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Philosophy and Literature

Here is a group of selected papers I wrote during the course of my Master’s study at University of Georgia.

The Times, They Are Always A-Changing – April 2007/March 2008

I originally wrote this paper as part of my Thesis research, but the scope proved too wide to include it. Thus, I revised it to present at the SECSOR (Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion) Conference in Atlanta, March 2008.

It analyzes the folk community that revered and eventually scorned Bob Dylan when he used an electric guitar and “betrayed” the movement. In electing Dylan its prophet (and as it is portrayed in Martin Scorsese’s documentary No Direction Home), the folk movement comes to resemble a religious movement. My central question is: What happens when a contemporary figure is idealized, and then he or she eventually changes? How does this affect the community that has built itself around this figure?

The Nature of a Productive Theological Discourse – April 2007

This is a rather informal look at scholarly work on ecumenical discourse; in other words, in discussing theology (as we did in the particular class for which it was written), what are some possible ways to reach a starting point, let alone an agreement?

Religion & Literature

One of my “specialties,” so to speak, in graduate school (other than the ridiculously esoteric and convoluted, yet hopefully intriguing, theories in my Thesis posted elsewhere on this site) was the discipline of Religion & Literature. Basically a marriage of literary and religious theory, Religion & Lit. (at least the way we studied it at University of Georgia) takes a very unique tack on the definition of “religion,” and looks for themes and elements of that definition within classic literature (mostly American & English for our purposes here). Below are a series of papers I wrote during two semesters that fit this bill. Enjoy!

Truthful Fiction vs. Fictional Truth

An inquiry upon the fine line between journalism and fiction. Is an author’s subjective opinion inextricable from his or her work, whether it be “objective” journalism or complete fiction?

The Unconventional Wisdom of Atticus Finch

The title is relatively self-explanatory — the paper invokes a character study of the father figure in To Kill a Mockingbird.

The Existential Dilemma of Our Dear Dr. Frankenstein

How our tragic hero Victor Frankenstein discovers the pain of playing God. Is this what God feels like?

A Reader’s Response to the Critique of Reader-Response Criticism

An open letter to the literary critics who think that they can understand the “true” meaning of an literary work — and that there is only one meaning, and that they know it and you don’t.

Requiem

At the end of my first year of graduate school, when all the previous Religion & Lit. papers had been written, I finally got to write a paper about one of my all-time favorite films — Adaptation.

Biblical Studies

Though my religious scholarship included very little traditional religious study, as you can see from the above papers, my first semester I wrote several papers on Judaism: one speculating the inspiration for many of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the other pontificating on what it means to be Jewish in the modern day. I don’t claim to be an expert on either; feel free to critique wildly.

Prophecy or Coincidence?

A lengthy inquiry into how Jesus fit the Messianic expectations of at least one particular sect.

Jewish Identity in Modern America

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