Career Transition

As of July 2017 I have formally moved from the department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations to the department of Religious Studies at Penn. The move allows me to do some teaching on religious studies-type topics that are not necessarily linked to East Asia. I will continue to work closely with my colleagues in EALC in fostering robust study of East Asia at Penn while also contributing what I can to the study of religion at Penn.

On that note, a few small announcements:

  • I’m on the planning committee for a series of events about religious freedom organized by Penn’s Center for Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism.  We’ve worked hard on getting a great list of speakers together and we’re excited to have a year-long conversation on this contentious yet important subject.

  • I’m inaugurating a new course called “Violence, Tolerance, and Freedom” in Spring 2018 that looks at how the adjective “religious” has modified those nouns. The course should mesh well with the aforementioned speaker series.

  • I’m coordinating the Center for East Asian Studies Humanities Colloquium for 2017–2018. I’m working on extending invitations to faculty from across the U.S. working on a range of time periods and topics; we should have a fascinating year.

Book Contract with University of Chicago Press

I’m happy to announce that my manuscript Japan, the American Occupation, and the Problem of Religious Freedom has been accepted for publication with University of Chicago Press. The book will appear as part of the new Class 200: New Studies in Religion series edited by Kathryn Lofton and John Lardas Modern. Description of the book follows after the jump.
Continue reading “Book Contract with University of Chicago Press”

Interview at Pause and Select

I had a really great time in a recent interview I did with the YouTube channel Pause & Select.

It was particularly gratifying and amazing to see so many viewers on YouTube and reddit respond to the interview both positively and critically within the first 12 hours or so that it has been up.

I promised at the end of the interview to be in dialogue with viewers, so here are some thoughts on questions that people raised, offered in three broad categories:

Continue reading “Interview at Pause and Select”

What Isn’t Shintō?

Photo credit: Jeordy Meow, Wikimedia Commons

I’m thrilled to report that a panel I’ve organized was accepted for the upcoming annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies. The panel, called “What Isn’t Shintō?” is the first part of what I hope to be a longer-term project (stay tuned for more details). For now, see the panel abstract after the jump:  Continue reading “What Isn’t Shintō?”

A Buddhist Profit? New Post Up At Sacred Matters

September 24 was a big day. I gave the annual Day Lecture at the University of Alabama and I had another blog post go up at Sacred Matters. This piece is my third for the online magazine, which has been a great outlet for some of my “fun” writing projects.

This particular piece is on Buddhism and capitalism. Like my forthcoming article in Material Religion it resists the easy move of saying that using Buddhism to market things is an affront to the tradition. You can read the post here.


I had a full and fulfilling day yesterday at the University of Alabama, where I delivered the 3rd Annual Day Lecture on religion and popular culture. One particularly interesting new experience was that of having my presentation live tweeted by a number of people in the audience. See the feed below: