Professor Tom Beaudoin

Graduate School of Religion | Fordham University, New York City

Expound the inconceivable--endless.

Dogen quoting Rujing in "Everyday Activity," trans. Arnold Kotler and Kazuaki Tanahashi, in Tanahashi (ed.), Treasury of the True Dharma Eye (Boston: Shambhala, 2012), p. 624

My CV is here. Many of my publications are available on this website - please see below, at the bottom of the page.

I work as Professor in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University in New York City. I am committed to deep learning as a way of life, within and across traditions and cultures.

I am interested in how what matters most to people comes about and is practiced, and particularly how the mattering and the practices are entangled in experiences, concepts and accounts considered "religious," "spiritual," "secular," or otherwise marked off as fundamentally special, different, powerful, or definitive.

Research areas:

Theologies, philosophies, and religious studies of practice; Pantheon (Rome) studies; concepts and practices of religious disaffiliation and affiliation; comparative spiritual exercises across religions and cultures; powers of popular music understood as secularly/religiously/spiritually/theologically significant.

Current book projects:

Practicing Nothing is inspired by the substantial turn to nonaffiliation and spiritual diversity in the USA and beyond. It asks how practical theology helps inflect the Christian theological heritage into a more-than-Christian enterprise, capable of serving, promoting, and being changed by its religious and nonreligious “others” as much as by its “home” constituents. The book surfaces the “Christian-centrism” of practical theology, and explores--through discovery-oriented fieldwork in the Pantheon in Rome, and text-based explorations of the concept and practice of nothingness in Kyoto School Japanese philosophy--how Christian-heritage theology can be more-than-Christian.

Faith in Music studies how religious and nonreligious heritages complexly influence popular musicians. These influences appear in their music, which both expresses and reconstructs these "religious" and "secular" heritages. This book also studies how fans are inspired, moved, or guided by their confidence in music's centrality to their lives, in relation to their own "religious" or "secular" heritages. Learning to think, feel, and perceive musical experience in these ways--through careful study of songs, musicianship, and fandom as theologically significant--can contribute to the promotion today of diverse, freeing ways of life... especially when popular music is such an important part of everyday life for so many.

Professional service:

Past President of the Association of Practical Theology; currently on the Editorial Board of the Theology in Practice book series. Chaired the Practical Theology program unit in the American Academy of Religion, the Practical Theology group in the Catholic Theological Society of America, and the Foucault Consultation in the American Academy of Religion. Member of the International Academy of Practical Theology, the Association of Practical Theology, and the American Academy of Religion.


Reading competence in French, German, and Koiné Greek. Since 2017, studying Japanese with Nakanishi-sensei at Japan Society in Manhattan, and learning Italian since 2019.

Fordham University's official news venues featured my work in 2019, 2017, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2013, and 2008.


Contact information: Fordham University, Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education, 441 East Fordham Road, New York, New York, United States, 10458-9993; email:; office phone: +1.718.817.5965.

Pro-labor: Member of the American Association of University Professors since 2006.


Virtual Faith: The Irreverent Spiritual Quest of Generation X (Simon and Schuster/Jossey-Bass, 1998)

Consuming Faith: Integrating Who We Are With What We Buy (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003) + New Preface to the 2006 paperback

Witness to Dispossession: The Vocation of a Postmodern Theologian (Orbis, 2008)

Secular Music and Sacred Theology (editor) (Liturgical Press, 2013)

Academic Writing: Journal Articles, Chapters in Edited Books, Etc.

"Secular Catholic Families: Inheritance and Invention," in Jason King and Julie Hanlon Rubio (eds.), Sex, Love, and Families: Catholic Perspectives (Liturgical Press, 2020) [forthcoming]

"Cultural Catholicism," in Margaret McGuinness and Thomas Rzeznik (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to American Catholicism (Cambridge University Press, 2020) [forthcoming]

“Faith in Music: Attempting a Free, Public, Online Course in Practical Theology,” Practical Matters Journal, Summer 2019, no. 12, 1-14

“Foreword,” in Gregory Baker, Disaffiliating Ministry: Spiritual Growth, Gender, and Christian Ministry (Rowman and Littlefield, 2019), ix-xi

“Why Does Practice Matter Theologically?” in Joyce Ann Mercer and Bonnie J. Miller- McLemore (eds.), Conundrums in Practical Theology (Brill, 2016), 8-32

