"Let the universe be intuited and worshiped in all ways. Innumerable forms of religion are possible, and if it is necessary that each become real at some time, then it would at least be desirable that one could have an intimation of many at all times." -- Friedrich Schleiermacher, "Fifth Speech" (from Schleiermacher, On Religion, Crouter translation, 1996, p. 123)
I will be teaching a free, public, online course, sponsored by Fordham University and WFUV, from March through May of 2017. The course is titled "Faith in Music: Sound Theology from the Blues to Beyonce." To learn more and to register, see the course website.
I am associate professor of religion at Fordham University in New York City, where I teach courses on religion, secularity, and theology. I currently serve as the Past-President on the Executive Committee of the Association of Practical Theology.
My Curriculum Vitae can be found here.
The Rock and Theology (2009-2014) archives are here.
My Facebook page is here.
All of my research concentrates on the powers of attention ingredient to how people learn to find something from their culture of special significance for making their way through life.
I'm particularly drawn to how musical experience is significant in that way, or how music influences what is otherwise taken to be the claiming power in people's lives. It is mostly "popular music" that interests me in this regard -- as an influential form of everyday art, experience, and formation in contemporary "secular" cultures around the world. By "musical experience," I mean performing as a musician and/or being a fan of music, I mean seeing live music, listening to it, talking about music, reading about it -- basically everything related to being a part of musical cultures to the extent that music is an effective force in one's life.
I also study how experiences that are "secularly," "spiritually," or "religiously" important for people come about, are conceived, and make a difference in the lives of individuals and communities. Within this focus, I am drawn to the rich and complex interrelationship between (concepts and experiences of) "secular" practices and "spiritual" or "religious" practices and exercises. What compels me is the personal-social importance and complexity of the way that identities are put together whenever they let onto a sense for what matters most. I find that the study of religion and its "others" (such as secularity or irreligion), when related critically to other fields, can help to creatively examine and appreciate these ideas and experiences of what matters most, and the experience-accounts of ultimacy to which they may be tied.
This study of what matters most, and experience-accounts of ultimacy in contemporary culture, has led me to dwell particularly on studies of non-normative affiliation in relation to religious traditions: the practices of people who are marginally-affiliated, multiply-affiliated, non-affiliated -- indeed, the meanings of "affiliation" itself -- or on paths that break new ground outside received "religious" or "nonreligious" categories, that help us think and experience life beyond affiliation and nonaffiliation.
In other words, my research typically studies experiences of what matters most that are tied to "secular," "religious" or "spiritual" practices, in the interest of adding to our understanding of religion and culture, and also in the interest of fashioning a deeper yes to life, and making that yes more possible for others.
An important realm of practice for me in this regard is musicianship. More than thirty years of playing electric bass in rock bands and being an avid participant in popular-music culture continues to form and inform my academic work.
I have been playing electric bass since 1985, and have played in these bands: Vision (Independence, Missouri, 1986-1987); Household Word (Kansas City, Missouri, 1990-1992); (e)X nihilo (Boston, Massachusetts, 1997-1999); Incizion (Boston, 2002-2004); Childhood Scar (Boston, 2004); One15 (San Francisco, California, 2005-2006); Stent (San Jose, California, 2006-2007); Speedwalker (San Jose, 2007-2008); The Particulars (New York, 2011-2015); The Raina (New York, 2011-2016). As of fall 2016, I am collaborating with and playing pickup gigs with various musicians in the New York City area. Music announcements are posted to my Facebook page.
I am married to Dr. Martina Verba, a psychotherapist, and with our daughter we live near New York City. (My contact information: Graduate School of Religion, Fordham University, 441 East Fordham Road, New York, New York, United States, 10458-9993; firstname.lastname@example.org; Facebook here; telephone: 718.817.5965)