good morning. i want to thank our host elizabeth and ron for letting me sit in and moderate this special mosaic. the berkeley center for the study of religion . you have to let those words sink in for a minute. the berkeley center for the study of religion. we are pleased to have two distinguished and young professors to help us with that. they are codirectors. mark and jonathan. the -- thank you for being here. >> it is great to be here. >> tell us about your center. >> berkeley center for the study of religion is on the berkeley campus.
we started the center -- to give you the quick general background. it is the center that gathers together a bunch of different faculties from across the campus and also different departments that work on religion and collect in one place. and produce a set of programs that are public that people can come to on all sorts of different topics and religions spanning from the very beginning of recorded history until the present time. berkeley is a place that has always had a tremendous range of different kinds of scholars. and has never had a collection point for bringing energies together. the berkeley study of religion is that. we started it in 2012. that is the fourth or fifth year of real programming. it has been growing strong ever since. it is the first time there has been a real dedicated project
on a religion all -- religion institution. we are proud of the kinds of things we're putting together. >> that is what is exciting here. you are a professor of history. and focused on the protestant reformation and so on. you had a piece in the new york times on john calvin, for which i am grateful for. mark, you are the professor of -- i'm looking for the -- international studies. >> i am a professor with linkages and cultures at berkeley. >> you are working on matters at large. >> i am -- interested in confucianism, delhi is him and buddhism. i am in areas study department.
we don't actually have a department of religion. one of the things about are files center is that we are made up of people in different departments. we don't have anyone specifically in religious studies per se. even though i was in the religion department before coming to berkeley, my area is east asian languages and cultures. >> on a personal note, i understand you are at davidson and got to watch a little basketball star playing at college? >> yes. that is right. my connection is with the steph curry [ laughter ] >> the real bonus. >> on this program, we are going to take a break. we will come back and you will talk about this center -- what it does. and we will move on to your interest and how we got here. a very special mosaic. we hope you will stay with us for the
berkeley professors here. the berkeley center for the study of religion. the surprise berkeley study of religion. what more do you want to tell us about this? >> the surprise. and the viewers might be surprised at the idea of studying the religion. the surprise is not unwarranted. it has been a long time since berkeley has had the religion institution for study. it is a story of some interest. it might be a general interest for some people in the audience. thinking about how public universities think about religion.
the university is -- on the one hand, one of the great oldest institutions in the world. it has been around 800 years. i have thought about religion for many of those centuries. in the last 100 years. religion has played a more complicated role in public universities. at cal, at some point, there was a decision not to have religion included as a major topic of study. there was a major -- center for theological study just up the hill. and for major universities, religion was a topic best left to others. market, jump in whenever. i think in the past 20 years or so, as religion has become a really important public subject for conversations, both in political terms and social terms, it has become increasingly clear that for a
public university, this is something that we would be doing a disservice to the students and public at large if we didn't dedicate some significant resources to the study. so we are delighted to be able to start this now. it is late in the game but there are advantages to starting this project now, at a moment when religion is so forward in are phones every day public life and everyday politics. i think it gives a certain kind of power to the study that 50 years ago -- might have felt like studying something which is about to go away. now we know it is not. >> press materia schism -- presbyterian may be. >> where were you involved in this? >> i am deeply interested in the source of people's values
and ethical decisions. whether they come from a religious or nonreligious kind of background. i think what jonathan is talking about with the proper role is trying to imagine what the role on the study of religion is. a public university is a really important question. at a private press materia and affiliated college, originally, the religion department was the bible department. and even into the 60s and 70s, if you were in that department, you had to be a confessing christian. the religious studies, as it is done in much of the united states, comes out of a particular background. it is very doctrinally focused. and very confessional, in the way it approaches religion. the questions are, you teach the old testament and the new testament at the christian college. and there would be added in the
60s, somebody that teaches world religions. what we have here at berkeley is a chance to reimagine what one might want to do if you are teaching religion, not from that kind of background. so it's not that we don't feel the scriptural traditions and the books of various religions are important. they are definitely important. we have this kind of matrix of people in the social sciences who are experts on different cultures. they do history of these cultures or approach things from sociological perspectives. so we have this real chance to say, let's imagine how we might study religion in this kind of cross disciplinary way that doesn't grow out of the study of scriptural tradition.
