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Carrie Sealine - In Memoriam

Carrie Sealine z”l (1957-2020)

With a heavy heart we share the news about the passing of our colleague, student, and friend to so many, Carrie Sealine. Carrie was in the fifth year of her doctoral work at the GTU, specializing in New Religious Movements. Carrie completed her MA in Jewish Studies at CJS in 2016. Her M.A. thesis was titled Making Maccabees into Jews, Making Jews into Maccabees: Reading Jewish Identity Through Extra-Canonical Texts. In the Fall of 2018 Carrie taught a Newhall class titled "Women & Thelema: A Case Study," which interrogated Thelema, a neopagan new religious movement, as a decolonial and feminist phenomenon. Carrie’s interests in magic, Jewish magic, text, and critical theory and the emergence of post-religious spiritual praxes came together in her stunning doctoral work at the GTU.

Carrie was a regular fixture for so many of us at GTU talks and colloquiums, always showing up, and always keen to engage in dialogue and ask questions (and/or, to demonstrate a ritual from the tradition of Thelemic Magick, which she studied and so enthusiastically loved to share about). In 2019, Carrie organized a GTU conference on "New Religions @ the Graduate Theological Union: Theories, Practices, and People" which many at the GTU were involved in. Even though she was already then dealing with her cancer struggle, she participated and was actively involved in every step of that event: a testament to her strength and intellectual chutzpah. Carrie also provided support for CJS as the host of our public programs, providing a warm, hospitable and beautiful atmosphere for the many people who attended our programs. Her kindness stayed with everyone long after being with her.

We keep Carrie and her surviving family in our best thoughts and prayers. Carrie was a generous spirit and friend to so many at the GTU. We’d like to close this sad announcement with some comforting words from Carrie herself. She wrote these words privately as succor for a friend during tough times in the early stages of the pandemic last spring, and yet they ring true and louder now more than ever:

"That the days are becoming indistinguishable from each other is a sign of eternity. The new world isn't that of waiting for the old order to reopen or the old economy to restart. It's to realize that the messianic age begins when we see that the essential labor is to love and feed each other and to revel in the feeling of endless resurrection when we wake up and have nothing to do that we don't have to do unless we choose it and choose it in love."

To share remembrances of Carrie on this page, please send reflections to cjs@gtu.edu. We will curate your reflections and then post. You may post with your name or anonymously.

The GTU Community Remembers Carrie

"My heart is incredibly heavy learning this news. Carrie was such an invigorating spirit and intellect. Her conviction for justice and liberation was evident in all of my experiences of her - she embodied so much of what I believe to be the spirit and values of the CJS. I can’t imagine the CJS without her, and am grateful I got to work and learn alongside her. Her memory is truly a blessing."  -Alina Fox

"I was so sad to read about Carrie's passing. I first met Carrie at the two-day conference with Miriam Heller Stern. She had such delightful energy, made it feel like everything was under control, and like everyone was warmly welcome. A kind person whose kindness stayed with you long after you left her presence."  -Adina Polen

"I drew so much inspiration and vitality from my relationship with Carrie. She was an exceptionally free-thinking, compassionate, creative, and loving person. She was a mother and a scholar, a teacher and a leader, a spiritual and cultural radical. She was amazing. We have lost a true light."  -Deena Aranoff

"Carrie was always a star for me shining wherever she went. She had been a great and special friend in our doctoral cohort at GTU since 2016. She often came out with brilliant ideas, insights and listened attentively to others. I met Carrie often at the LeConte building and she never failed to stop in the middle of her busyness and greeted me warmly and had a chat. Thank you Carrie for being a companion in these years and a great friend that truly a blessing for me in my doctoral program."  -Marinda Chan

