University papers

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The “Women, Religion, & Society” papers (I of IV)

Originally written in the late ’90s regarding the reading list of a truly fascinating anthropology class. The papers are extremely light — basically just some quick review and discussion questions. I include them here mostly because the books were excellent and well worth reading for thoughtful perspectives on women’s roles in a variety of religions….

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A Life Worth Living (V of V)

I was enthralled by my correspondent’s enlightening statement to me, and I spent some time trying to figure out where my spirituality was. Eventually I concluded it was not a particular location or animal in which I found the sacred — it was more the concept of the wilderness, of Nature itself as iconic of…

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A Life Worth Living (IV of V)

I was already working hard on mental independence, unconsciously using Gross’s “hermeneutics of suspicion” (121); looking back, I think my fierce desire for physical independence, and my complete disinterest in certain sexual positions I considered demeaning, stemmed from that understanding. Since then I’ve also had recommended (but not yet read) Peggy Reeves Sanday’s Femininity &…

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A Life Worth Living (III of V)

It was no surprise, therefore, to discover the other two Religions of the Book (Judaism and Islam) seemed equally reprehensible in their treatment of women. I was boggled to discover Judaism seemed to consider women not only “unclean” whenever they performed the absolute miracle of birth — but that a girl child was somehow filthier…

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A Life Worth Living (II of V)

Childhood Spirituality & Implications Durkheim’s definition of religion was a huge relief to discover in my early college years; it was a clear explanation for vague and inchoate beliefs I’d held since childhood. At that time, of course, I was not consciously aware of the iconic, near-reified nature of the various flavors of christianity my…

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A Life Worth Living: Personal examination of religious & spiritual beliefs (I of V)

Paper written Fall 2008 for the Women’s Spirituality Master’s Program class Women, Religion, & Social Change; with professors D. Grenn & M. Rigoglioso. Bibliography (with links included) at paper’s end. Introduction My final paper for the “Women, Religion, and Social Change” class is based on the question: “What are the social, ecological, spiritual, political,…

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Diasporically Inspired Books of the Old Testament: Ruth, Judith, Esther, and Daniel & Susanna

Paper originally written for a fascinating The Bible as History & Literature class, circa the late 1990’s. In the time of the Diaspora, the Jews must have suffered a great crisis of faith. In fairly rapid succession, they got to see their lands overrun by foreign barbarians, their property confiscated, their families enslaved or sent…

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Imagined Communities

Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, New Edition In this book Benedict Anderson discusses the imagining and rise of nationalism. He lists several ideological changes that allowed the creation of this concept. First is the loss of the ‘sacred silent languages,’ which held together religious communities that spanned continents. These languages…

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Wisdom Sits in Places (III of III)

Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache The Apache feel that speech should be used with economy. Verbosity is not considered precocious, merely loud. Indeed, careless use of language can be perceived as both rude to the listener and disrespectful of the ancestors. It is considered better to listen, observe, and…

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Wisdom Sits in Places (II of III)

Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache A sense of history is given by the Apache location stories. The stories relate the past, but are usually told in the present tense. Quotations are frequently used, to invoke a sense of current presence, and the language is concise and avoids redundancy. The…