A specialist in early Christianity, Dr. Rogers has taught a variety of religion-studies courses to thousands of students at EMU for over 20 years. His book, Theophilus of Antioch: The Life and Thought of a Second-Century Bishop (2000), and related articles since this earlier publication, represents his scholarly work in Patristics. However, his new book, The Intrepid Pilgrim: Exploring Religion in the Global Community, is an entry-level study of five major religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam—and is the product of two decades of researching and teaching world religions (HIST 100). This new book discusses their general histories, primary myths, charming legends, significant persons, theological and ethical issues, denominational branches, major rituals and holy days, and focuses on both common and unique characteristics. “The book is designed,” Rogers says, “as public scholarship, which can be used as a textbook for university students to provide a foundation for further rigorous academic and comparative analysis of the world’s great religions.”
Rogers describes the book as “originally taking shape in my world religions classroom lectures.” Why did he think this work should be published? According to him, “the modern university emphasizes the importance of critical thinking. Thus, the literary inspiration for those lectures and this book is the Latin phrase, Sapere aude (Dare to think!), a famous 18th-century motto of the European Enlightenment, a movement that sought to break with the narrow thought and blind faith of the so-called Dark Ages in order to promote rational objectivity and cultural tolerance. Toward this end, I wanted to write a non-technical introduction to the academic study of world religions, with greater encouragement to engage that study through critical thinking. I conclude the book with a modest and positive assessment of the future of religion, while acknowledging the full cultural impact it has had on society.” Furthermore, “this is a thoroughly secular book, which promotes the appreciation of consensus building in mainstream scholarship and in all academic fields as they contribute to religion studies. In my discussions of each religion, readers are challenged to consider how a disciplined critical, objective and tolerant approach offers them greater clarity, without loss of their values or personal commitments. My book avoids sectarian language and, without reserve, encourages readers to open themselves to other points of view. This approach is practiced by most academic authors in their scholarly professions, but seldom stressed with the public in a book on religion or as pointedly and clearly as it is done here.”
“Too many textbooks and trade books on religion,” claims Rogers, “are hard-driven, some promoting the ‘perennial philosophy,’ that all religions are at their core the same, and others focusing on ‘religious rivalry,’ as all religions attempt to solve problems with the human condition in presumed isolation. Without diminishing or supporting either approach, my book encourages friendly dialogue and greater appreciation for common concerns, while in the interest of understanding, it expands upon the very real diversity of thought and opinion expressed in these distinct religious visions within past and contemporary human cultures. Moreover, my book directs general readers and students to a wealth of recent research that is broader and more extensive than can be found in any of the fine textbooks and trade books on the religion-studies market today.”
For more information about the book and to read a few pages of it, go to: https://hmpublishing.redshelf.com/book/217438/the-intrepid-pilgrim-9780738080475-rick-m-rogers
Congratulations go to Michele Anderson who was recently named National History Teacher of the Year by HISTORY® and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. She was selected for the National History Teacher of the Year Award from more than 1,000 nationwide nominees. She received $10,000 and attended a ceremony in her honor in New York City in December 2014. Anderson, a native of New Boston, Michigan, teaches high school history at John Glenn High School, in Westland, Michigan. She graduated from EMU in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and secondary certification. She earned her masters in history from EMU in 2000. For more about Anderson, go to: http://www.emich.edu/univcomm/releases/release.php?id=1426713536
2014 EMU graduate and Religious Studies minor Michelle Cox has received a full tuition scholarship to attend the University of Arizona Law School, where she will study indigenous and tribal law and policy. Michelle credits her major in Anthropology and minor in Religious Studies with helping to develop her interest in this area: "A lot of my classes in history and anthropology have shown me that indigenous people have gotten the short end of the stick and I don't think that it's their job to fix the mess we made." She also credits Eastern's faculty with helping her to develop her scholarly skills and interests: "At EMU the small class size has given me a lot of opportunity to get to know faculty. A number of faculty have mentored me, especially through helping me hone and develop my research interests through the Undergraduate Symposium." After law school Michelle would like to work on global policy or on more local issues like the Indian Child Welfare Act.
For Sharon Sullivan, a bachelor's degree in History from Eastern Michigan University proved the ideal springboard for a career of Biblical translation and social activism. Sullivan was a non-traditional student when she enrolled at EMU, waiting to begin her studies after she had started raising her four children Mathieu, Josh, Aaron, and Celeste. Even though it had been more than a decade since Sullivan had graduated from Lansing Catholic Central High School, she gained admission to the Honors College and ultimately graduated from EMU magna cum laude with a major in History with a minor in Religious Studies.