"I served as the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs at the GTU, 2007-2017. One of my main roles was coordinating the MA Program and so I had the enviable pleasure of working with many students from all around the GTU. I have so many memories of Carrie coming to my office. She would pop in as if she was the steely ball just ricocheted off the pinball machine flipper. She would begin with "I know I've asked you this before" and proceed in breathless fashion to ask me about deadlines, forms, or program requirements. I clearly remember her enthusiasm, vigor, creativity, humor and though it wasn't always easy, the love for what she was learning and studying. I know this because she was genuinely excited about what she was doing even though she would say, "I know this is crazy for me to be doing this at this point in my life." She just couldn't help herself. She loved learning. She loved the challenges. She loved CJS and the GTU. How many times she would graciously agree to serve on a student panel for new student orientation or recruitment fair, or any number of events where the GTU wanted to have students talk about their experiences. She was someone who truly wanted to give back. "Call me if you need someone next time too." She was generous with her time and her heart. I feel tremendously fortunate that our paths crossed and send my sincere condolences to her dear family and friends who have lost a true and authentic doer, maker, and lover."  -Angela Muñoz

"What a wonderful spirit to celebrate! As a friend as well as her academic adviser in the doctoral program, I continued to see and speak with Carrie after she needed to leave the program and never once sensed even a tiny hint for sympathy or of tragedy as she declined somewhat rapidly in physical health. She modeled wise grace for those around her in the way she walked her medical fate. I will miss her delightful combination of tenacity for the values in culture religion should promote and uphold along with a marveling openness for evolving understanding of religions. Most of all I will miss her personality—so full of spunk and optimism and belief."  -Jim Lawrence

"Even though we were only acquaintances, Carrie showed me the kind of hospitality that is at the core of the gospels in my Christian tradition. As a student library circulation clerk, I met Carrie one day when I was going to the break room. I expected to spend my mandated break time in silence, but Carrie was laying out a spread of leftovers from an event. Not only did she invite me to partake, she was very conversational. Typically, as an introvert, this would have been a lot of energy to process. But Carrie’s hospitality and charm were too potent to brush aside, and we bantered for the duration of my break. Some weeks later, I was shocked that she sent me a Friend request on Facebook. I liked talking with her, but I did not think we had connected quite closely enough to become Facebook friends. But I’m glad I accepted her request anyway, because we got to know a little bit more about each other—to such a degree that she even sent me a postcard when she went to Europe last summer 2019. What a kind, thoughtful soul. My heart goes out to her loved ones."  -Joseph Ramelo

"It breaks my heart to have learned of the passing of a dear colleague of mine, who was in my PhD cohort at the GTU. Carrie was an amazing scholar, and I often felt that she was the smartest person in the room during seminars and class discussions. She was humble and willing to learn from others, and her own depth of knowledge was quite impressive. I was really looking forward to what her dissertation work would yield on her fascinating topic, and I hope that one day it gets published. Every time I type the name of my degree as "Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion" I remember Carrie saying in Dr. Holder's class that GTU changed the name of “Cheeser" (CHSR, "Cultural and Historical Studies of Religion") to "Hissey." I believe that may have been the closest I've seen to Dr. Holder rolling his eyes, but we all had a good laugh. Every time I tell people what I have a PhD in, somewhere inside my head I hear Carrie saying that I have a PhD in "Hissey." Carrie—I was always impressed by your intelligence and intrigued by your variegated, multi-faceted fields of expertise. I always enjoyed listening to your comments and presentations, and our academy is diminished by your passing. Rest in power Carrie, you will be missed."  -Cogen Bohanec

"I was blessed to share with Carrie many GTU Jewish studies classes. Sharp and quick witted, opinionated and fierce, Carrie could be counted on to challenge normative thinking. She had a broad historical understanding and wouldn’t let anodyne analysis go by. She could read with and against the grain and always offered a fresh take on academic material. At the same time, Carrie had an engaging, warm, motherly personality. She was kind to novices. She shared the freshly laid eggs from her backyard chickens. She was funny, wry. She was bold, seeking, generous, linguistically brilliant, unusual, hard working. She was welcoming to others and gave back. We are all poorer for the loss of her unforgettable bright glow. I will really miss her."  -Florence Lewis

Olam Ha'Ba

This is a video reflection Carrie made for CJS on May 01, 2020 as part of our series Reflections During Quarantine.

Olam Ha'Ba