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Interviews with Scholars of Religion about their New Books
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    • Religión y espiritualidad

Interviews with Scholars of Religion about their New Books
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    Vijaya Nagarajan, "Feeding a Thousand Souls: Women, Ritual, and Ecology in India--an Exploration of the Kolam" (Oxford UP, 2018)

    Vijaya Nagarajan, "Feeding a Thousand Souls: Women, Ritual, and Ecology in India--an Exploration of the Kolam" (Oxford UP, 2018)

    Every day millions of Tamil women in southeast India wake up before dawn to create a kolam, an ephemeral ritual design made with rice flour, on the thresholds of homes, businesses and temples. This thousand-year-old ritual welcomes and honors Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and alertness, and Bhudevi, the goddess of the earth. Created by hand with great skill, artistry, and mathematical precision, the kolam disappears in a few hours, borne away by passing footsteps and hungry insects. This is the first comprehensive study of the kolam in the English language. It examines its significance in historical, mathematical, ecological, anthropological, and literary contexts. The culmination of Vijaya Nagarajan's many years of research and writing on this exacting ritual practice, Feeding a Thousand Souls: Women, Ritual, and Ecology in India--an Exploration of the Kolam (Oxford UP, 2018) celebrates the experiences, thoughts, and voices of the Tamil women who keep this tradition alive. You can visit the book's website here. 
    Vijaya Nagarajan is currently the Chair and Associate Professor of the Department of Theology/Religious Studies and in the Program of Environmental Studies at the University of San Francisco.
    Raj Balkaran is a scholar, educator, consultant, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com.
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    • 48 min
    Leonard J. Greenspoon, "Olam Ha-zeh V'olam Ha-ba: This World and the World to Come in Jewish Belief and Practice" (Purdue UP, 2017)

    Leonard J. Greenspoon, "Olam Ha-zeh V'olam Ha-ba: This World and the World to Come in Jewish Belief and Practice" (Purdue UP, 2017)

    Olam Ha-zeh V'olam Ha-ba: This World and the World to Come in Jewish Belief and Practice (Purdue UP, 2017), for which Professor Greenspoon served as the editor, explores Jewish notions and conceptions of the afterlife and how it compares to our live on this earth. Covering sources from Apocryphal literature from 400BCE to 200CE to modern thinkers like Mendelssohn and Levinas, Olam ha-zeh and Olam ha-ba provides an interdisciplinary view of the subject and helps readers understand the diverse range of opinions Jews hold and have held about the after life.
    Each of the 13 authors whose works are brought together in this volume shows historical, cultural, and religious sensitivity both to the unique features of these differing manifestations and to the elements that unite them. For the readers of this volume, which is equally rewarding for general audiences and for specialists, the result is a carefully nuanced, creatively balanced exploration of the breadth of Jewish thought and practice concerning some of the most profound and perplexing issues humans face.
    Matthew Miller, is a graduate of Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah. He studied Jewish Studies and Linguistics at McGill for his BA and completed an MA in Hebrew Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London. He currently works as a senior market research analyst at G2 and lives in Chicago with his wife, Georgia, and newborn, Aviya.
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    • 55 min
    Julie Rodgers, "Outlove: A Queer Christian Survival Story" (Broadleaf Books, 2021)

    Julie Rodgers, "Outlove: A Queer Christian Survival Story" (Broadleaf Books, 2021)

    Outlove: A Queer Christian Survival Story, written by Julie Rodgers was published in 2021 by Broadleaf Books Publishing Inc. In this honest and vulnerable book, Rodgers takes us through her journey from ex-gay theology to radical inclusion and self-acceptance as a queer Christian.
    After decades of bouncing between hope and despair, Evangelical, Baptist-raised Julie Rodgers found herself making a powerful public statement that her former self would have never said: "I support same-sex marriage in the church."
    When Rodgers came out to her family as a junior in high school, she still believed that God would sanctify her and eventually make her straight. Wanting so intensely to be good, she spent her adolescent and early adult years with an ex-gay ministry, praying for liberation from her homosexuality. In Outlove Rodgers details her deeply personal journey from a life of self-denial in the name of faith to her role in leading the take-down of Exodus International, the largest ex-gay organization in the world, to her marriage to a woman at the Washington National Cathedral. Through one woman's intimate story, we see the larger story of why many have left conservative religious structures in order to claim their truest identity.
    Outlove is about love and losses, political and religious power-plays, and the cost to those who sought to stay in a faith community that wouldn't accept them. Shedding light on the debate between Evangelical Christians and the LGBTQ community--a battle that continues to rage on in the national news and in courtrooms across the country--this book ultimately casts a hopeful vision for how the church can heal.
    Meg Gambino is an artist and activist currently working as the Director of Outreach for an addiction recovery center. Her life mission is to creatively empower others by modeling reconciliation between communities of people and people on the margins. Find her work at reconfigureart.com.
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    • 48 min
    Daryl R. Ireland, "John Song: Modern Chinese Christianity and the Making of a New Man" (Baylor UP, 2020)

