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2016 GTU Graduates

On May 12, fifty-seven graduates were honored at the GTU's 2016 Commencement Ceremony at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary's Chapel of the Cross in Berkeley, California. Graduates are listed below by degree and include their thesis title, area of study or school of affiliation, committee members, and thesis abstract; language specialization is noted for MABL graduates in lieu of thesis information.

 

Master of Arts

Ineda P. Adesanya

The Necessity of Spiritual Care for American Protestant Clergy: Living and Serving via the Fruits of God’s Grace

San Francisco Theological Seminary

R. Scott Sullender (Coordinator)

Elizabeth Liebert, S.N.J.M.

American Protestant clergy’s embrace of the necessity of receiving spiritual care in addition to the more common means of self-care is of essence to optimize overall well-being. This thesis explores theological and spiritual traditions that relate to clergy stress; and identifies relevant and palpable attributes of spiritual practices, which reflect the fruits of God’s grace, that can more effectively reduce and prevent chronic stress.

 

Staci Rachel Akselrod

Shifting Identities: How American Jews Learned to Perform Gender

Center for Jewish Studies

Naomi Sheindel Seidman (Coordinator)

Devin P. Zuber                      

This thesis looks at the ways in which American Jewish assimilation can be tracked through theatrical performance. The project has a particular focus on the ways in which Jewish gender identity was presented on stage, and the ways in which these representations of Jewish gender show the difficulties and successes that Jews had in the process of Americanization.

 

Murat Bilici

The Role of Islam in Kurdish Cultural Identity in America

Center for Islamic Studies

Munir Jiwa (Coordinator)

Judith A. Berling

This thesis focuses on the role of Islam in Kurdish cultural identity in a western context, in this case in the United States of America. Given that there are now sizable Kurdish immigrant communities in Europe and America, the relationship between Islam and Kurdishness is taking on a further complexity. How do the Kurds negotiate and articulate their Kurdish and Muslim identities
in America? This study investigates the role of Islam in Kurdish cultural identity in America. It draws on qualitative ethnographic data collected through interviews and participant observation among the Kurds of Nashville, Tennessee, known as “Little Kurdistan.” 

 

Thomas Ross Calobrisi

On Mindful Civil Religion: A Study of the Rhetoric of the Mindfulness Movement in the United States

Institute of Buddhist Studies

WITH HONORS

Scott A. Mitchell (Coordinator)

David Matsumoto                       

This work demonstrates how the “problem of disconnection” from oneself, others and the environment as found in the rhetoric of “mindful civil religion” is a false problem in so far as the divide between “Nature” and “Society,” the founding discourse of modernity, is a fiction.

 

Mercedes Anne Cary

Love and Pragmatism: A Study of Religious and Social Marriage Trends in India and the United States

Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University

Jerome P. Baggett (Coordinator)

Rita D. Sherma

This thesis explores how Hindu traditions and American Christianity view the institution of marriage. It analyzes the ways in which “official” and “lived” religion differ on the topic of marriage, and what the process of selecting a spouse looks like for middle-class individuals in each society. Ultimately, it argues that marriage is more scripturally prominent in Christianity and soteriologically important in Hindu traditions.

 

Sandra Chavez

U.S. Hispanic/Latino Theology and Immigration

Graduate Theological Union

Eugene Ludwig, O.F.M. Cap (Coordinator)

Eduardo C. Fernández, S.J.

Susanna Elm, University of California, Berkeley

 

Kevin Patrick Creamer

That All Might Be Subjects: The Narrative-Practical Character of Subjectivity as Living the Question in the Writing of J.B. Metz and Viktor Frankl

Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University

WITH HONORS

George Griener, S.J. (Coordinator)

Kevin Burke, S.J.

This thesis looks to the ways that faith and hope in the writings of Frankl and Metz speak to the human capacity to sustain contradiction within experiences of suffering, culminating ultimately in the conviction that theology must be able to speak both from and into these realities if it is to be a genuinely salvific in any meaningful sense.

