Monthly Archives: November 2012

When is Suffering Transformative? Sullivan’s “Living Faith: Everyday Religion and Mothers in Poverty”

On November 14, 2012, I posted this blog on the Black, White and Gray blog, hosted by Patheos. Click here to read the full post.

“According to the women Susan Crawford Sullivan interviewed for Living Faith: Everyday Religion and Mothers in Poverty, what do homelessness, drug addiction, jail time, unplanned pregnancy and domestic abuse all have in common? They are all part of God’s plan to teach poor, young, single mothers that they are sinners in need of repentance. If a narrative of a judgmental God coming down hard on women who suffered due to their lack of personal responsibility strikes you as a problematic narrative, Sullivan and I’m sure most of the readers of this blog would agree with you.

On November 9th, 2012, I convened an author-meets-critics panel at the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion in which we discussed Susan’s book, which has won two awards from major associations in the sociology of religion, and in my comments, I argued that her book is so important to understand when suffering can be transformative among the poor, a topic I also dealt with in my book, Faith Makes Us Live: Surviving and Thriving in the Haitian Diaspora…”

Click here to read the full post.

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What Two Deaths Taught Me about Doing Fieldwork

On November 7, 2012, I published this post on the Black, White and Gray blog hosted by Patheos.

“On this day 16 years ago—November 7, 1996—I walked in to my office at the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress in San Jose, Costa Rica, to find out that my boss, Joaquin Tacsan, had boarded a flight from Port Harcourt to Lagos, Nigeria that had exploded in the air. No one had survived.

Joaquin’s death hit me like a ton of bricks. I had recently graduated from Yale and someone told to apply for an internship at the Arias Foundation. For some reason, Joaquin saw my resume and offered me a job there. In the first 12 months, Joaquin increased my responsibilities, sending me to do fieldwork in El Salvador and Nicaragua on the reintegration of ex-combatants into civilian life, fieldwork that took me into numerous former zones of armed conflict and strongly shaped my later interest in earning a Ph.D. in sociology.

Just a couple of months before Joaquin’s death, I scared the daylights out of him by spending a weekend with a group of ex-Contras in Nicaragua…”

Click here to read the full post.