies and Education. Her talk is based on her book Overcoming Religious Illiteracy.

A College of Arts & Letters Themed Year Event
Sponsored by Religious Studies Department and ASMSU
Co-sponsored by MSU College of Education, MSU Honors College, Jewish Studies, and Muslim Studies


Professor Amy DeRogatis will speak on “Sex and the Single Evangelical: Female Purity Literature and Rituals from Birth to Adulthood”

Friday, March 16, 2012 1:30pm-3:00pm, International Center 201

Dr. DeRogatis will survey evangelical purity literature from children’s books to young adult popular magazines, focusing on advice and rituals aimed at young women who seek to maintain a “purity lifestyle.” She will discuss how purity balls, modesty fashion shows, chastity pledge cards, courting manuals, and date nights with Jesus operate to mold and monitor female born-again bodies and minds with the promise of earthly and heavenly rewards.


An Evening with Sir Ken Robinson

Wednesday March 21, 2012 7:30pm, Wharton Center

Sir Ken Robinson, PhD., is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity and human resources. He works with governments in Europe, Asia, and the USA, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies, and some of the world’s leading cultural organizations. In 1998, he led a national commission on creativity, education and the economy for the UK Government. All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education (The Robinson Report) was published to wide acclaim in 1999. He was the central figure in developing a strategy for creative and economic development as part of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland, working with the ministers for training, education enterprise and culture. The resulting blueprint for change, Unlocking Creativity, was adopted by politicians of all parties and by business, education and cultural leaders across the Province. He was one of four internationaladvisers to the Singapore Government for its strategy to become the creative hub of South East Asia.

For 12 years, he was professor of education at the University of Warwick in the UK and is now professor emeritus. He has received honorary degrees from the Open University and the Central School of Speech and Drama; Birmingham City University, and the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. He was been honored with the Athena Award of the Rhode Island School of Design for services to the arts and education; the Peabody Medal for contributions to the arts and culture in the United States and the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the Royal Society of Arts for outstanding contributions to cultural relations between the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 2005, he was named as one of Time/Fortune/CNN’s “Principal Voices.” In 2003, he received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the arts. He speaks to audiences throughout the world on the creative challenges facing business and education in the new global economies.

His latest book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything(Penguin/Viking 2009) was a New York Times best-seller and is being translated into eight different languages.

Tickets can be purchased at http://www.whartoncenter.com/


Professor Doug Sjoquist will speak on “Corporate Hinduism in America”

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 4:30pm, 111 Berkey Hall

America has been exporting its culture to the rest of the world via movies, TV shows, pop music, and other forms of entertainment for a long time but especially since the communications revolution in the 1980s when improved technologies spawned the concept of globalization. This same globalization, in turn, has allowed Americans to borrow freely from other cultures. It appears that when we borrow from other cultures, however, the borrowing is mostly used to sell products. American advertisers, for example, frequently co-opt the language and the culture of Hinduism in marketing products like perfume, films, and even car insurance.

This presentation will explore the existence of Hindu language and imagery in American advertising and discuss how the Hindu words and images are employed. What’s lost in the translation? Is there a danger of promoting cultural misunderstandings? Do Americans even know the cultural origins of the words and images used in such advertising?

Professor Sjoquist is the lead Religious Studies faculty member at Lansing Community College and is a visiting professor at Michigan State University in the Department of Religious Studies teaching Hinduism (REL 340).


Prof. Jeffrey Kripal will speak on “The Religious Origins and Meanings of Superheroes”

Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 7 p.m., International Center CIP 115

Characters like Superman and Batman, and movies like The Matrix and Star Wars all have hidden religious origins and meanings. In this engaging, illustrated free public talk, Professor Jeffrey Kripal introduces the subject of his latest book, Mutants and Mystics (University of Chicago, 2011), and shows how religion and the paranormal plays a central role in contemporary popular culture.

