I’ve just returned from Las Vegas, NV after presenting papers at the Association for the Sociology of Religion and American Sociological Association Annual Meetings.
My first paper was part of a great panel of scholars (Orit Avishai, Lynne Gerber, and R. Stephen Warner) contemplating questions of engaged scholarship on religion. The abstract is below.
“Twice as Nice?: Bridging Dual Audiences in Going ‘Public’ with Scholarship on Religion”
ABSTRACT: Doing “engaged” scholarship in the sociology of religion necessitates bridging two disparate potentially overlapping audiences: the “academy” and the “public,” the latter of which includes individuals and groups for whom our work as sociologists carries substantial practical import. How, then, do we present research findings in a way that is both significant in its contribution to existing sociological literature while also being understandable, meaningful, and practically applicable to a broader audience? And how can we reach multiple audiences in sharing our findings? This paper discusses strategies and challenges in disseminating scholarship on religion to multiple and differently situated audiences.
The second, given at ASA, introduced some of the themes I’ve encountered in my new research on “personal parishes” in the U.S. Catholic Church.
Blurring Boundaries in Constructing Religion Locally: Personal Parishes in the U.S. Catholic Church
ABSTRACT: “Personal parishes,” defined in Catholic Canon Law not by territory but by service to a particular population or special need, represent an emergent but understudied model of parish development in the U.S. Catholic Church. With little discussion across dioceses or attention from scholars of religion, their presence in the United States has grown rapidly in the past two decades as a consequence of changes in Canon Law, increased papal receptivity, and advocacy among Catholics both lay and ordained. Personal parishes accommodating various ethnic groups, worship styles, and missions emerge at the intersection of lay mobilization and elite validation, as local bishops independently adjudicate when and which Catholic communities may receive the canonical status of “parish.” This paper offers entre into this reorganization of local religion from territorially-based to identity-driven through a case examination of the Archdiocese of Seattle, where five personal parishes have been established since 2008.