“De-Konversion und katholische Vielfalt” (co-authored with Patrick Hornbeck), Salzburger Theologische Zeitschrift 19:1, 2015, 39-51

“Postmodern Practical Theology,” in Kathleen Cahalan and Gordon Mikoski (eds.), Opening the Field of Practical Theology: An Introduction (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014), 187-202

“White Practical Theology” (co-authored with Katherine Turpin), in Kathleen Cahalan and Gordon Mikoski (eds.), Opening the Field of Practical Theology: An Introduction (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014), 251-270

“Afterword: Reflections from Ecclesiology and Practical Theology” (co-authored with Bradford Hinze), in Christine Firer Hinze and J. Patrick Hornbeck II (eds.), More Than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church, Volume 1: Voices of Our Times (Fordham University Press, 2014), 179-191

“Deconversion and Ordinary Theology: A Catholic Study” (co-authored with J. Patrick Hornbeck), in Jeff Astley and Leslie J. Francis (eds.), Exploring Ordinary Theology: Everyday Christian Believing and the Church (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013), 33-44

“Teaching Theology in an Atmosphere of Deconversion,” Horizons: The Journal of the College Theology Society 40:2, December 2013, 255-262

“Theology of Popular Music as a Theological Exercise,” in Tom Beaudoin (ed.), Secular Music and Sacred Theology (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2013), ix-xxiv

“Foreword,” in Clive Marsh and Vaughan S. Roberts, Personal Jesus: How Popular Music Shapes Our Souls (Baker Academic, 2013), ix-x

“Everyday Faith in and Beyond Scandalized Religion,” in Gordon Lynch and Jolyon Mitchell with Anna Strhan (eds.), Religion, Media and Culture: A Reader (Routledge, 2011), 236- 243

“Une catéchèse virtuelle. La culture populaire comme lieu d’apprentissage de la foi,” Lumen Vitae: Revue Internationale de Catéchèse et de Pastorale 66:3 (September 2011), 311-321

“Secular Catholicism and Practical Theology,” International Journal of Practical Theology, Vol. 15:1 (2011), 22-37

“Religion, Pop Culture and Virtual Faith” (co-authored with Sylvia Collins-Mayo), in Religion and Youth, edited by Pink Dandelion and Sylvia Collins-Mayo (Ashgate, 2010), 17-23

“Engaging Foucault with Rahner: Sketching an Asymptotic Relationship,” Philosophy and Theology 20:1-2, 2009, 307-329

“The Ethics of Research in Faith and Culture: Scholarship as Fandom?” in Exploring Religion and the Sacred in a Media Age, edited by Christopher Deacy and Elisabeth Arweck (Ashgate, 2009), 23-41

“Asad on the Secular,” Horizons: The Journal of the College Theology Society 35:2, Fall 2008, 349-354

“Popular Culture Scholarship as a Spiritual Exercise: Thinking Ethically With(out) Christianity,” in Between Sacred and Profane: Researching Religion and Popular Culture, edited by Gordon Lynch (I.B. Tauris, 2007), 94-110

“The Theological Anthropology of Thomas Groome,” Religious Education 100:1, Winter 2005, 127-138

“From Singular to Plural Domains of Theological Knowledge: Toward a Foucaultian New Question, ” in James Bernauer and Jeremy Carrette (eds. ), Michel Foucault and Theology: The Politics of Religious Experience (Ashgate, 2004), 171-190

“Toward Being a Theologian of Postmodern Culture,” Budhi: A Journal of Ideas and Culture 8:2/3 (2004), 137-158

“Foucault-Teaching-Theology,” Religious Education 98:1, Winter 2003, pp. 25-42

“‘Virtual’ Catechesis: Religious Formation of the Post-Vatican II Generations,” in Thomas Groome and Harold Horell (eds. ), Horizons and Hopes: The Future of Religious Education (Paulist Press, 2003), 63-80

“Generation X,” in Gary Laderman and Luis Leon (eds.), Religion and American Cultures: An Encyclopedia of Traditions, Diversity, and Popular Expressions (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003), 414-416; second edition (2015), 474-477

“I Was Imprisoned By Subjectivity and Jesus Visited Me: Bonhoeffer and Foucault On the Way to a Postmodern Christian Self,” Currents in Theology and Mission, October 2002, 341-361

“The Church: Defender of Theocapitalism?” Currents in Theology and Mission, October 2002, 362-387

“Virtual faith,” in Charles Winquist and Victor Taylor (eds.), The Routledge Encyclopedia of Postmodernism (New York: Routledge, 2000), 418-419

Public Writing: Contributions to Periodicals, Etc.

“Take My Advice: Teaching an Online Course for the First Time,” Inside Higher Ed (, 15 November 2017

“Pope Francis Can Help Catholics in US Discover Freedom for a New Mission,” Fox News Latino (, 17 June 2015

“Curated Free-Fall: Ignatius of Loyola,” in Catherine Wolff (ed.), Not Less Than Everything: Catholic Writers on Heroes of Conscience, from Joan of Arc to Oscar Romero (New York: HarperCollins, 2013), 13-26

“Spirituality and Practice in Theological Education,” Religious Studies News, American Academy of Religion,, 1 April 2010

“Stairway to Heaven: Can You Be Saved By Rock ’n’ Roll?” (co-authored with Brian Robinette), America magazine, October 26, 2009, 19-21

“Paul of Tarsus and Catholicism Today,” Origins, 30 April 2009, Vol. 38, No. 46, 736-738

“The Best and the Worst: Facing Cancer as a Spiritual Exercise,” America magazine, November 13, 2006, 27-28

“Free Tuition: A Socioeconomic Sign of Peace,” National Catholic Reporter, November 3, 2006, 10a-11a

“Saint Ignatius Loyola and ROTC: Report from Santa Clara University,” The Sign of Peace: Journal of the Catholic Peace Fellowship, Volume 5:1, Spring 2006, 8

“As Newly Minted Celebrity, ‘Terri’ Makes Ideal Political Icon,” San Jose Mercury News, March 27, 2005

“Scandal Land Closeted Spirituality,” Providence Journal, February 11, 2005, B5

“Spirituality and the Challenge of Gift Giving,” Touchstone (National Federation of Priests’ Councils), Vol 20, no. 2, Winter 2005, 12, 26

“The Iraq War and Imperial Psychology,” America, 192:2, January 17, 2005, 14-16

“The Spirituality of Gift-Giving,” Santa Clara Magazine, 46:3, 2004, 10-13

“The Talk That Diminishes Faith,” Op-ed, Washington Post, October 22, 2004, A25

“Consuming Faith,” Tikkun, July/August 2004, 13-14

“In Praise of Young Adult Faith,” Celebration: An Ecumenical Worship Resource, 33:6, June 2004, 243-246

“The Anti-Christian Passion of the Christ,” National Catholic Reporter, March 19, 2004, 22

“What Young Theologians Owe Their Elders,” National Catholic Reporter, October 31, 2003, 11a

“A Spirituality of Mentoring,” America, July 21, 2003, 14-16

“Bishops’ Haste Produces Un-Catholic Policy,” National Catholic Reporter, August 2, 2002, 5 (reprinted in At Issue: Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church (Greenhaven Press, 2003), Louise Gerdes, ed.)

“Our Catholic Watergate: Young Adults and the Present Scandal,” America, June 3, 2002, 18-20

“Liturgy in Media Culture,” America, September 24, 2001, 13-19

“Church Leaders Must Bless, Empower the New Generation,” National Catholic Reporter, October 6, 2000, 6

“Ambiguous Liturgy: Rock Music as Religious Experience,” Books and Culture, Vol. 6 No. 5, September-October 2000, 29

“Spiritual Quests Move Online,” Business 2.0 Magazine, September 26, 2000

“Three's Company: Young Catholics and the Trinity,” U.S. Catholic, September 2000, 21-24

“Kent State and the Next Generation,” America, July 29, 2000, 19-20

“Tracing Justice Issues in a Cup of Coffee,” National Catholic Reporter, July 14, 2000, 20

“Second Thoughts on School of the Americas,” America, November 6, 1999, 20-22

“Evangelical GenX Ministry: Take It and Leave It,” Re:generation Quarterly, November 1999

“A Peculiar Contortion: A Catholic Response to WWJD?,” America, September 18, 1999, 16-19

“What Can Businesses Learn from Today’s Young Professionals?” Experience Magazine, September 1999

“Irreverently Yours: A Message from Generation X,” U.S. Catholic, April 1999, 10-15

“Beginning Afresh: Generation X and Catholicism,” America, November 21, 1998, 10-14

“GenX Spirituality,” Tikkun, September-October 1998, 45, 67

“Virtual Faith: The Gen-X Quest for Meaning,” Christian Science Monitor, August 6, 1998, 11