 

Sarah Rose Ebster

Structure, Ritual and Orthodoxy: A Comparative Study of Differing Perspectives in the Valentinian Corpus and the Writings of Adi Śakarācārya

Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University

Jerome P. Baggett (Coordinator)

Christopher Ocker

Anne Berliner, California State University, Fresno

This work examines the writings of the Valentinian School of the early church regarding their views on hierarchy, the efficacy and form of ritual, and their attitude on the formation of orthodoxy. It compares them against the writings of Śaṅkara on the teachings of Advaita Vedānta, which mirrors them doctrinally but differs sharply in these three areas. 

 

Joseph A. Glick

Interreligious Textual Parallels and the Construction of Religious Difference

Center for Jewish Studies

WITH HONORS

Deena Aranoff (Coordinator)

Naomi Sheindel Seidman

The term “textual parallel” describes two passages that share some similarity while appearing in the literature of distinct religious traditions. This thesis examines how religious communities borrow passages and create parallels. In turn, the project surveys how these parallels help communities to define themselves in relation to others through an in-depth exploration of a Jewish/Christian parable and a Jewish/Islamic maxim.

 

Huntley Vaughn Hoffman II

Critical Boredom

Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University

Jerome P. Baggett (Coordinator)

Naomi Sheindel Seidman

Boredom did not become a major philosophical or literary theme until the modern era. The thesis suggests that the mood is perpetuated by modern cultural trends, and engages with thinkers from Kierkegaard to David Foster Wallace who draw connections between boredom and trends such as consumerism and technological distraction and critique these trends through the lens of the mood.

 

Todd Jordan

Non-Narrative and Narrative in Pastoral Care

Institute of Buddhist Studies

Daijaku Judith Kinst (Coordinator)

Seigen Haruo Yamaoka

This thesis examines the use of personal narrative to support a form of spiritual coherence that relies on language and stories. It compares this to a form of non-narrative visceral coherence supported through practice and community, and suggests that the two approaches are not only complimentary, but complete each other.

 

Maureen Elisa Kennedy

Stewardship for Familiar Strangers: The Language of Personhood and Its Impact on Medical Decision-Making for Individuals With Alzheimer's Disease

San Francisco Theological Seminary

Gregory Anderson Love (Coordinator)

Lisa Fullam

William R. O'Neill, S.J.

This thesis explores how the language used to describe individuals with Alzheimer’s disease informs every step of the medical decision-making process, from writing the instructions of one’s advance directive, to how healthcare proxies make decisions on behalf of principals with dementia, to how communities support Alzheimer’s patients and their families. What we believe about the identity of individuals with Alzheimer’s impacts how we conceptualize their interests.

 

Ahmed M. Khater

A Theoretical Study of Classical Islamic Jurisprudence: The Application of Marjūh Legal Opinions

Center for Islamic Studies

Munir Jiwa (Coordinator)

Marianne Farina, C.S.C.

Hatem A. Bazian, University of California, Berkeley

This work discusses the legal precedent of issuing marjūh edicts based upon the systematic application of Islamic legal theory and legal maxims. A detailed look is taken at the application of marjūh legal opinions and the justification made by classical jurists, drawing upon their interpretation of the letter and spirit of the law to contextualize classical jurisprudence in the modern period for Muslim minorities in the West.

 

Joanne Laurence

Healing Through Death: Integrating Hospice Chaplaincy with Buddhist Healing Principles

Institute of Buddhist Studies

Daijaku Judith Kinst (Coordinator)

David Matsumoto

Paula Arai, Louisiana State University

This thesis presents a discussion of the intersection of two healing paradigms: the ten principles in the way of healing, by Paula Arai, and the hospice medical model. The purpose of their intersection is to provide a reliable and complimentary approach for hospice chaplains to apply to their work with the terminally ill. This approach, once integrated by chaplains, enables a deepening of understanding and a more nuanced ability to respond. The real life case studies are taken from work as a hospice chaplain, and examine the genuine support the principles provide in the context of death and dying. Though the principles are grounded in Buddhist philosophy, the use of the healing principles is not limited to a Buddhist audience.

 

Andrew K. Lee

Brendan’s Nameless Monks: A Spiritual Reading of the Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis

San Francisco Theological Seminary

WITH HONORS

Elizabeth Liebert, S.N.J.M. (Coordinator)

Arthur G. Holder

Rebecca Button Prichard, Chapman University

Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatisi tells the story of St. Brendan’s fantastic journey to the Promised Land while serving as an allegory of monastic life and spirituality. This thesis argues that the monks who travel with Brendan are notably passive, which allows the text to teach that obedience leads to faith and that spiritual health is impossible without spiritual direction. 

 

Cara Nicole Levin

A Sign Upon Your Hand

Center for Jewish Studies

Deena Aranoff (Coordinator)

Naomi Sheindel Seidman

This thesis explores the complex and multifaceted relationship Jews have with tattooing. It explores the history of the practice as it relates to Judaism as well as the ways that modern Jews engage with tattoo art, and demonstrates that for many Jews the choice to be tattooed can in fact be understood as a means of Jewish expression and an indicator of membership in the Jewish community.

 

Noah Adrien Lyons

“Prism, Mirror, Lens”:  Negotiating Religion, Apocalypse, and Science Fiction in Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren

Pacific School of Religion

WITH HONORS

Devin P. Zuber (Coordinator)

Yii-Jan Lin

This thesis explores how language and images of apocalypse in Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren act as disruptions and reconfigurations to the novel’s form, and its reoccurring end(s). It proposes that, via interdisciplinary readings, Delany’s interplay of apocalypse, science fiction, and religion can serve as a hermeneutical tool for the re-enchantment of contemporary literature, and the reinscription of the mystical into the novel.

 

Sara Elizabeth Ortiz

An Exploration of Luke 8:26-39

San Francisco Theological Seminary

Annette Weissenrieder (Coordinator)

Gregory Anderson Love

Through a detailed exploration of Luke 8:26-39 “The Exorcism of the Demon Called Legion," this thesis examines the impact Jesus had on individual, society, and nation within one event. The story showcases key traits of the historical Jesus: his Jewishness, his reputation and skill as a healer/exorcist, his message of compassion, his inclusive ministry, and his role as a spiritual warrior.

 

Sammy Aziz Rahmatti

Understanding and Countering Islamophobia

Center for Islamic Studies

Munir Jiwa (Coordinator)

Judith A. Berling

Given the Islamophobia in the public sphere in the United States, including in various media, this thesis presents responses to Islamophobia both in and outside the academy, by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, to contribute to a fuller account of this phenomenon. Getting to know Muslims beyond media stereotypes through interfaith dialogue is an important way to counter Islamophobia. 

 

Austin Rauhuff

Participation in God: A Comparative Consideration of the Forensic and Effective Aspects of Justification in the New Interpretation of Martin Luther and John Calvin

San Francisco Theological Seminary

Christopher Ocker (Coordinator)

Gregory Anderson Love

New scholarship has demonstrated that justification in the theology of Martin Luther and John Calvin is a broader category than represented by second generation reformers, comprising both a forensic and an effective aspect, the two notions being distinct and inseparable.

 

Martin Danner Rawlings-Fein

Beyond David and Jonathan: Bisexual Representation in the Tanakh

Center for Jewish Studies

Naomi Sheindel Seidman (Coordinator)

Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé

Was King David a bisexual? Given the narrative nature of the Bible, the eroticism of David's relationship with Jonathan, and passionate relationships with women, the author(s) have written a bi+ character. This paper explores this interpretation of David, from the erotic removal of Jonathan's armor, to the taking of Bathsheba, towards a narrative bisexual reading of the Bible as a whole.

 

Jeffrey Austin Salzwedel

Okakura Kakuzō and the Religion of Teaism: Ecotonal Narratives of Art and Nature in The Book of Tea

Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University

WITH HONORS

Kathryn Barush (Coordinator)

Devin P. Zuber

Gregory Levine, University of California, Berkeley

The religion of Teaism, which art historian Okakura Kakuzō presented to his American audience in The Book of Tea (1906), was not a historically accurate depiction of the Japanese tea ceremony. Closer examination of Teaism’s transnational origins highlights the ways in which a premodern multisensory culture was reimagined to provide a “salvific religion” for the challenges of modernity.