    Daryl R. Ireland, "John Song: Modern Chinese Christianity and the Making of a New Man" (Baylor UP, 2020)

    Dubbed the "Billy Sunday of China" for the staggering number of people he led to Christ, John Song has captured the imagination of generations of readers. His story, as it became popular in the West, possessed memorable, if not necessarily true, elements: Song was converted while he studied in New York at Union Theological Seminary in 1927, but his modernist professors placed him in an insane asylum because of his fundamentalism; upon his release, he returned to China and drew enormous crowds as he introduced hundreds of thousands of people to the Old-Time Religion. 
    In John Song: Modern Chinese Christianity and the Making of a New Man (Baylor UP, 2020), Daryl Ireland upends conventional images of John Song and theologically conservative Chinese Christianity. Working with never before used sources, this groundbreaking book paints the picture of a man who struggled alongside his Chinese contemporaries to find a way to save their nation. Unlike reformers who attempted to update ancient traditions, and revolutionaries who tried to escape the past altogether, Song hammered out the contours of a modern Chinese life in the furnace of his revivals. With sharp storytelling and careful analysis, Ireland reveals how Song ingeniously reformulated the Christian faith so that it was transformative and transferrable throughout China and Southeast Asia. It created new men and women who thrived in the region’s newly globalized cities. Song’s style of Christianity continues to prove resilient and still animates the extraordinary growth of the Chinese church today.
    Byung Ho Choi is a Ph.D. Student from South Korea in the Department of History & Ecumenics, concentrating in World Christianity and history of religions at Princeton Theological Seminary.
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    • 1h 46 min
    Ismail Fajrie Alatas, "What Is Religious Authority?: Cultivating Islamic Communities in Indonesia" (Princeton UP, 2021)

    Ismail Fajrie Alatas, "What Is Religious Authority?: Cultivating Islamic Communities in Indonesia" (Princeton UP, 2021)

    What Is Religious Authority?: Cultivating Islamic Communities in Indonesia (Princeton UP, 2021) by Ismail Fajrie Alatas draws on groundbreaking anthropological insights to provide a new understanding of Islamic religious authority, showing how religious leaders unite diverse aspects of life and contest differing Muslim perspectives to create distinctly Muslim communities. Taking readers from the eighteenth century to today, Alatas traces the movements of Muslim saints and scholars from Yemen to Indonesia and looks at how they traversed complex cultural settings while opening new channels for the transmission of Islamic teachings. He describes the rise to prominence of Indonesia’s leading Sufi master, Habib Luthfi, and his rivalries with competing religious leaders, revealing why some Muslim voices become authoritative while others don’t. Alatas examines how Habib Luthfi has used the infrastructures of the Sufi order and the Indonesian state to build a durable religious community, while deploying genealogy and hagiography to present himself as a successor of the Prophet Muḥammad. Challenging prevailing conceptions of what it means to be Muslim, What Is Religious Authority? demonstrates how the concrete and sustained labors of translation, mobilization, collaboration, and competition are the very dynamics that give Islam its power and diversity.
    Ismail Fajrie Alatas is an assistant professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, and History at New York University. 
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    • 1h 48 min
    McComas Taylor, "The Viṣṇu Purāṇa: Ancient Annals of the God with Lotus Eyes" (Australian National UP, 2021)

    McComas Taylor, "The Viṣṇu Purāṇa: Ancient Annals of the God with Lotus Eyes" (Australian National UP, 2021)

    Listen in as we speak with McComas Taylor (Associate Professor and Reader in Sanskrit, The Australian National University) about his brand-new translation of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa. This is the second time the Viṣṇu Purāṇa has been translated into English, the last time being nearly two centuries ago. Attentive to out the aesthetics of out-loud utterance, this beautiful translation is in blank-verse, faithful to the original Sanskrit, and available Open Access. We also speak about the World Sanskrit Conference, an upcoming Sanskrit Narrative volume, and studying Sanskrit online with McComas Taylor.
    Raj Balkaran is a scholar, educator, consultant, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com.
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    • 1h

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