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Video

Interview Date

4-15-2002

Abstract

What is the most important task for the teacher of religion today?

Dr. Catherine Bell discusses the difficulty in teaching students that while there are multiple paths to truth, it is important to stake out a set of guidelines that validate truths that pertain to their worldview. Teachers need to model theological perspectives that show the validity of their students’ religious claims without making absolute claims.

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Playing Time: 1:56 minutes

About the Interviewee:

Catherine M. Bell was professor of religious studies, and an internationally renowned expert on ritual and Chinese religions. She joined the University of Santa Clara faculty in 1985 and was named the Bernard Hanley Professor of Religious Studies in 1998.

A native of New York, Bell earned her bachelor’s degree at Manhattanville College and completed her Ph.D. at University of Chicago. She taught in Japan and took a post-doctoral fellowship for Chinese language study in Taiwan. Her work as a fellow of the Center for Chinese Studies at University of California, Berkeley and with the Chinese Popular Culture Project at Berkeley, led to her major work, Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, published in 1992.

A legendary teacher and mentor, Bell regularly taught introductory courses in religious studies and an array of courses on Asian religions. In 2007 she was awarded an NEH fellowship for her final, unfinished project, Believing: Assuming Universality, Describing Particularity in the Study of Religion. Dr. Catherine Bell died in 2008.

About the Interviewer:

Dr. Alfred Benney is a professor of Religious Studies at Fairfield University. He has a Ph.D in Theology from the Hartford Seminary Foundation and teaches courses in Non-Traditional American Religions and Christian Religious Thought. His research interests include "how people learn"; "the appropriate use of technology in teaching/learning" and "myth as explanatory narrative". He has published work on teaching with technology

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