 

Alistair Frederick Shanks

An Examination of the Zen Hospice Project Volunteer Training Program: Implications for the Practice of Buddhist Pastoral Care

Institute of Buddhist Studies

Daijaku Judith Kinst (Coordinator)

Seigen Haruo Yamaoka

An examination of San Francisco’s Zen Hospice Project Volunteer Training provides insight into how Buddhist spiritual care can be presented and applied in a non-Buddhist setting. This thesis establishes the importance of mindfulness as the basis for Buddhist pastoral care and draws a connection between the ZHP model of training and end-of-life care and the work of the Buddhist chaplain.

 

Asif Ali Sheikh

The Transformation of Sufi Metaphysical Thought in South Asia

Center for Islamic Studies

WITH HONORS

Munir Jiwa (Coordinator)

Marianne Farina, C.S.C.

One of the more intriguing accounts in Islamic thought is the relationship between metaphysical studies on spirituality. This study traces this relationship through an exploration of the transformation of Sufi metaphysical thought in South Asia from the pre-modern to the modern period. The thesis considers the competing understandings of reason, intuition and revelation as related to spirituality and mysticism. 

 

Paula Kay Thompson

The New Normal: Islam, Countering Violent Extremism and the Creation of ‘Muslim Subjects’ in America

Center for Islamic Studies

Munir Jiwa (Coordinator)

Marianne Farina, C.S.C.

Hatem A. Bazian, University of California, Berkeley

Since September 11, Muslims have encountered increased scrutiny and discriminatory practices. Countering Violent Extremism initiatives in the United States bifurcate Muslims, constructing classes of “good” and “bad” Muslims. This thesis examines various entities alongside the government that create Muslim subjects pliable to American interests, finding that separation of church and state are not mutually constitutive in this case.

 

Pitt Visessuk

Upeakkhā (Equanimity) in Definition of Thai Forest Theravada Buddhist Tradition: Applications in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care

Institute of Buddhist Studies

Daijaku Judith Kinst (Coordinator)

Seigen Haruo Yamaoka

Being burned out in pastoral care service is a problem that many caregivers encounter. Cultivating Equanimity allows the chaplain to stay balanced and detached while being loving, compassionate and sympathetic in his/her ministry. Equanimity also helps a chaplain sustain his/her spiritual wellness. This paper describes Equanimity, its relationship to the Three other Brahmavihāras, and its role in effective pastoral care. Three case studies illustrate that Equanimity is an essential attitude for a caregiver to adopt, cultivate and develop in order to serve more effectively.

 

Master of Arts with a Concentration in Biblical Languages

Faletoi Aofia

Pacific School of Religion

Yii-Jan Lin (Coordinator)

Jean-François Racine

Biblical Greek (Primary)

Biblical Hebrew (Secondary)

English (Modern Language)

 

Christopher S. Brannan, O.P.

Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Barbara Green, O.P. (Coordinator)

Jean-François Racine

Biblical Greek (Primary)

Biblical Hebrew (Secondary)

French (Modern Language)

 

John Russell Camden

Pacific School of Religion

Aaron Brody (Coordinator)

Barbara Green, O.P.

Tiberian Masoretic Hebrew (Primary)

Biblical Greek (Secondary)

French (Modern Language)

 

Naeyoun Cho

Pacific School of Religion

Aaron Brody (Coordinator)

Gina Hens-Piazza

Biblical Hebrew (Primary)

Biblical Greek (Secondary)

English (Modern Language)

 

Colby Roberts

Church Divinity School of the Pacific

Steed Vernyl Davidson, McCormick Theological Seminary (Coordinator)

Barbara Green, O.P.

