Sacred Space in a Secular Nation of Believers. This project brings architects, social scientists and chaplains into conversation about how secular institutions in three sectors - higher education, healthcare, and the miitary - are responding to religious diversity in their built environments in the contemporary United States. It began with an Exploratory Seminar at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in October 2012. Participants considered how historical and structural factors in each sector shape the ways indivdiual institutions can and do respond to religious diversity. While the demographics of staff and users shape institutional responses, this comparative approach enables us to consider broader factors that shape how architects and users conceive of the sacred and of diversity and how their conceptions shape their designs. This project is a collaboration with Alice Friedman (Wellesley College) and Karla Johnson (Johnson Roberts Associates, Inc).
Prayers in the Senate: A Pilot Study. "In a special way, guide the supercommittee in its challenging work," Senate Chaplain Barry Black prayed on the floor of the Senate in November 2011. Formal prayers - for unity, strength and understanding - are offered as a first order of business on the Senate floor each morning. Dating to 1789, these prayers are offered by the Senate chaplain, visiting religious leaders, and significant public figures from across the United States and around the globe. This pilot study begins to explore those prayers with an eye towards further research. It is conducted with Laura Olson (Clemson University) and Margaret Clendenen (Brandeis University) with support from a Jack Shand Research Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Reliigon.
Jewish-Buddhist Relations. This project explores the relationship between Judaism and Buddhist historically and in the contemporary United States through interiews with senior teachers teaching at their intersections. It considers the factors that led to these interactions, the ways each tradition has impacted the other, and the ways teachers think about their religious and spiritual identities. In addition to materials for academic audiences, we are preparing teaching guides and curriculuar materials that will assist interested faculty in teaching about Jewish-Buddhist relations. This project is being conducted with Emily Sigalow (Brandeis University) and Sara Shostak (Brandeis University) and is supported by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.
Hospital Chaplaincy as a Profession. This project investigates the development of hospital chaplaincy as a profession from its start at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1925 to the present. It is based on interviews with chaplains across the country as well as a review of historical materials from the Association for Professional Chaplains, the National Association for Catholic Chaplains, and the National Association for Jewish Chaplain. Questions about how chaplaincy transitioned from being a Protestant to an interfaith profession and how issues of religious diversity are negotiated in daily practice are central.
How Parents Remember. This project focuses on a remembrance book parents are invited to write in when they have a child die in one particular hospital. We explore what parents write in this book with attention to how they conceive of their children, what they tell or ask of their children, how they imagine time, and how religious symbols and metaphors are woven through their remembrances. This project is being completed in collaboration with Nicky Fox (Brandeis University) and Qiong Lin.
Religion on the Edge. This edited volume, published by Oxford University Press, stakes claim to an intellectual space that we are individually and collectively shaping within and on the edge of the sociology of religion. On the one hand, we seek to broaden the debates within our sub-discipline. On the other, we seek to bring in new voices from without. We are impressed by the numerous scholars doing interesting, innovative work on religion who do not identify as sociologists of religion. Their research clearly demonstrates how using religion as a window through which to enter core sociological debates can provide powerful insights about religion in the contemporary world and social life more broadly. We hope that this volume will expand our disciplinary conversation, bring the sociology of religion more centrally back into it, and help train future generations of students in more adventurous, creative ways. This is a collaborative project that includes Courtney Bender, Columbia University, Wendy Cadge, Brandeis University, Peggy Levitt, Wellesley College and Harvard University, and David Smilde, University of Georgia.