Research in Religious Studies Conference Schedule

It’s Our Tenth Anniversary! 

As in previous years, we have a great selection of papers from across the broad spectrum of Religious Studies and its many associated disciplines. This is the second year running that we have nearly fifty papers on the schedule, and their variety and sophistication clearly shows the depth of research conducted in undergraduate and Masters level programs in Canada.

The conference itself has been a tremendous success, developing from a rather humble meeting of around half a dozen students in 2003 to what it is today. In the past several years only about one quarter of the presenters come from Lethbridge, and so our conference is clearly addressing a need for students to find venues for their work outside of the classroom as well as the need to compare notes, make connections and friends in the larger world of academia.

We owe a tremendous debt to Prof. Anne Moore of the University of Calgary and the many students there who have supported our efforts so enthusiastically over the past six or seven years. A quick look at this year’s lineup reveals their investment in the meeting! It is also encouraging to see students travel from the East and West coasts and many points in between.

With the increasing size of the conference came increasing complications in organization and rising costs. A great thank you goes out to Bev Garnett, our admin assistant, for doing so much of the work and putting up with me. And thanks once again to Jessica Swann, our student volunteer and other students, current and past, who have agreed to host sessions and otherwise help out. Our gratitude also goes out to the various academic departments in the University of Lethbridge for their interest and to Conference Services, Sodexho caterers, Printing Services, and others who have provided so much of the infrastructure for our meetings.

As always, Chris Nicol, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, has found room in an increasingly tight budget to generously support our conference. So too has Mike Mahon, the new president of the University of Lethbridge.

Special thanks to Prof. James McGrath, our keynote speaker this year, for venturing here all the way from Butler University in Indianapolis. I’m sure we will truly enjoy his talk on “Religion in Star Trek and Doctor Who: From a Gallifreyan God to the Enlightened Enterprise”!

And, once again, thanks to you for your own interest and involvement. We look forward to this year, and the next ten years.

Saturday MAY 5 

8:00 a.m. Continental Breakfast/Registration AH175 

8:50 a.m. OPENING COMMENTS AH 117 John Harding Chair, Dept. of Religious Studies, University of Lethbridge

SESSION 1 RELIGION IN MODERN MEDIA AH 117 Jessica Swann, University of Lethbridge, presiding

9:00-9:30 Virtuous Vampires: Religion and Agency in the Twilight Series Brooke Brassard, University of Victoria

9:30-10:00 Sacred Space: There’s An App For That Alex Tkach, University of Regina

10:00-10:30 The “Ninja” Women in the “Other’s” Side: Depictions of Muslim Women in North American Political Cartoons Erendira Cervantes-Altamirano, University of Alberta

15 Minute Break 

SESSION 2A ISLAM AH 117 Atif Khalil, University of Lethbridge, presiding

10:45-11:15 Hadrami in Indonesia Ron McTavish, University of Lethbridge

11:15-11:45 The Myth of an Andalusian “Golden Age”: The Status of Non-Muslims in Ummayad Spain Imran Mohiuddin, University of Calgary

11:45-12:15 Development through Contestation: the Consequences of Interaction between Shi’ism and Sunnism between 9th and 11th Century Nabila Islam, York University

SESSION 2B HINDUISM AH 118 Nicole Hembroff, University of Lethbridge, presiding

10:45-11:15 The Unveiled Self: Removing the Illusion Within Prakṛti Amidst Puruṣa Sharon Mann, University of Manitoba

11:15-11:45 Radha’s Strength and the Status of Women in the Vaisnava Bhakti Tradition Eileen March, University of Calgary

11:45-12:15 Bhunda in Himachal Hills- Story of Faith and Beliefs in the Himalayas Kuldeep Singh, Himachal Pradesh University

SESSON 2C RELIGION AND HEALING AH 176 Hillary Rodrigues, University of Lethbridge, presiding

10:45-11:15 Grasping for the Goddess in Ecofeminism Crystal Mackenzie, University of Calgary

11:15-11:45 The Religion-Health Dialogue: Understanding Ancient Infanticide Gina Carroll, University of Calgary

11:45-12:15 Mediums and Mental Health: The Need for Traditional Buddhism in Cambodian Refugee Mental Health Treatment Savhanna J. Wilson, University of Saskatchewan

SESSION 2D HEBREW BIBLE AH 177 James Linville, University of Lethbridge, presiding

10:45-11:15 The Dichotomy of Hannah: A Comparative Study of the Greek and Hebrew Texts of 1 Samuel Christie Fredrick, University of Alberta

11:15-11:45 “Truth” and Memory: The Implications of the Josianic Narrative in Second Kings Jessica Swann, University of Lethbridge

11:45-12:15 “I Want What She Has!”: An Exploration of the Sororal Rivalry Between Rachel and Leah Fong H. Lopaschuk, University of Alberta

LUNCH 12:15-1:00 

SESSION 3A METHODOLOGY OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES 1 AH 117 Anne Moore, University of Calgary, presiding

1:00-1:30 The Bible: Broken Scripture, Unbreakable Icon Shaun Fowler, University of Calgary

1:30-2:00 You Have Your Religion, and I Have Mine: Studying Religion without Remainder Roxanne Korpan, University of Regina

SESSION 3B LDS STUDIES AH 118 Kurt Widmer, University of Lethbridge, presiding

1:00-1:30 “In Columbia we are free:” The Hope and Failure of Religious Freedom for Mormons in Western Canada James Forbes, University of Lethbridge

1:30-2:00 Alberta’s Wild Rose: The Life and Times of Zina Woolf Hickman Brooke Brassard, University of Victoria

SESSION 3C BUDDHIST STUDIES AH 176 John Harding, University of Lethbridge, presiding

1:00-1:30 Tea Ceremony as Religion Kelsey Nawrot, University of Lethbridge

1:30-2:00 Yakṣas in Early Buddhism Adeana McNicholl, University of Manitoba

Break: 10 Minutes 

SESSION 4A METHODOLOGY OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES 2 AH 117 Ron McTavish, University of Lethbridge, presiding

2:10-2:40 Mysticism and Methodology Campbell Peat, University of Lethbridge

2:40-3:10 Myths of Mahayana’s Origins: A Dead End for Scholars of Religion Michael Ruecker, University of Regina

SESSION 4B ANTHROPOLOGICAL STUDIES AH 118 Hillary Rodrigues, University of Lethbridge, presiding

2:10-2:40 Religion in the Midst of Borderland Violence Brenda Garcia, University of Lethbridge

2:40-3:10 “Minkisi: Stewards of the Kongo” Jenny Davison, Mount Saint Vincent University

SESSION 4C EARLY CHRISTIANITY AH 176 James McGrath, Butler University, presiding

2:10-2:40 Revelation, Classification, and Redescription: Tenable Futures for the Study of Religion Jesse Bailey, University of Regina

2:40-3:10 Play On Words: Acts of Andrew Target Audience Ryan Kerr, University of Calgary

Break 10 Minutes 

SESSION 5A MODERN CHRISTIAN IDENTITIES AH 117 Ron McTavish, University of Lethbridge, presiding

3:20-3:50 “Authentically” Christian: Missions, Conversion, and the Diversification of Evangelical Ethnicity in America Saliha Chattoo, Wilfrid Laurier University

3:50-4:20 The Concept of “Orthodox Diaspora” and Development of the Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Canada: an Example of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada Yuriy Kirushok, University of Saskatchewan

SESSION 5B THE ROMAN GOD AND THE IMPERIAL CHRISTIAN AH 118 Tom Robinson, University of Lethbridge, presiding

3:20-3:50 A Roman God: An Examination of the Nature of Pre-Christian Monotheism in the Greco-Roman World Zak Stinson, University of Lethbridge

3:50-4:20 The Portrait of Constantine Painted by Eusebius, Shaped by Roman Oratio Brittany DeMone, University of Calgary

SESSION 5C PHILOSOPHY AH 176 Anne Moore, University of Calgary, presiding

3:20-3:50 Why Kant Women Be Rational? Implications of Kant’s Ideology Concerning Gender Christie Mellan, University of Calgary

3:50-4:20 For Tenderness Christopher Schillling, University of Manitoba

6:00 p.m. BANQUET, ANDY’S PLACE (AH-100), ANDERSON HALL Keynote Speaker: James McGrath

“Religion in Star Trek and Doctor Who: From a Gallifreyan God to the Enlightened Enterprise”

SUNDAY, MAY 6 

8:00 a.m. Continental Breakfast AH175 

SESSION 6A EARLY CHRISTIAN LITERATURE AH 117 Tom Robinson, University of Lethbridge, presiding

8:45-9:15 “We Left Everything to Follow You!”: Home, Household and Mobility in Mark’s Gospel Miriam L. C. Fry, University of Calgary

9:15-9:45 Speak of the Devil and the Pharisees Appear: An Examination of “Satan” within the Gospel of Matthew Allan Wright, University of Regina

9:45-10:15 The Mystique of Melchizedek Nairn McLean, University of Calgary

SESSION 6B PHILOSOPHY AND THEOLOGY AH 118 Anne Moore, University of Calgary, presiding

8:45-9:15 The Deity in the Church of Hobbes Stephen Woodcock, University of Lethbridge

9:15-9:45 Theological Contours: The Shape of Rabbinic Thought in A.J. Heschel’s Torah Min haShamayyim Zvi Andrews Pardes, University of Calgary

9:45-10:15 Where Was God? Jewish Responses to the Shoah Stacy Hill, University of Calgary

SESSION 6C GO WEST, YOUNG BUDDAH AH 176 John Harding, University of Lethbridge, presiding

8:45-9:15 Jodo Shinshu in Japan And Canada: Ongoing Challenges Within Changing Societies Jessica Swann, University of Lethbridge

9:15-9:45 The Systematic Dynamics of the Guru/Disciple Hierarchy in Traditional Tibet and Modern America Christopher Emory-Moore, University of Calgary

9:45-10:15 —-

SESSION 6D MIND MATTERS AH 177 Campbell Peat, University of Lethbridge (Graduate), presiding

8:45-9:15 Meditation in Today’s World: Study and Practice Kelsey Nawrot, University of Lethbridge

9:15-9:45 The Kundalini System: “Esoteric Anatomy” and its Psychospiritual Function Sharon Mann, University of Manitoba

9:45-10:15 Transformative Sounds: A Comparison of Tibetan Buddhist Mantra & the Icaros of the Peruvian Mestizo Ayhuasceros Matthew Koczkur, University of Calgary

Break 15 minutes. 

SESSION 7 CRITIQUING THE RELIGIOUS CONSTRUCTION AND AH 117 REPAIR OF WOMEN AND THE FEMININE Hillary Rodrigues, University of Lethbridge, presiding

10:30-11:00 Fire and Water: Exploring Conceptualizations of Sexuality and the Feminine in the Daodejing and Spiritual Feminism Christie Mellan, University of Calgary

11:00-11:30 Second Class Citizens: The Construction of Women in Roman Catholicism Sarah Frances Hagel, University of Regina

11:30-12:00 Breasts for Sale Crystal Mackenzie, University of Calgary

12:00-12:15 Closing Comments, John Harding, Chair, Dept. of Religious Studies University of Lethbridge

FOR A PDF OF THE SCHEDULE WITH ALL THE ABSTRACTS CLICK HERE

NDP Crimes Revealed

http://www.tokeofthetown.com

The NDP made Stephen Harper shave his moustache.

Ah, Stephen Harper, Canada’s Conservative  Party Prime Minister and  megalomaniacal control freak and increasingly tin-pot dictatorish tea-partier! He’s really outdone himself this time. His latest gaffe was to declare in the House of Commons that the opposition, New Democratic Party (a left leaning bunch) was opposed to Canada joining World War Two against Hitler. Of course, the New Democratic Party didn’t even exist in the late thirties! The National Post reported:

NDP MPs gently reminded Harper from across the aisle that the NDP didn’t come into existence until 1961, birthed by a union between the socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and the Canadian Labour Congress.

“CCF, NDP, same difference,” Harper responded curtly.

“I guess we can start talking about Reform Party policies,” Mulcair replied, to the delight of the opposition benches.

[The current Conservative Party is a schnozzle of the old Tory party and the right wing "Reform" party].