“GenX Refuses to Buy Into Others’ Agendas,” National Catholic Reporter, April 24, 1998, 20

Renting My Religion: A Theological Meditation,” Re:generation Quarterly 3(3), 1997


Transcript of interview by Rev. Graeme Fancourt, New York City, 2012

“MC Interview: Scholar/Bassist Tom Beaudoin on Rock and Theology,”, February 2011

“Catholics and Pop Culture,” edited by Kerry Weber, Catholic Digest, January 2010, 44- 52

“Meaning, Spirit, and Popular Culture: An Interview with Tom Beaudoin,” edited by Gordon Lynch and Jeremy Nickel, Crucible, Fall 2006, 17-23

Selected Conference/Research Papers and Presentations

"A Practical Theology of the Pantheon," Salesian Pontifical University, Rome, Italy, 2021 [forthcoming]

Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Annual Religious Education Lecture, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, 2020 [forthcoming]

“Containing Nothing: Practical Theology and the Pantheon in Rome: Work in Progress,” International Academy of Practical Theology Biennial Conference, Sao Leopoldo, Brazil, 2019

“Theology as a Form of Experience,” Practical Theology Group and Ecclesial Practices Group, American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Boston, Massachusetts, 2017

“Paths to Framing Why Practice Matters Theologically,” Association of Practical Theology Session, American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Antonio, Texas, 2016

“Who Can Afford Practical Theology? On Opening and Closing the Field,” Practical Theology Group, American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Diego, California, 2014

“Deconversion and Catholic Multiplicity” (co-presented with Dr. Patrick Hornbeck), Practical Theology Group, American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Baltimore, Maryland, 2013

“‘Help My Unbelief’: Deconversion in Catholicism,” Catholic Theological Society of America Annual Convention, Miami, Florida, 2013

“Teaching Theology in an Atmosphere of Deconversion,” College Theology Society Annual Meeting, Omaha, Nebraska, 2013

“The ‘Third Largest Religion:’ Catholics Who ‘Deconvert’ by Leaving or Staying” (co-presented with Dr. Patrick Hornbeck), International Academy of Practical Theology Biennial Conference, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2013

“Roman Catholic Deconversion as Ordinary Ecclesiology” (co-presented with Dr. Patrick Hornbeck), Ecclesiology and Ethnography Conference, St. John’s College, Durham University, Durham, UK, 2012

“Deconversion in Roman Catholicism Today” (co-presented with Dr. Patrick Hornbeck), Biennial Conference, Association of Practical Theology, Princeton, New Jersey, 2012

“Varieties of Deconversion in Roman Catholicism: Work in Progress,” Louisville Institute, Winter Seminar, Louisville, Kentucky, 2012

“Addressing Social and Ecclesial Diseases: Practical Theology’s New Agenda in The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012),” Panel on the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology, Practical Theology Group, American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California, 2011

“The Theologian as the Agent of Dispossession: Theology in the Context of Scandal,” AHRC Research Conference, “Religion, the Sacred, and the Changing Cultures of Everyday Life” (Center for Religion and Contemporary Society, University of London, Birkbeck), St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, 2010

“Spirituality and Theological Education Today,” Theological Education Steering Committee, Special Topics Forum, American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Montreal, Quebec, 2009

“Give it Up/for Jesus: Askeses of Dispossession in Rock and Theology,” Selected Session, Catholic Theological Society of America Annual Convention, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2009

“Spiritual-Political Rhetorics in Studies of Media and Religion,” at “Small Screen, Big Picture” Conference, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, 2008

“Talal Asad on Secularity: The Importance for Catholic Theology,” College Theology Society Annual Convention, Newport, RI, 2008

“The Incitement to Dialogue in Catholic Theology,” Selected Session, Catholic Theological Society of America Annual Convention, San Antonio, TX, 2006

“Dealing with Ourselves: A Theological View of Pop Culture Scholarship,” Religion and Popular Culture Group, American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, 2005

“Practical Theology as Work on Oneself: Foucault and Intellectual Spiritual Exercises,” Practical Theology Group, Catholic Theological Society of America Annual Convention, St. Louis, MO, 2005

“The Cost of Economic Discipleship: Docetism and the Body of Christ Today,” College Theology Society Annual Conference, Jamaica, NY, 2002

“Musicality and Theological Knowing,” Communications Theology Group, Catholic Theological Society of America Annual Convention, Milwaukee, WI, 2001