Sharon Sullivan recalls fondly her experience taking courses in the history of the Middle East and North Africa at EMU, specifically independent study courses with Professors Phil Schmitz and Jim Egge as well as HIST 339: The Arab-Israeli Conflict with Professor John Knight. She remembers: "I thoroughly enjoyed all of my courses at EMU, and feel privileged for the wisdom these professors imparted to me." While at Eastern, Sullivan twice presented at the Undergraduate Research Symposium and won a Chrysler Symposium Merit Scholarship.
The very week that she graduated from EMU, Sharon Sullivan and her four kids (as well as the family dog) boarded a plane for Israel where they lived for four years. Residing in Holon allowed Sullivan to learn more about the Israelite Samaritans, one of the oldest religious sects in the world and one that exists only in Israel. The family joined a Samaritan community where they immersed themselves in the culture, learning how to read and chant in Ancient Samaritan Hebrew. Sullivan also enrolled in the International School of Hebrew University of Jerusalem where she completed her master's degree in Bible and the Ancient Near East in June 2013.
Connected to her experience and education in Israel, Sullivan completed a translation of the Samaritan Pentateuch (also known as the Torah or the first five books of the Bible). She could not understand why such a translation had never been attempted before and so she persuaded an elderly Samaritan scholar to work with her, and over the course of eight years, the pair completed the task. The Israelite Samaritan Version of the Torah: First English Translation Compared with the Masoretic Version was published by William B. Eerdman's Press in April 2013. Terry Giles of Gannon University has labeled the final product "a significant contribution" and "a welcome addition to the biblical studies library!"
In addition to her translation, Sullivan has also become an activist for human rights. While in Israel, she created a women's peace group for which she was awarded the Samaritan Medal of Peace. Her scholarship and activism has even garnered the attention of the press. Sullivan was the subject of a February 2013 article in Forbes magazine that can be read at http://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphbenko/2013/02/25/to-bring-true-peace-to-the-middle-east-women-in-palestine-and-israel-must-take-center-stage/.
The History Section at Eastern Michigan University congratulates Sharon Sullivan on her many accomplishments and is proud to have played a part in her success.
The EMU History Section congratulates Andrea Christmas on her admission to the Ph.D. program in History at Northwestern University. A native of Riverside, California, Christmas received her bachelor's degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she majored in History and Dance. She began her graduate study at Eastern Michigan University in 2011 and completed her MA in History in Summer 2013. As part of her graduate study, Christmas wrote a master's thesis titled "Masculinity in Nineteenth-Century Paris Opéra Ballet." Directed by Professor Jesse Kauffman, Christmas's thesis looked at male dancers and audience members at the Paris Opéra Ballet during the first half of the nineteenth century, examining the Opéra as site of negotiation for the emergent bourgeois masculinity. As part of her thesis work, Christmas visited Paris, France, where she performed archival research at Bibliothèque-musée de l'Opéra, Bibliothèque Nationale-Département des Arts du spectacle, and Bibliothèque Nationale-Louvois (Département de la Musique).
Reflecting on her graduate studies at Eastern Michigan University, Christmas notes: "I really appreciated the support and enthusiasm of the faculty throughout my time at EMU. In classes and through work on my thesis I found everyone to be both challenging and encouraging. Lastly, I believe the core curriculum here is very strong. I know that my writing improved dramatically through my Methods course, and that my understanding of the field grew tremendously through my Historiography course. These skills will be very useful to me as I proceed in my doctoral program."
Andrea Christmas begins her Ph.D. at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in September 2013. Northwestern was recently ranked as the fourteenth-best Ph.D. program in the United States, and a leader in the study of European history. Christmas plans to work with Professors Tessie Liu and Sarah Maza, and will continue to study dance and gender in nineteenth-century France.
Professor Emeritus of European History Pamela Graves died December 18, 2012. Professor Graves taught classes in European women's history, European social and intellectual history, and the history of England. She came to the University in 1995 and was the undergraduate advisor for many years. Her publications include Labour Women: Women in British Working-Class Politics, 1918-1939 (Cambridge University Press, 1994) and an edited volume, Women and Socialism, Socialism and Women: Europe between the two World Wars (Berghahn Books, 1998).
History and Philosophy hosts several speakers each year and has an annual Undergraduate Conference in Philosophy.