And the CCF Party was NOT in favour of Hitler or against fighting the Germans. Rather, it was ONLY the party leader  who, for reasons of being a pacifist, voted against war. Every other CCF member of parliament voted for joining the war.

It is true that Mr. Woodsworth, leader at the time of the CCF, the party that would become the NDP some 22 years later, opposed Canada’s involvement in the war. Mr. Woodsworth was a pacifist. But he was also the only member of the CCF to oppose the declaration of war. Indeed, he was the only MP in the entire House of Commons who opposed the motion. Major James Coldwell, who would soon thereafter succeed Mr. Woodsworth as leader of the CCF, supported the declaration.  (quote from Aaron Wherry, MacLean’s magazine).

Tea, anyone?

Now, the continuing silliness from the “Harper Government” (in which other Tories are toeing the PM’s historical claims) is all good fun, but the funnest bit is that the NDP are guilty of SO MUCH MORE! Twitter is a twitting with all sorts of newly revealed truths about NDP wickedness [#HarperHistory]. For example:

The leader of the NDP couldn’t even be bothered to stop the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.

The NDP refused to come to the aid of men when Mordor invaded Gondor.

The NDP forced the Israelites to build the pyramids of Egypt.

The  NDP discovered Nickelback

Anyway, I thought I would share some of the NDP misdeeds that my research has uncovered.

The NDP knows who put the bump in the bomp bah bomp bah bump and they’re not telling.

The NDP did nothing to prevent the Prime Minister of Canada from being found  in contempt of Parliament.

The NDP is against helping our American allies in the war against women.

The NDP has never been in favour of repealing the Law of Gravity, a law which keeps airline fuel costs unreasonably high.

The NDP hid the beef.

The NDP  cleaned out my savings account and kidnapped the nice man in Africa who promised to send me $12,285,398.37 if I gave him my banking information.

The NDP said my cat “can not has cheezburger”.

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair shows how he carried Jesus’ body out of the tomb.

The NDP tells Canadians to hang up when they receive helpful automatic calls from the Tories about changes in voting stations.

The NDP hates Canada so much they even boast of being “democratic”.

The NDP tried pushing over the Tower of Pisa.

The NDP voted in favour of simply walking into Mordor.

The NDP introduced John to Yoko.

The NDP lost 10 of the tribes of Israel.

 

Truly a wicked bunch!

The true god, demonstrated

 

Stolen from somewhere on FRDB

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Holy Enterprising Stormtroopers, James “Dr. Who” McGrath! It’s the University of Lethbridge’s Faculty of Artsy-Science Fiction!

We finally got the poster for the Research In Religious Studies Conference (May 5-6) done, and Bev, our admin assistant put our keynote speaker front and centre (well, a little off to the left, but that’s politically OK in my books). And who is it? None other that Biblioblogging’s own James McGrath!

Just in case the type is too small on the poster, here is the text:

“Religion in Star Trek and Doctor Who: From a Gallifreyan God to the Enlightened Enterprise”

 The treatment of religious themes and ideas in science fiction has been a focus of significant scholarly attention in recent years. Doctor Who (the longest running science fiction TV show in history) and Star Trek (a close competitor in terms of longevity when sequels and spin-offs are considered) provide an opportunity to trace how the intersection of sci-fi and spirituality has changed and evolved over the past half a century. Both shows tend to elevate scientific perspectives and regularly feature characters offering science as an antidote to superstition. And yet both depict scenarios in which mythical entities are encountered, albeit under the guise of aliens. So is the message of these shows that science triumphs over superstitious religiosity and mythology, or is it instead that we as viewers want to enjoy the same sorts of classic mythical stories, set within the framework of an updated worldview?