Biblical Hebrew (Primary)

Biblical Greek (Secondary)

French (Modern Language)

 

Romeo Isaia Seiuli

Pacific School of Religion

Aaron Brody (Coordinator)

Yii-Jan Lin

Biblical Hebrew (Primary)

Biblical Greek (Secondary)

English (Modern Language)

 

Doctor of Philosophy

Richetta Najuma Amen

The Lukan Parable of the Great Supper: A Womanist Socio-Historical Reading of Slavery and Resistance Using the Amended Parable Theory of Octavia E. Butler

Biblical Studies

Eugene Eung-Chun Park (Coordinator)

Jean-François Racine

Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan, Shaw University Divinity School

Steed Vernyl Davidson, McCormick Theological Seminary

This project develops a theory of reading the parables of Jesus based on the works of African-American feminist novelist Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006). It then applies this theory within a Womanist socio-historical context to the Lukan Parable of the Great Supper (Luke 14:15-24) to create a short narrative recontextualized reading of resistance.

 

Wendy Monique Arce

Reel Negotiations: Exploring the Relationship between Film, Religion and Sexuality in the Latino Community

Interdisciplinary Studies

Eduardo C. Fernández, S.J. (Coordinator)

Bernard Schlager

Mary Beltrán, University of Texas at Austin

U.S. Latinx youth are disproportionately affected by unwanted, teenage pregnancies among Latinas and mental/sexual health issues among LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) identified individuals. These issues arise primarily because of the internalization of problematic gender roles in Latino religion and culture and the perception of Latina/os in U.S. media. This dissertation integrates religious and cultural studies, sociology, and media studies to investigate the complexity of intergenerational conflicts and sexuality among U.S. Latinxs.

 

Lalnunzira Bungsut

Purity and Group Identity in the Book of Ezekiel

Biblical Studies

Gina-Hens Piazza (Coordinator)

Aaron Brody

Ann Swidler, University of California, Berkeley

The dissertation investigates the concept of purity in the book of Ezekiel in relation to group identification. It examines how the idea of purity plays an important role in drawing the distinction between the exiles and those who remained in Judah during the exilic period. The study reveals that the book of Ezekiel represents the non-exilic group as the impure people whereas the exiles are represented as Yahweh's chosen Israel.

 

Robert Daren Erisman

Tawhid and Trinity: Developing the Contours of a Muslim and a Christian Understanding of the Unity of God through the Intellectual Intersection of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Thomas Aquinas

Systematic and Philosophical Theology

Ted F. Peters (Coordinator)

Michael J. Dodds, O.P.

Syed Nomanul Haq, University of Pennsylvania

Frederick M. Denny, University of Colorado

This project argues that the writings of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) influence Thomas Aquinas’s understanding of the unity of God. It also discerns the outlines of Muslim and Christian perceptions of the unity of God through this intellectual intersection and through a study of the related metaphysical concepts of ‘being’ and ‘unity’ as perceived through Greek, Christian and Muslim lenses.

 

Laurie J. Garrett-Cobbina

Pedagogy of Possibility and Pastoral Care of Promise: A Critical Pedagogy of Care for African American Women in Higher Education

Interdisciplinary Studies

Boyung Lee (Coordinator)

Herbert Anderson

Zeus Leonardo, University of California, Berkeley

Addie Lorraine Walker, SSND, Oblate School of Theology

This study investigates academic attainment for African American women. It identifies white supremacy as the central problem of human relations and demystifies it as the grief industrial complex that affects academic relationships and educational attainment. The research builds a race-relevant and gender-conscious critique of critical pedagogy for its humanizing possibilities and pastoral care for its healthy promise.

 

Lauren Frances Guerra

Beautified by the Spirit: Community Murals as a Liberative Source for Constructive Pneumatology

Systematic and Philosophical Theology

Jay Emerson Johnson (Coordinator)

Eduardo C. Fernández, S.J.

Cecilia González-Andrieu, Loyola Marymount University

This dissertation explores how the Holy Spirit’s association with sanctification in the Trinitarian economy of salvation is best understood as a process of beautification for the sake of liberation from oppression. Popular religion (as illustrated by community murals) serves as a key source for a constructive pneumatology rooted in beauty and provides a vital form of theological insight into how the Holy Spirit sanctifies in daily life.

