Books by Our Alumni

Dr. Wayne G. Johnson

Judging Jesus: World Religions' Answers to "Who Do People Say That I Am?"
Hamilton Books, 2016

Dr. Johnson is a PhD Graduate of the U of I Department of Religious Studies and as of Jan 2017, serving as Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha, WI.

Judging Jesus - JohnsonBook Description: Few persons have had greater impact on history than Jesus of Nazareth. That he existed is generally conceded. Who he was remains a major issue. Since great religions claim to possess basic and unique truths about the human venture, the Christian message about Jesus challenges other great religions. Much of world history is marked by the responses of great religions to this Christian challenge.

More information can be found here.

Dr. Daniel Morris

Virtue and Irony in American Democracy: Revisiting Dewey and Niebuhr
Lexington Books, 2015

Dr. Morris is a 2012 PhD Graduate of the U of I Department of Religious Studies and as of January 2017 a Teaching Fellow at Augustana College, Rock Island, Il.

Virtue & Irony morrisBook Description: What virtues are necessary for democracy to succeed? This book turns to John Dewey and Reinhold Niebuhr, two of America’s most influential theorists of democracy, to answer this question. Dewey and Niebuhr both implied—although for very different reasons—that humility and mutuality are important virtues for the success of people rule. Not only do these virtues allow people to participate well in their own governance, they also equip us to meet challenges to democracy generated by free-market economic policy and practices. Ironically, though, Dewey and Niebuhr quarreled with each other for twenty years and missed the opportunity to achieve political consensus. In their discourse with each other they failed to become “one out of many,” a task that is distilled in the democratic rallying cry “e pluribus unum.” This failure itself reflects a deficiency in democratic virtue. Thus, exploring the Dewey/Niebuhr debate with attention to their discursive failures reveals the importance of a third virtue: democratic tolerance. If democracy is to succeed, we must cultivate a deeper hospitality toward difference than Dewey and Niebuhr were able to extend to each other.

"Sometime in the spring of 1968—marked, as it was, by the assassinations of MLK and RFK, and the Tet Offensive—the New Left replaced the Old and the focus of sociopolitical attention shifted from economics, the distribution of power, institutional purpose, and progress to political identity, suspicion of power, self-fulfillment, and revolution. The shift was probably both necessary and inevitable, but a decade and a half into the twenty-first century, many of the concerns of the Old Left are ascendant. We are, therefore, fortunate to have Dan Morris' new book re-introduce us to two towering figures of the Old Left: John Dewey and Reinhold Niebuhr. Morris deftly links the philosopher and the theologian to each other, managing not only to walk us through their work and their conflicts but to bring their insights to bear on some of the most pressing issues we now face." Mark Douglas, Columbia Theological Seminary.

More information can be found here.

Dr. Patrick McCauley

Into the Pensive: The Philosophy and Mythology of Harry Potter
Schiffer Publishing, 2015

Dr. McCauley is a PhD Graduate of the U of I Department of Religious Studies in 2006, and as of 2016, serving as an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia, PA.

Pensieve McCauleyBook Description: This book takes a look at the arc of the storyline in Harry Potter, digging below the surface to explore ethical, mythological, and religious meanings in J.K. Rowling’s best-selling series. Why do we find ourselves so intrigued with the tale of Harry Potter? Many of the millions who passionately read the Harry Potter series found they could relate to the details, dreams, and fears of Harry’s life. From a phoenix that dies and rises again to Dumbledore, a character who appears in a realm beyond death, there can be little doubt that Rowling’s story delves into profound themes and ideas. She tackles issues of grief, responsibility, individual excellence, and heroism in the face of violence and corruption. This philosophical analysis shows that if, in fact, we do find ourselves reflected in Harry’s story, then we may also find that our destiny and individual potential resonates with his as well.

"Patrick McCauley's 'Into the Pensieve' is the most important piece of new-wave scholarship by an individual author that has come out in the recent tsunami of re-evaluation of the Hogwarts Saga by academics and fandom at large. His insights about Rowling's just-below-the-conscious threshold theme of violence against women taken alone are more than worth the price of the book; they open up our understanding not only of Harry's adventures but Rowling's subsequent work in 'Casual Vacancy' and her Cormoran Strike novels. McCauley's writing is lucid, crisp, and engaging and his arguments cogent. Every serious reader of Harry Potter, of any of the works of Joanne Rowling, will benefit from and enjoy her and his re-immersion in the Wizarding World via McCauley's 'Pensieve."  John Granger

More information can be found here.