 We already have just over forty papers accepted for the conference, from across Canada. As usual, we did extend the deadline for papers to this Friday (April 23), since undergrads are always so last minute (well, I am too!). I’m really looking forward to it. It’s our 10th anniversary! For more information, go to our conference blog: http://rrsconference.wordpress.com/
And keeping with the Sci-Fi, U. of Lethbridge theme, here is a 3D motion-capture video recently done by Matt Lunde, a U of L student in New Media

 

When is a Leech a Leech? When He’s a F*cking Bigot. Alberta Election: Wildrose (Tea) Party

A candidate for the Alberta Provincial Election (on Monday, April 23) from the right-wing nutcase Wildrose Party (which is probably going to win) has shown himself to be a fucking bigot. According to the Edmonton Journal today:

Ron Leech, from the Edmonton Journal

I think as a Caucasian I have an advantage,” Ron Leech told a radio station on the weekend. “When different community leaders such as a Sikh leader or a Muslim leader speak, they really speak to their own people in many ways. As a Caucasian, I believe that I can speak to all the community.”
Leech, a longtime pastor running in the multicultural riding of Calgary-Greenway, has previously been at the centre of controversy for some of his religious views against homosexuality and abortion.

The Journal’s story goes on to say that Leech apologized but can anyone really take that seriously? Honestly, can anyone who really does not believe that “White is Right” even generate that kind of BS in the first place?

Of course, the Wildrose party leader, Dannielle Smith charged to the rescue of decency and egalitarianism Leech, refusing to condemn the remarks. Instead, she tried to explain their correct interpretation spin-doctoring them into something else entirely:

“I think every candidate puts forward their best argument for why they should be the person the way represent the community,” she said in Calgary. “I know Dr. Leech runs a private school that has a large number of people from cultural communities, he has an ethnically diverse riding, he’s made great friendships and inroads with leaders of different cultural communities there so I assume he was probably commenting on his own ability.”

Own ability? What special ability does being Caucasian have to do with anything? According to the Journal’s story, Leech prefers the title “Dr. Leech” since he has a degree from an unaccredited university (the article does not name which one). But the article does remind the reader of something else that happened recently with the Wild Rose:

The incident comes a short time after Edmonton-South West nominee Allan Hunsperger, another pastor, came under fire for a blog posting made last year that decried “godless” and “wicked” public education, and questioned the Edmonton public school board’s policy of welcoming and accepting gay students.

“You will suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire, hell, a place of eternal suffering,” Hunsperger wrote, suggesting gays and lesbians have chosen a sexual orientation for which they will suffer in the afterlife. The blog was removed Sunday afternoon.

Smith also refused to condemn Hunsperger, calling the controversy a product of fearmongering and saying her party will not discriminate against anyone’s religious views. She said the Wildrose will not legislate on any controversial social issue, though rivals have said Wildrose plans to allow citizen-initiated referendums will open the door to exactly those kinds of debates.

Now, Dannielle Smith seems to be getting a lot of mileage from these two boobs.

 

The party appeals to the right builds on long-standing fears about a meddling federal governments, out of control human rights legislation, loss of control over oil revenue (while letting big Oil pay a pittance for it in the first place), godless liberalism and environmentalism that has been the staple of Provincial propaganda for decades. Most of their support comes from disgruntled former supporters of the Progressive Conservative Party which has run this place for decades (and they took over from the Social Credit Conspiracy Theorists Party in the 1970′s.

It seems that Alberta is closing in on the US Tea Party in terms of nuttiness and general bullshittiness.

I don’t always let Republicans tell me about Jesus…

OK, a little un-American snark about the US election. Sue me. I couldn’t resist… I guess I’m just a little lefty.

 

 

May Biblioblogger Carnival Jam. Sorted in Short Order

May’s Biblioblogger’s carnival is supposed to be hosted by Phil Long at Reading Acts Reading Acts but I received an email from him the other day saying his PhD defence is now scheduled for May 30, the day before his (infinitely more important) carnival should hit the inter tubes. I would fill in for him, but that will be my anniversary and The Real Mrs. Dr. Jim and I will be out of town.

I originally posted this to ask if any other blogger would care to step in, but Rodney at Political Jesus agreed to swap. In any case, wish Phil all the best on the defence!

 

Also, I will need some more volunteers for the carnivals in the latter part of the year. HEre is the lineup

April (early May): Jonathan Robinson at ξἐνος

May:  (June 1)Rodney  from Political Jesus

June: Michael Kok: Euangelion Kata Markon

July: Phil Long, Reading Acts  

 

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My Latest Public Professor: More on religions

Here is my latest Public Professor article in the Lethbridge Herald, published yesterday (March 24). For background see my earlier post:

The paper labelled the column “It’s difficult to label Religions

My last column for Public Professor (Feb. 4) stirred up a bit of a controversy. One letter writer expressed shock that a “teacher of religious wisdom” would label the Bible’s creation stories “mythology.”