i think that is one of the ways in which what we are doing has the potential to do something slightly different. >> you pose the question. how do you go about it. that is new and different? >> i think what you do -- if you think about religion as a complicated -- whether or not you are a believer, religion has provided a kind of archive of the imagination, a practices, social organizations and political life that have been around for thousands of years. to think about it and understand what it is as a phenomenon -- so whether it was years ago or today, we think that you need to approach it with all of the different resources you might have. you might think about the scriptures of different religions and think about them in the ways people use them and inhabit the kind of doctrines they produce. or you might think about the kinds of practices.
liturgies or the practice where some people have religions that are socially tuned and certain kind of ways. people may gather in large groups or small groups. so there is social interest. and then religions have different politics associated with them. even with christianity, which is a subject i know most about. there have been subjects that have been very anti- political. no interest in being part of the state. some have been well integrated into the state. we need to think about the phenomenon in political terms as well. we bring to the table, specialists in the humanities that know how to read these religious texts. sociologists to see how communities imagine borders and interact with one another. people that work on religious politics and the histories of religious politics to think about how religion, over time,
has interacted with different political formations. all of that is important now for us in this age we live in. and also, contentious. >> how do you do this quickly are sitting here and you have this idea. what do you do? you call them and say, let's get in a room and start talking ? where do you start? >> we started by getting dean support for this. dean carlos and carla hesse were supporters of the center. we got an umbrella that we could work with. we have been working really hard to get faculty buy-in. so we have that kind of diverse group of expertise and interest. >> give me an example. when you bring people together, you get them around the table and have a cup of tea and you
say what? >> for example, we recently got a $1 million grant for the study of what we call public theology. we get a group of faculty around the table. the faculty include faculty from the german, english and east asian languages department in the humanities. and then the sociology, sociology history, anthropology and social sciences. we got them together and said, let's imagine that we want to put together a big robust set of public programs that will support research for grad students and faculty. for a series of lectures and conferences and workshops that the public might be invited to attend. and we designed this together. we had written the grant together. we support different interest for different people and different constituencies. >> so somebody comes to speak. so you have the speaker series this year. what do they talk about?
>> we have a couple of different ones. we have a lecture on religion and religious tolerance. it has been interesting. i think we have had four of them. >> five. >> we just had the fifth. that is specifically on the topic of tolerance. we have the religion of the arts, which we have had people from practicing artists. people from the asian art museums of san francisco. people that do history of art or architecture. we have had collaboration with other institutions on campus. we have the public theology lecture series. >> this would include things like -- lectures this year on trying to understand how people visualize mecca. so how people have thought about mecca as that subject. we had -- thinking about how
different ways in which missionaries move between china, europe and argue about chinese religions, christianity and the interface of those things. we have had talks about jewish studies and faculties to talk about why we should study christian theology. people writing books on the study of the bible. new testament scholars talk about what it means to think about the new testament. both as the historical document and one where a scholar has placed both of those rules in his life. it is quite a diverse group of talks that have a bunch of interest. it is the advantage of the center. it is what the goal is, to produce a conversation that cuts across traditions. deeply historical and speaking to the present political
we are talking with mark jensen and jonathan chee. they are professors at the university of california and they are studying, low and behold, both areas in religion in the public university. that is news. the berkeley center for the study of religion. you can google that. the programs are over for this academic year but they are coming back next year and will offer things that we can go to in various ways. gentlemen, now we know about your academic background. you are in confucian studies.