Jeffrey J. Kripal holds the J. Newton Rayzor Endowed Chair at Rice University, where he is also the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies. He is the author of Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal (Chicago, 2011);Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred (Chicago, 2010); Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion (Chicago, 2007); The Serpent’s Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion (Chicago, 2006); Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom: Eroticism and Reflexivity in the Study of Mysticism (Chicago, 2001); andKali’s Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna(Chicago 1995). He has also co-edited volumes with: Wouter Hanegraaff on eroticism and esotericism, Hidden Intercourse: Eros and Sexuality in the History of Western Esotericism (University of Amsterdam Press, 2008); Glenn W. Shuck on the history of Esalen and the American counterculture, On the Edge of the Future: Esalen and the Evolution of American Culture (Indiana, 2005); Rachel Fell McDermott on a popular Hindu goddess, Encountering Kali: In the Margins, at the Center, in the West(California, 2003); G. William Barnard on the ethical critique of mystical traditions,Crossing Boundaries: Essays on the Ethical Status of Mysticism (Seven Bridges, 2002); and T.G. Vaidyanathan of Bangalore, India, on the dialogue between psychoanalysis and Hinduism, Vishnu on Freud’s Desk: A Reader in Psychoanalysis and Hinduism(Oxford, 1999). His present areas of interest include the re-visioning and renewal of the comparative method in the study of religion, the comparative erotics of mystical literature, American countercultural translations of Asian religious traditions, and the history of Western esotericism from ancient Gnosticism to the New Age.

A College of Arts and Letters Themed Year Event. Sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies. Co-sponsored by the Department of English, The Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, and the MSU Honors College.


Spring 2012 Open House Pizza Party

Friday, 3 February, 2012 from noon to 1 p.m., in 116 Morrill Hall


Click here to see this Religious Studies faculty panel in the news!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 7:00pm, International Center CIP 115

“Religion and Politics”

Representing the Department of Religious Studies, James Madison College, and the College of Law, professors from each department will join together in a panel to discuss the role of religion in contemporary American politics and the 2012 election.

The panel members:
Gene Burns, Ph.D., James Madison College
Frank Ravitch, J.D., LL.M., College of Law
Amy DeRogatis, Ph.D., Department of Religious Studies
Mohammad Khalil, Ph.D., Department of Religious Studies

Moderated by David Stowe, Ph.D., Department of English/Department of Religious Studies

Sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies, James Madison College, and the College of Law.





Dr. Anna Peterson, University of Florida, on “Ethics, Nature, and Religion”

Friday, December 2 at 2pm, MSU Union, Lake Ontario room

Dr. Anna Peterson is a professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Florida. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Her main research and teaching areas are environmental and social ethics, religion and politics, and religion in Latin America. Her books include Residence on Earth: Utopian Communities in the Americas (2005), which compares the experiences of returned refugees in eastern El Salvador and those of Amish farmers in the Midwestern U.S. The book brings together her interests in the sociology of religion and ethics. She has also written about ethics in more theoretical works, including her book Being Human: Ethics, Environment, and Our Place in the World (2001), which explores the complex connections among conceptions of human nature and attitudes toward non-human nature. Anna Peterson’s latest book is Everyday Ethics and Social Change: The Education of Desire (2009). The book explores the ethics embedded in interpersonal relationships and encounters with non-human nature and their potential as a resource for progressive social change. Professor Peterson is involved in a collaborative project, funded by the National Science Foundation, to develop curriculum and material for teaching environmental ethics to scientists, engineers, and technology professionals.


Dr. Sara Moslener, Kalamazoo College, on “Put a Ring on It: Popular Culture and the Moral Economy of Sexual Purity”

Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 3pm, Wells Hall B122

Sara Moslener holds a doctorate in U.S. Religious history from Claremont Graduate University and is Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion at Kalamazoo College. She is currently at work on a book titled Saving Civilization: Sexual Purity from the White Cross to the Silver Ring, which examines apocalyptic themes within evangelical purity culture.


Dr. David O’Brien on “Catholic and American: Does American Matter?”

Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 7pm, in the MSU Union, Parlor Room C

Part of the Department of Religious Studies Religion and U.S. Culture Series

The Sixth Annual Endowed Lecture in American Catholic Thought and Culture

The College of Arts and Letters


Religious Studies Fall Open House

Friday, September 9, 2011 from 12pm - 1:00pm, 116 Morrill Hall


Religious Studies Discussion Group first meeting of the semester

Tuesday, September 6, 2011 from 6:30pm - 8:00pm, 116 Morrill Hall


“Science and Religion: Beyond the Polemics”

On April 6, 2011, as part of our Religious Studies Discussion Series “Science and Religion: Beyond the Polemics”, we welcomed Andrew Newberg, M.D. to the MSU campus for a presentation that introduced the cutting-edge intersection of science and religion today in the scope of neuroscience. This past November, also as part of our Religious Studies Discussion Series, we enjoyed a fruitful and informative discussion with Dr. Michael Boivin, who discussed the effects of spirituality on the brain of cancer patients.