The word “myth” is frequently used to disparage as false, or deceptive, stories held to be true by others. I presume the letter writer thought I had meant this. In scholarly contexts, however, “myth” denotes stories which are foundational to a group’s sense of identity or understanding of the world. By using the term, scholars do not judge a story as inferior or childish, but as important and sacred to others, regardless of how those people may label it themselves.

In this light, the biblical creation accounts and the gospels themselves can be labelled “myth” since they are central stories in Christian theology. Some (but not all) Christian scholars are resistant to this because it puts the Bible on the same level as other religions. Yet, a common cross-cultural academic vocabulary is necessary for Religious Studies. Given the great number of religions throughout history, it is rather arbitrary to protect one tradition from the critical analysis directed at all others or to adopt the judgments of one tradition over others. For example, I cannot count the times I have had students from an evangelical background become indignant when I or the textbook refer to Roman Catholics as Christian. If I adopt their meaning of “Christian,” however, will I not incur the anger of the Catholic students? Scholars and their students need to come to terms with the exclusivist claims and counterclaims to legitimacy that mark the history of religions.

Part of the “work” religions do is to express for a group of people the essential correctness and boundaries of their own way of life and how they are the possessors of a special truth and are different from other people. The job of Religious Studies is not to affirm this effort at differentiation but to understand it as it develops and is expressed in politics, art, literature, ethics and more. What religions set aside as special, sacrosanct and beyond question, and how and why they do this are the very things that scholarship must investigate. This is not to determine if the beliefs are true or false, wise or foolish but to understand how those ideas and the behaviours surrounding them work within a society and within the lives of individuals.

In many ways we live not only in the physical world but in worlds of the imagination shaped through education, socialization and personal experience. Religion is only one aspect of how people imagine their world and link themselves to one another in societies. Indeed, in many cases, there is no fundamental distinction between religion and other aspects of culture.
People often fail to see how their ideas of what seems normal or natural are actually the result of human decision, political or environmental realities, or the once-radical views of a particular individual. Religions themselves are always changing. This includes how rituals are performed, what structures of authority are accepted, and even the key doctrines and beliefs that are taught. No religion is immune to this even as they affirm that their core teachings are eternal or divinely given. Indeed, the affirmation may be an attempt to find order and stability within the vagaries of history.

Dr. Linville will be giving a rather playful and provocative talk on Religious Studies and secularism on Tuesday, March 27 at 7 p.m. in Turcotte Hall 201, entitled “On the Job of Not Practising What I Teach. Some Personal Reflections on Religion, Academia, and the Evil Atheist Conspiracy.” Go to http://www.uleth.ca/artsci/event/17242 for more details.

Stupid Quote of the Day Award!

Goes to Sharron who posted a comment in response to an anti-fluoridation letter in the Lethbridge Herald today.

Ok, anti-fluoridation hype is pretty stupid, too, but here is the prize winner:

Fluoridation needs to GO into the never, never land that will not be used again. Drinking flouride makes people sick, and does not help the teeth. If it’s in your gut, how can that help the teeth? Stupid people believe anything don’t they?

This Sharron person is a constant source of amusement and amazement. A real joy to read, especially if one is feeling a bit depressed or if you just did something stupid. It’s nice to know there is always someone worse off than you!  Here was my reply:

My shattered nerves. How can the calcium in milk be good for one’s teeth and bones if it is one’s gut? Heck, how can any food be good for any part of the body if it is only in one’s gut? It seems that the tummy is connected to the other parts of the body, This is surprising, I know, but apparently this includes some magical connection to the mouth, which secretes saliva which is in contact with the outside of people’s teeth.

“Stupid people believe anything don’t they?” Sharron, take a reality check once in a while!

You can add your own reply here: Reply

 

 

Well, I might be OK with this Christian Nation thing after all…

 

Seen on FRDB

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