2015 Issue

2015 Journal Cover

The 14th volume of the Journal is ready to view! Click above to be transferred to the 2015 issue of The Denison Journal of Religion.

Evil and Theodicy in Hinduism; by Sunder Willett, ’15

Evil and Theodicy in Hinduism

By Sunder Willett, ’15


The concept of evil  colors much of today’s understanding of the world. In “The Abuse of Evil,” Richard Bernstein writes that evil is often used to obscure, to demonize and to stifle intelligent dialogue about serious issues. By calling something evil one can avoid having to understand and analyze the conditions which allowed such events to occur. And yet what exactly is meant by the term evil? Due to the moral connotations of evil, there tends to be a generalization of evil as an absolute term. However, even in the supposedly secular United States of America, there is a distinctively Christian bias to the popular understanding of evil: that it is unnatural, wrong and in need of subjugation. But is this understanding true outside of a Christian frame of reference?

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Interpreting Sati: The Complex Relationship Between Gender and Power In India; by Cheyenne Cierpial, ’16

Interpreting Sati: The Complex Relationship Between Gender and Power In India

By Cheyenne Cierpial, ’16

A recurring theme encountered in Hinduism is the significance of context sensitivity. In order to understand the religion, one must thoroughly examine and interpret the context surrounding a topic in Hinduism. Context sensitivity is necessary in understanding the role of gender and power in Indian society, as an exploration of patriarchal values, religious freedoms, and the daily ideologies associated with both intertwine to create a complicated and elaborate relationship. The act of sati, or widow burning, is a place of intersection between these values and therefore requires in-depth scholarly consideration to come to a more fully adequate understanding. The controversy surrounding sati among religion scholars and feminist theorists reflects the difficulties in understanding the elaborate relationship between power and gender as well as the importance of context sensitivity in the study of women and gender in Hinduism.

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Poetic Justice: Hip-Hop and Black Liberation Theology; by Mimi Mendes de Leon, ’14

Poetic Justice: Hip-Hop and Black Liberation Theology

By Mimi Mendes de Leon, ’14


“It’s bigger than hip hop, hip hop, hip hop, hip

It’s bigger than hip hop, hip hop, hip hop, hip hop”

– Dead Prez “Hip hop”


When Macklemore, a white rapper from Seattle, won the 2013 Grammy for best rap album, The National Review joined the ensuing debate over the outcome of the awards ceremony, arguing that the Grammys put “politics before music.” By politics here, The National Review meant the public debate over social issues—in this case gay rights. Macklemore’s album featured the chart topping “Same Love,” the summer anthem for the marriage equality movement, and his win seemed, to The National Review, to be a statement of support from the music industry to the movement. Continue reading

Seeing and Being Seen at the Margins: Insight into God from the Wilderness; by Luke Hillier, ’15

Seeing and Being Seen at the Margins: Insight into God from the Wilderness

By Luke Hillier, ’15

Introduction: “She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar.” (Gen. 16:1)

Throughout the history of the Jewish and Christian religious traditions, Hagar has been a character in the biblical story who has often gone unnoticed and overlooked. Her story, which takes place only in the sixteenth and twenty-first chapters of Genesis, is one that easily falls into obscurity, overshadowed by the ongoing narrative of Abraham and Sarah which is emphasized by the narrator and the faith traditions at large. In fact, the majority of the commentary regarding the account, which deals with the decision to use Hagar as a surrogate mother in order to ensure that Yahweh’s promise to Abraham is fulfilled, does not even take Hagar’s perspective into consideration, focusing instead on what the experience meant for Abraham and Sarah and what the theological implications of it are.

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The Catholic Worker Movement; by Victoria Newman, ’15

The Catholic Worker Movement

By Victoria Newman, ’15

The Catholic Worker movement, founded in 1933, has sprawled from its humble beginnings to become an international network of communities, remaining continually “committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and forsaken.”  The movement was originally spearheaded by French peasant Peter Maurin and Catholic convert journalist Dorothy Day.  Understanding the Catholic Worker as an intentional community movement requires the historical background of its origins (including some biography of its founders), an analysis of the Catholic Worker’s tradition of resistance, and a study of hospitality as it enables other activities of the community.  The Catholic Worker is unique from many other intentional communities because of its large scope and long tenure of existence and success.  While certainly unique, the Catholic Worker has come to influence other communities that have sprung up in its legacy.  This essay attempts to give a brief and insightful look at that legacy and ultimate impact.

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