It’s gonna be forever or it’s gonna go down in flames: Tenure and (In)Justice

Published at Marginalia Review of Books on June 8, 2015. Some might want to stop me right here to explain that academia is a meritocracy, in which hard work, quality scholarship, and intellect are rewarded with stable employment. Academia, you assure me, is built on merit. The deserving get tenure and all the security it …

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Clean Slate

Published on Chronicle Vitae on February 3, 2015. There was my journey from primary sources to a dissertation and from dissertation to manuscript. A ragged and torn poster from 2005 declared that I was once an “emerging scholar.” The poster’s condition felt like a strange symbol of early hope and promise that had been degraded by painful …

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The Altar of Taylor Swift

Published at Sacred Matters on March 9, 2015. I worship at the altar of this songstress born in 1989. I have for, at least, seven years. Her songs punctuate my day, dividing my time between silence, song, and the noise of small children. I listen as I write, as I walk, as I cook, and as …

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Not Quite Home

Published at Bearings on February 12, 2015. The more I thought about attending my previous church, the more I felt that I needed to. I needed to know where they are now, so maybe I could figure where I should be too. They were my map a long time ago, so maybe they could help me …

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Am I an Activist?

Published at Chronicle Vitae on March 26, 2015. Activism appears to have merit when it can be neatly attached to one’s scholarship or a vision of a shared politics. Since most of my work is on religious hate groups, my scholarship didn’t always neatly align with the expectations of departments and search committees. There seemed …

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Words of Wisdom

Published at Huffington Post on April 28, 2015. Sweethearts, there are days in which you’ll feel like a failure too. You aren’t. Your kids will be lucky to have you for your strengths as well as your flaws. Parents are our first cautionary tales. It can’t be helped. “Don’t be me,” was my fervent prayer in …

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The Impermanent Adjunct

Published online at Chronicle Vitae on February 26, 2014. As my year off moves by slowly, I often wonder how I arrived at the situation I am in. Was there a pivotal moment that set me on this path? When did I begin to doubt that I would ever fit neatly within the academy? When did …

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Should We Ban Brilliance?

Published at Chronicle Vitae on February 26, 2015. I feel squeamish about the label of brilliance. The juxtaposition of bossy and brilliant sets my teeth on edge. Maybe, that is because I’m unsure that I’ve ever been called brilliant as a student, researcher, or as a teacher. (Nor did I necessarily expect to be.) I’m …

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