“(Multiple) Intelligence Test: Is There a Primary Theological Knowledge?,” Colloquium, “Michel Foucault: Religious Explorations,” Loyola University, Chicago IL, 2000

“Plot Unreadability: A Foucauldian Theological Pedagogy,” Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education Annual Conference, Orlando, FL, 1998

“Looking for a Savior: A Theological Interpretation of Jesus in Music Video,” American Academy of Religion Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, 1997

“Generation X and the Cyberspatialization of Religion,” Society for the Scientific Study of Religion Annual Conference, San Diego, CA, 1997

“In Search of the Christic Mind: Generation X, Religion, and Cyberspace,” Northeast Popular Culture Association Regional Conference, Quinnipiac College, Hamden, CT, 1996

Book Reviews

Mass Exodus: Catholic Disaffiliation in Britain and America since Vatican II, by Stephen Bullivant (Oxford University Press), American Catholic Studies [forthcoming, 2020]

Qualitative Research in Theological Education: Pedagogy in Practice, edited by Mary Clark Moschella and Susan Willhauck (SCM), International Journal of Practical Theology [forthcoming, 2019]

Invitation to Practical Theology: Catholic Voices and Visions, edited by Claire Wolfteich (Paulist), Horizons: The Journal of the College Theology Society, 42:2 (December 2015), pp. 505-506

The Politics of Discipleship: Becoming Postmaterial Citizens, by Graham Ward (Baker Academic), Theology Today 68:1 (April 2011), pp. 98-99

Religion After Postmodernism, by Victor E. Taylor (University of Virginia Press), Theology Today 67:2 (July 2010), pp. 231-232, 234

Secularity and the Gospel: Being Missionaries to Our Children, edited by Ronald Rolheiser (Crossroad, 2006), Horizons: The Journal of the College Theology Society 35:2 (Fall 2008), pp. 398-399

Equality and the Family: A Fundamental, Practical Theology of Children, Mothers, and Fathers in Modern Societies, by Don S. Browning (Eerdmans, 2007), Horizons 37:2 (Fall 2010), pp. 364-366

Shaping a Global Theological Mind, Darren C. Marks (ed.), (Ashgate, 2008), in Journal of Contemporary Religion 26:1 (January 2011), pp. 137-138

Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church, by Kenda Creasy Dean (Oxford University Press), America magazine (203:12), 1 November 2010, pp. 14-15

Reading the Bible with the Damned, by Bob Ekblad (Westminster John Knox Press), Theology Today, Vol. 63:4 (January 2007), pp. 510, 512

Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers by Christian Smith, with Melinda Lundquist Denton (Oxford University Press), America, Sept. 19, 2005, pp. 24-25

Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture by Vincent J. Miller (Continuum), Theological Studies, March 2005, pp. 236-237

Godtalk: Travels in Spiritual America by Brad Gooch (Knopf), Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality, Fall 2004, pp. 235-238

Michel Foucault by Sara Mills (Routledge), Literature and Theology Vol. 18, No. 4, December 2004, pp. 491-492

The Predicament of Postmodern Theology: Radical Orthodoxy or Nihilist Textualism? by Gavin Hyman (Westminster John Knox), Princeton Seminary Bulletin, Vol. XXIV, No. 2, 2003, pp. 296-298

Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly (Beacon Publishing, 2002), America, September 1, p. 25, 2003

The New Faithful by Colleen Carroll (Loyola Press, 2002), America, November 11, 2002, pp. 35-37

Religion on Campus: What Religion Really Means to Today’s Undergraduates by Conrad Cherry, Betty Deberg, and Amanda Porterfield (University of North Carolina Press), Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality, 2:2, Fall 2002, pp. 247-249

Young Adult Catholics: Religion in the Culture of Choice by Dean Hoge, Mary Johnson, William Dinges, Juan Gonzales, Jr. (Notre Dame Press, 2001), National Catholic Reporter, May 11, 2001, pp. 41-42

Losing Your Religion, Finding Your Faith by Brett C. Hoover (Paulist, 1998), National Catholic Reporter, September 25, 1998, pp. 18-19

Reconstructing Catholicism for a New Generation by Robert Ludwig (Crossroad), Critical Review of Books in Religion 1996

Selling God by R. Laurence Moore (Oxford), Critical Review of Books in Religion 1995

Photo credit: Mark Selig