I am an Associate Professor of Religion in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Middle Tennessee State University. I teach courses on Method and Theory in the Study of Religion. My areas of specialization are North American Religions; Cultural Anthropology; Sociology of Religion; Discourse Analysis; Religion and Diversity in the Public Sphere.
My research contributes to the Anthropology of Christianity and challenges some of the core assumptions that scholars of religion make about Christian beliefs, practices and identity. This work provides a critical methodology that can be translated into classroom discussions that engage issues surrounding intersections between religion, politics, gender and popular culture.
My first book project (currently under contract with NYU Press) examines the reading practices and alternative rituals employed by liberal and progressive Christians to negotiate questions of faith and tradition in relation to biblical scholarship, scientific empiricism, and progressive politics. I argue that in so doing, progressive Christians construct a new way of being Christian that simultaneously departs from but emerges out of evangelical Christian modalities.
In addition to my work on my book manuscript, I am also currently completing ethnographic fieldwork examining a movement known as Jewish Affinity Christianity. This project, “Jesus, Judaism, and Evangelical Rabbis,” is a multi-sited ethnography and has received funding from the American Academy of Religion Individual Research Grant program and from Middle Tennessee State University’s FRCAC program. This project looks at the ways that evangelical Christians make use of Jewish practices and traditions as a means of gaining access to Jesus. Its scholarly framework draws analogies between this movement and the Prosperity Gospel examining religious practices’ intersections with economies and theories of affect.
I completed my PhD in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. My dissertation, The New Heretics: Popular Theology, Progressive Christianity and Protestant Language Ideologies is an ethnographic and linguistic analysis of the development of progressive Christianity in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. After completing my PhD, I held a postdoctoral fellowship in the Initiative in Religious Practices and Practical Theology at Emory University.