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Current Projects 

Abusive Rhetoric in the Catholic Church

This summer (May-July 2022), our research project focuses on the study of how rhetoric relates to the abuse of power itself. We will focus on the similarities of rhetoric used by abusers within intimate partner violence and domestic abuse with the rhetoric used by clergy members within the Catholic sex abuse crisis. Relying on our previous research on PTSD, moral injury, and moral distress, we will show how Catholic officials tend to rely on language that appeals to trauma bonds in a way that mirrors the language used by domestic abusers when trying to maintain control over their survivors of CPSA. To work on developing relationships with our local community and establish a more public-facing aspect to our lab, we are networking with community members and nonprofits in hopes of providing insight and direction to the research we will conduct.

Religion, Power, Gender, and Sexuality

This year, the CHIRP lab welcomes a new project and team. The new team will focus broadly on the intersections of religion and power as they relate to gender and sexuality.  For this academic year (2022-2023), our research project focuses on the complex intersections of and entanglements between political theology, gender, and formation. Some questions our work will begin to explore include: How is gender formed by theological beliefs and practices, and how does that impact the political sphere? How has it been formed by societal and political structures and how has that shaped our theological frameworks and practices? How do politics and religion themselves form how we do and think about gender? And finally, how might theological discourse and practice serve as a resource for how we think about and do gender in the political sphere? We will begin to explore these complex, and at times controversial, entanglements through three fronts: descriptive, constructive, and public. We’ll explore what cultural and religious factors shape how we think and do gender in our contemporary landscape. We’ll explore what resources religion offers, looking first to apophatic theology. We will consider how these intersections shape and are shaped by the public, hosting campus and community conversations.

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