where did you grow up. mark, let's start with you? >> i grew up in chicago. my father was a professor at the university of chicago that taught psychology and sociology. and i started learning about religion through -- kind of marxist sociological approaches to religion. and kind of critiques of religion. so history of religion and things like that. what was interesting about that was my father, despite the fact that he had this marxist plantation, was not really an anti- religious person. he grew up in rome. he was educated in classical -- latin and greek. i was brought up with this idea that religion is neither inherently good or inherently bad. that it was vital to
understanding how the society works. when i became interested in east asia and china in particular, i started looking for -- what were the sources of the values? why is it they believe this and this about the spirit world, which is different from what people believed in greece and rome. i got very interested in what we call, religion as kind of this bedrock fundamental set of beliefs about the cosmos and about where values come from. i found, when i was riding my dissertation in graduate school, that i kept going more and more toward what was religion in east asia. when i interviewed for jobs -- i interviewed for jobs in history, but it was a religion department.
and so, i find myself doing religion in part -- out of this orientation from my father that is not from a religious perspective. but from a perspective that, if you really want a certain culture and society, you have to understand what these fundamental iraq questions are. that is where my -- fundamental bedrock questions are. that is where my interest is. >> the west and the east is a good place to live. you live in san francisco? >> yes. >> family? >> it is interesting. we are bringing up kids in this interesting multicultural -- i have kind of a multiethnic family. and so it is a fascinating place. my daughter goes to sacred heart.
my younger daughter is going to go to a chinese dance centered school and learn mandarin. so in a way, for a household where you are bringing up kids to be interested in all the religions of the world, it is the perfect place to live. >> great for the san francisco bay area. jonathan, what about you? >> speaking of fathers -- i come from a family of catholics. three different kinds of catholics. three different kinds of catholics. the melancholy irish catholic. the jolly puerto rican catholics. and more intellectual european catholics. none of which was part of my growing up. because my father who went to a catholic school all the way through college, left the church and close the door with a bang behind him.
so it has been interesting. backing into the religion in my own life. the beginning of my life, i was going to be a scientist. i would not describe what i do as work on calvinism as so much work on the ways that the algae and imagining the world in theological terms, relates to the ways of imagining the world and secular terms, scientific terms. so i started off in the sciences and college. and slowly grew. growing or moved into the sciences -- into an entirely different imaginative fear. the fear of the religious imagination. along the way, there has been this accompanying sense of -- personal discoveries. moments where you look at your own family history. discovering -- i had an uncle who is a missionary in china.
a catholic missionary in china. he went to china in 1949 to study chinese dialect. so the way you could do that -- then he got kicked out and went to japan after that. the way you could do that in 1947-1949, was to be a priest. he was somebody that -- was both religious and secular at the same time. he would go on japanese game shows and do stump the chomp, with his knowledge of japanese -- is so extraordinary that he could do a stump the chomp game show with native japanese speakers. so there was a way in which the family story creeps into intellectual life all the time. but also unexpected ways. and theirs -- i guess it is interesting and some sense that i don't study catholics actually. that my focus has mainly been
with protestants. i don't know if that is because i'm nervous about studying catholics or if it is because i think the protestants are so unusual that i need to understand them. >> how did you get from brown university to cal? >> i did my phd here at cal. and because i have this unusual background. >> the ph -- phd topic was what? >> transformations of the bible and enlightenment. >> and you live in el cerrito? >> i live in el cerrito. the heartbeat of the east bay. and el cerrito is actually an interesting community for a lot of the same reasons that san francisco is interesting. the richard berkeley and richmond, captures a variety. >> particularly, a large japanese population. into what was a working class -- and a lot of african-
americans worked in the shipyard. >> right. >> you are enjoying that. what do you do for recreation? >> i am a beekeeper. and a golfer. those are my two recreations. >> market, when you are not with your family, and you have time, what do you like to do? >> we have five kids. all of whom are living at home now. i think i remember having free time about six years ago. [ laughter ] seven we will have a little more time when we come back. thank you for staying with us.
choi. after the election, some silicon valley tech execs decided they needed welcome to bay sunday. i am your host. i am in for kenny choi. after the election, some silicon valley tech execs decided they needed to get outside the bay area double. they piled onto a bus and took an old-fashioned cross-country road trip. ceo mark zuckerberg was on the bus and so is my guest, josh reeves. he is here to download his experience. welcome to bay sunday. >> wonderful to be here. i can quickly mention. separate trips. i think mark did a longer journey across the country. we were in an rv for about two weeks on the trip. >> you slept in the rv