 

Jeffrey Howard Hoffmeyer

Saved by Beauty: The Saving Enactment of the Triune God’s Kenotic Beauty in the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, According to Hans Urs von Balthasar

Systematic and Philosophical Theology

Gregory Anderson Love (Coordinator)

Bryan Kromholtz, O.P.

Mark Labberton, Fuller Theological Seminary

Primarily through the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar, this dissertation supports the idea, so succinctly stated by Dostoevsky, that “Beauty will save the world.” The beauty that saves is the kenotic beauty of the immanent Trinity. In Jesus, God recapitulates this beauty within creation and so brings about the victory and restoration of beauty in the world.

 

Milutin Janjic

Leningrad’s Religious-Philosophical Seminar: A Place of Encounter Between Text and Mission

Interdisciplinary Studies

John Klentos (Coordinator)

Eduardo C. Fernández, S.J.

Victoria Frede Montemayor, University of California, Berkeley

This dissertation proposes a new approach to Orthodox missiology. It explores martyria – personal witness of faith – following religious conversion and how it becomes expressed in creative works. The study demonstrates the changes in a converted person’s life (metanoia) through textual analysis of religious-philosophical writings and poetry published in the samizdat journal 37 of the Leningrad seminar in the 1970s.

 

Wanjoong Kim

The Word Beyond Words: An Interreligious Study of the Nature of Language in the Christology of Cyril of Alexandria from the Prasaughika Madhyamaka Perspective

Systematic and Philosophical Theology

Thomas Cattoi (Coordinator)

Moses Penumaka

Bruce Williams, University of California, Berkeley

From a comparative theological analysis of the nature of language from a Buddhist perspective, as presented by Nagarjuna, this dissertation discovers in the theological methods of Cyril of Alexandria that only our language use as semantically ambiguous is proper for speaking about the ineffable mystery and consequently our knowledge of the mystery is meant to be ambiguous. 

 

Carmen Rae Lansdowne

Bearing Witness: Wearing a Broken Indigene Heart on the Sleeve of the Missio Dei

Interdisciplinary Studies

Philip L. Wickeri (Coordinator)

Eduardo C. Fernández, S.J.

Jenny Plane Te Paa, College of St. John the Evangelist

Thomas Biolsi, University of California, Berkeley

This dissertation constructs an indigenous theology of mission by interrogating differences between Western and indigenous epistemologies to broaden Christian missiological discourse. Specifically: 1) the current ‘dependency’ model of missiology is unsustainable; 2) dialogue between dominant and oppressed in societies is an end in itself, not a means to an end; and 3) the world holds enough resources for all.

 

Jong-Tae Lee

“Into the Region of Awe:” C.S. Lewis, Wonder, and the Re-Enchantment of the World

Christian Spirituality

Arthur G. Holder (Coordinator)

Joseph D. Driskill

Susan S. Phillips

Anita M. Houck, Saint Mary’s College

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) sought to “re-enchant” the world by rehabilitating a Platonist, sacramental ontology, a metaphysics of participation, the demise of which, in modernity, was pivotal to the process of disenchantment. Central to understanding Lewis’s sacramental view of reality are his conversion experience – “Joy” as desiderium naturale – and his spirituality of wonder as “contemplative seeing.”

 

Austin Leininger

Holy Baptism, Holy Eucharist, Holy Sex: A Sacramental Approach to Sexual Ethics

Ethics and Social Theory

Lisa Fullam (Coordinator)

Jay E. Johnson

Ellen K. Wondra, Bexley Hall Seabury Western Theological Federation

Four critical questions frame this work: What would sexual ethics look like if sex were treated as a gift and an access point to God’s grace? What can we learn about sex from Baptism and Eucharist? What can we learn from sex about God, relationship, and experiences of sacramental grace? And finally, how might this change our perspective on what constitutes “morality” in sexual relationship? 

