William H. Swatos, Jr. (1946-2020)

William H. Swatos, Jr. 74, of Galva, IL, died in GMC Medical Center, Sterling, IL on November 9, 2020 due to complications of COVID-19.

A native of West Milford, NJ, he graduated from Transylvania University in Lexington, KY, and earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in sociology from the University of Kentucky. He earned an M.Div. from the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Lexington and was ordained a priest while serving at the Church of the Transfiguration in Lawrenceburg, KY. He served at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Silvis, IL from 1980-1993. He was a resident of Galva, IL until recently moving to a care facility. 

His academic career included teaching sociology at King College (Bristol, TN), and Augustana College (Rock Island, IL). He was also a non-resident senior scholar in the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University (Waco, TX). As a Fulbright Scholar in 1981, he travelled to Iceland to teach and study Icelandic religion. He was a noted author/editor of over 20 books exploring topics in the sociology of religion. He served as Executive Officer of the Religious Research Association from 1994 to 2015, Association for the Sociology of Religion from 1997-2012, and as Managing Editor of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion at Baylor University.

He is survived by sons Eric (Elizabeth) Swatos of Prophetstown and Giles Swatos of Tampa, FL, and grandchildren Arthur, Lillian, Claire, and Stephen.  In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to the Alzheimer’s Association, https://www.alz.org/.

Call for contributors to the Routledge International Handbook of Sociology and Christianity

Routledge Publishing is launching the compilation of a new addition to their Routledge International Handbook Series, and we are beginning the search for scholars willing and able to contribute to it. The call for contributors to the Routledge International Handbook of Sociology and Christianity is attached. Would the Religious Research Association (RRA) be willing to place the call on their website or elsewhere in its materials and platforms?  

View this link for more details

Postdoctoral Fellowship: Hartford Institute for Religion Research

Appointment Status:  Non-Tenure Track

The Hartford Institute for Religion Research invites applications for a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Hartford Seminary. The appointment is for two years, with the possibility of an extension.  The start date is September 1, 2020 (or as soon as possible) with a project end date of June 30, 2022. We seek applications from scholars whose research addresses issues at the intersection of religion and congregational research. 

Applicants should be scholars of the social scientific study of religion or religious studies, and experience with religious congregations as organizations is essential.  However, scholars whose interests are in other disciplines such as cultural studies with a focus on race, class or gender in the United States are also encouraged to apply. 

Fellows will be expected to conduct fieldwork, to know ethnographic methods, to be proficient in both office and research software (either quantitative or qualitative), to stay abreast of current literature, and to function as part of a working research team with four research staff and national teams of researchers, scholars and graduate assistants. Fellows will also be encouraged to pursue their own research interests within the bounds of the project and to create their own written products for publication or presentation at professional conferences.  Fellows will be expected to teach one course per academic year at Hartford Seminary.

Applications received by August 24, 2020 will be given full consideration; however, the search will remain open until suitable candidates are found.

Basic Qualifications: Should have received the Ph.D. within the last 5 years in a social science or humanities field with interests in congregations or other religious organizations, but will accept applications from ABD students with expected graduation date by May 2021. Experience in ethnographic methods preferred. Must be able to work with diverse constituencies, be able to conduct research on-site at various congregations, demonstrate technical proficiency, and be able to communicate well both orally and in writing. The successful candidates must demonstrate the ability to work both independently and with teams of researchers in a time-sensitive project.

Questions concerning the position should be addressed to Dr. Scott Thumma

Salary $50,000. Medical benefits and housing are included.

A complete application includes a cover letter outlining relevant education and training experience, an abbreviated CV, and names and contact information for three references.   Please send to Dr. Scott Thumma (sthumma@hartsem.edu ).  Applications received by 8/24/2020 will receive full consideration.

Funding opportunity: call for proposals on gratitude to God

Biola University, with the help of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and under the direction of Peter Hill and Robert Emmons, welcomes proposals from various disciplines to investigate questions that concern gratitude to God*. Letters of intent are due January 29th, 2020.

Proposals may be for projects that utilize the methodologies of the psychological sciences, philosophy, theology, or religious studies. Empirical projects may be multi-method, qualitative, theoretical, cross-cultural, employ behavioral measures, or incorporate developmental approaches (though none of these are required). For the empirical projects, experi­mental methodologies are encouraged. There are four separate award competitions: (1) empirical large grants, (2) empirical early career grants, (3) non-empirical large grants, and (4) non-empirical early career grants. Total funding available for this RFP is $2.8M. For more instructions and more information, visit www.gratitudetogod.com. Queries may be sent to rachel.smith@biola.edu.

We anticipate proposals for empirical and non-empirical projects that address one or more of the questions listed below:

  • What is the basic structure of gratitude to God? How does gratitude to God differ from gratitude to others?
  • Why and how do people express gratitude to God or fail to?
  • How is cosmic gratitude an alternative to gratitude to God?
  • What functions does gratitude to God serve?

*For the sake of this proposal and the anticipated projects that we hope it generates, we are using the term “God” to encompass the supreme God of monotheistic traditions, as well as other supernatural or superhuman beings with agency and powers (gods, spirits, ghosts, saints), whether personal or impersonal, with capacities to “make things happen or prevent them from happening, especially obtaining goods and avoiding bads” (Smith, 2017, p. 22). The phrase “personal or impersonal” implies that the superhuman powers may or may not be believed to possess consciousness, intentions, feelings, desires and other properties of the mind. We use the term “cosmic gratitude” in the RFP to depict the state that is felt by people who are inclined to feel gratitude for things not plausibly attributable to human agency nor to a personal supernatural or superhuman agent (Roberts, 2014).