Dr. Daniel Boscaljon

HOPE AND THE LONGING FOR UTOPIA, Futures and Illusions in Theology and Narrative
Pickwick Publications, 2014.

Dr. Boscaljon, a 2009 PhD Graduate of the U of I Department of Religious Studies, is as of 2016, serving as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Ia.

Hope, longingBook Description:  At present the battle over who defines our future is being waged most publicly by secular and religious fundamentalists. Hope and the Longing for Utopia offers an alternative position, disclosing a conceptual path toward potential worlds that resist a limited view of human potential and the gift of religion. In addition to outlining the value of embracing unknown potentialities, these twelve interdisciplinary essays explore why it has become crucial that we commit to hoping for values that resist traditional ideological commitments. Contextualized by contemporary writing on utopia, and drawing from a wealth of times and cultures ranging from Calvin's Geneva to early twentieth-century Japanese children's stories to Hollywood cinema, these essays cumulatively disclose the fundamental importance of resisting tantalizing certainties while considering the importance of the unknown and unknowable. Beginning with a set of four essays outlining the importance of hope and utopia as diagnostic concepts, and following with four concrete examples, the collection ends with a set of essays that provide theological speculations on the need to embrace finitude and limitations in a world increasingly enframed by secularizing impulses. Overall, this book discloses how hope and utopia illuminate ways to think past simplified wishes for the future.

"This is a strong and timely volume that, in its counter to the dystopic tendencies of the last hundred years, offers significant hope in breaking down the old (and ongoing) divisions between the religious and the secular and between our status in quo and our future longing."  Andrew W. Hass, University of Stirling, Scotland

More information can be found here.

Dr. David J. Howlett

Kirkland Temple, The Biography of a Shared Mormon Sacred Space 
University of Illinois Press, 2014.

Dr. Howlett, a 2010 PhD Graduate of the U of I Department of Religious Studies, as of 2016 serving as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Skidmore College, NY.

Kirtland temple HowlettBook Description:  The only temple completed by Mormonism's founder, Joseph Smith Jr., the Kirtland Temple in Kirtland, Ohio, receives 30,000 Mormon pilgrims every year. The site's religious significance and the space itself are contested by distinct Mormon denominations: its owner, the relatively liberal Community of Christ, and the larger Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"A groundbreaking biography of one of Mormonism's holiest shrines.  The only temple completed by Mormonism's founder, Joseph Smith Jr., the Kirtland Temple in Kirtland, Ohio, receives 30,000 Mormon pilgrims every year. The site's religious significance and the space itself are contested by distinct Mormon denominations: its owner, the relatively liberal Community of Christ, and the larger Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  David J. Howlett sets the biography of Kirtland Temple against the backdrop of this religious rivalry. The two sides have long contested the temple's ownership, purpose, and significance in both the courts and Mormon literature. Yet members of each denomination have occasionally cooperated to establish periods of co-worship, host joint tours, and create friendships. Howlett uses the temple to build a model for understanding what he calls parallel pilgrimage--the set of dynamics of disagreement and alliance by religious rivals at a shared sacred site. At the same time, he illuminates social and intellectual changes in the two main branches of Mormonism since the 1830s, providing a much-needed history of the lesser-known Community of Christ." University of Illinois Press.

More information can be found here.

Dr. Calvin Lane

The Laudians and the Elizabethan Church
, Conformity and Religious Identity in Post-Reformation England
Pickering and Chatto Publishers, 2013

Dr. Lane, a 2010 PhD Graduate of the University of Iowa, as of 2015, serving as Affiliate Professor at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, WI.

Laudians and Elizabethtown ChurchBook description:  Notions of religious conformity in England were redefined during the mid-seventeenth century; for many it was as though the previous century's reformation was being reversed. Lane considers how a select group of churchmen – the Laudians – reshaped the meaning of church conformity during a period of religious and political turmoil. He emphasizes the Laudians' use of history in their arguments, particularly their creative appeal to common sensibilities about the reign of Elizabeth I as a 'Golden Age'. This book assesses the way historical claims functioned within the discourse of religious and political legitimacy in early modern England.  On the basis of this monograph, Dr. Lane was elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in London.

'a novel and truly useful approach that is a welcome addition to studies of Laudianism and seventeenth-century English religion ... will prove fascinating to anyone interested in seventeenth-century England'  - American Historical Review          

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