 

Kathryn Moles

Progressive Religious Communities as a Practical Alternative to U.S. Public Schools for Comprehensive Sexuality Education

Ethics and Social Theory

Jerome P. Baggett (Coordinator)

Boyung Lee

Lisa Fullam

Kristin Luker, University of California, Berkeley

This project examines how a Christian ethic, which holds sex to be sinful outside of patriarchal, heterosexual marriage, influences U.S. public policies, discourses, attitudes and religious institutions related to sexuality. Focusing on sex-ed, the dissertation suggests a model free from religious ideology that examines this ethic for public schools and why/how progressive religious communities should discuss sexuality and offer/advocate for sex-ed.

 

Braden Molhoek

Reinhold Niebuhr's Theological Anthropology in Light of Evolutionary Biology: Science Shaping Anthropology Shaping Ethics

Ethics and Social Theory

Lisa Fullam (Coordinator)

Ted Peters

Michael Spezio, Scripps College

This dissertation places Reinhold Niebuhr’s anthropology into conversation with insights from the natural sciences and the theology and science dialogue. Particular attention is given to original sin and original righteousness. The revised anthropology is then used to examine issues of method in virtue ethics, environmental ethics concerns, and sin and the proper use of biotechnology.

 

Sheri Marie Prud'homme

Gleam of the Infinite Majesty:  The Interplay of Manifest Destiny and Ecotheology in Thomas Starr King’s Construction of Yosemite as Sacred Text

Interdisciplinary Studies

Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé (Coordinator)

Randi J. Walker

Dan McKanan, Harvard Divinity School

In the mid-nineteenth century, Thomas Starr King turned to Yosemite as a sacred text. His nature sermons reveal his complicity with Manifest Destiny and white-world making as well as the liberative, life-giving aspects of his theology of nature. This dissertation enables theologians of the liberal religious traditions descended from King to more fully understand the theological heritage informing their contemporary ecotheologies.

 

Seumaninoa Puaina

Beyond Universalism: Unraveling the Anonymous Minor Characters in Matthew 15:21-28

Biblical Studies

Gina Hens-Piazza (Coordinator)

Yii-Jan Lin

Miryam Sas, University of California, Berkeley

“Jesus and the Canaanite Woman” in Matthew 15:21-28 traditionally reads past the minor and anonymous supporting players as worthy and valuable characters in and of themselves. However, this character study provides a sound framework to demonstrate how the Canaanite woman and her daughter can be read and elaborated. Furthermore, it provides a sound text study for new homiletical possibilities.

 

Oliver Putz

God’s Self-Communication in an Evolving World: Evolution, Self, and Transcending Being

Systematic and Philosophical Theology

Robert J. Russell (Coordinator)

George E. Griener, S.J.

Ted F. Peters

Gordon G. Gallup, Jr., State University of New York at Albany

The study explores the possibility of nonhuman animals being capable of experiencing the transcendent. Identifying some animals as transcendentally constituted beings (Dasein), the study comes to the conclusion that some nonhuman animals possess protoreligiosity and stand in a species-special personal relationship with God. 

 

Alan Mark Shore

Arena of Protest: The Staging of Jewish-Christian Discourse at Madison Square Garden in the Nazi Era

History

Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, Seminary of the Southwest (Coordinator)

Naomi Sheindel Seidman

Deena Aranoff

Randi J. Walker

Yaakov Ariel, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This dissertation traces the development of Jewish-Christian discourse in the United States beginning with the rise of the Hitler regime through the end of World War II. It argues that the genesis and expansion of Jewish-Christian inter-religious dialogue is rooted in this time frame, rather than in the years following the war as is commonly thought.

 

Benjamin Su

An Intimate Liberation: Finding Language for Latin American Liberation Theology

Interdisciplinary Studies

Naomi Sheindel Seidman (Coordinator)

Gabriella Lettini

Roberto Goizueta, Boston College

My dissertation considers the social and poetical functions of language – beyond the semantic, which is involved in meaning and representation – that might help Latin American Liberation Theology accomplish what Gustavo Gutiérrez has called “libertad para,” a freedom for others, especially through our becoming “libres para amar.”

 

Mariusz Robert Tabaczek, O.P.

Emergence and Divine Action: Exploring the Dispositional View of Causation as a New Philosophical Foundation

Systematic and Philosophical Theology

Michael J. Dodds, O.P. (Coordinator)

Robert J. Russell 

Margarita Vega

Terrence W. Deacon, University of California, Berkeley

This dissertation shows that dispositional metaphysics and its corresponding view of causation can serve as a new philosophical foundation for the dynamic model of emergence developed by Terrence Deacon and reconcile it with Aristotelianism. Moreover, it also demonstrates that Deacon’s view of emergence, understood in terms of formal and final causation, supports, in turn, a retrieval of Aquinas’ view of divine action, and its application in theological reflection inspired by the theory of emergence.

 

Pui Fong Wong

From Solitude to Solidarity: A Neo-Confucian Appropriation of Centering Prayer in the Transformation of Self

Christian Spirituality

Arthur G. Holder (Coordinator)

Judith A. Berling

Eleanor H. Rosch, University of California, Berkeley

This dissertation explores how Thomas Keating’s teaching on Centering Prayer is supported and expanded by Zhu Xi’s teachings on quiet-sitting and cosmology (namely the li-qi theory, zhong-yong principle, and complementary polarity). Christians (particularly from East Asia) may have an enriched understanding of the value of contemplation and its significance in transforming the self towards solidarity, as exemplified in Centering Prayer.

 

Wai-Yin Christina Wong

Women’s Work for Women: Chinese Christian Women and Western Missionaries in Canton, South China

Interdisciplinary Studies

Philip L. Wickeri (Coordinator)

Judith A. Berling

Angela K.C. Leung, University of Hong Kong

Through a regional study of Christian women’s work at the Canton Mission of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America from 1847 to 1938, this dissertation demonstrates the dynamic intercultural cooperation and negotiations of “women’s work for women” between and among Chinese Christian women and women missionaries. It also examines the network of the local Christian Women’s community, which expanded through denominational and interdenominational ties, social, individual, as well as national and transnational relationships.  

 

Beringia Zen

Shame to Hospitality: A Post-Holocaust Biblical Hermeneutic

Christian Spirituality

Barbara Green, O.P. (Coordinator)

Arthur G. Holder

Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski

Dorothy J. Hale, University of California, Berkeley

In this study of Christian spirituality, I suggest that shame for the history of Christian anti-Judaism can be transformative, but it can also stigmatize the biblical text. A hermeneutic of hospitality can transignify shame and interrupt the shaming cycle. Interpretative hospitality helps a biblical scholar engage an anti-Jewish text with openness, while still setting limits for acceptable interpretation. 

 

Doctor of Theology

Wandahilin Kharlukhi

East-West Cultural Synthesis: Toward a Cosmic-Pneumatic Christology for Indigenous Khasi Christianity of Northeast India

Systematic and Philosophical Theology

Marion Grau (Coordinator)

Thomas Cattoi

Andrea Smith, University of California, Riverside

This dissertation attempts to develop a cosmic-pneumatic Christology for Indigenous Khasi Christian theology of Northeast India. By synthesizing two cultural traditions – the Khasi and Christian traditions – it articulates a Christology that is more culturally and locally relevant to Khasi Christianity. The significance of this is the emergence of a contextualized form of Christology deeply rooted in Christian tradition but accommodative of new resources drawn from Khasi religious-cultural tradition. 

 

John Barry King, Jr.

The One, the Many, and the Philosophy of Science: A Comparison of Trinitarian and Buddhist Epistemologies

Systematic and Philosophical Theology

Ted F. Peters (Coordinator)

Robert J. Russell

Thomas Cattoi

Richard K. Payne

This dissertation compares Trinitarian and Buddhist epistemologies relative to the benchmark of scientific knowledge. Trinitarian theology grounds science because it embraces both oneness and manyness. By contrast, Theravadin Adhidhamma fails outright because its radical pluralism dissolves mental operations. Between these extremes Tibetan Madhyamaka and Zen provide a dialectic of oneness and manyness in which science is neither ngrounded or destroyed.