I am an Associate Professor of Religious Studies in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Middle Tennessee State University. Additionally, I serve as a faculty resident at the MTSU Honors College. 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, and 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, The New Heretics: Skepticism, Secularism, and Progressive Christianity (NYU Press, 2023), outlines the development of progressive Christianity as a variety of Christianity that is simultaneously secular and religious. Drawing on three years of ethnographic fieldwork in North America, this book focuses on testimonies of deconversion, collective reading practices, and the ways in which religious beliefs and practices are adapted to fit secular lives. It introduces the concept of “lived secularity” as a category with which to examine the ways in which religiosity often is entangled with and subsumed by secular identities over and against religious ones.
In addition to my monograph, I have published two edited volumes, Key Categories in the Study of Religion (Equinox, 2022) and Representing Religion in Film (co-edited with Tenzan Eaghll, Bloomsbury, 2022).
Some of my more recent work has examined the development of Jewish Affinity Christianity. My first piece on this topic, “Imagining the Ethic Ecumene: Evangelical Landscapes as Gentile, Jewish, and Native in the American South,” in Landscapes of Christianity, edited by James Bielo and Amos Ron (Bloomsbury, 2022), contributes to larger conversations about shifting conceptions of economic systems, religious affiliation, and ethnicity in the American South. This piece concerns how Jews and Indigenous peoples serve as desirable religious others whose identity evangelicals wish to subsume. It contrasts these ‘desirable’ others with perceived ‘repugnant’ religious others (Muslims and demons) whose presence is surprisingly far more prevalent in the cosmology of American evangelicals. This research attends to debates around appropriation, xenophobia, and white privilege by underscoring how proximity and distance enable a realignment of political and economic support for certain groups over and against others. My interests lie in how these theologies are domesticated and publicly mediated at the grassroots to construct specific ways of being religious and something else.
I completed my PhD in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. After completing my PhD, I held a postdoctoral fellowship in the Initiative in Religious Practices and Practical Theology at Emory University. I currently serve as the President of the North American Association for the Study of Religion and previously served as Co-chair of the Sociology of Religion program unit of the American Academy of Religion and as an editor for Critical Research on Religion.
Shouldn’t this section say aboot, not about?
Cheers to the most intelligent conversationalist I’ve met in ages
The best professor I’ve ever had.
@Socrates: as an American who’s spent a lot of time in Canada, it took me a long time to hear the difference, but Canadians do not say “aboot,” they just pronounce the “-ou-” diphthong differently than a lot of Americans and it takes a while to tell the difference. So, as a non-Canadian, I’m still defending Canadians! -lol-