VonWachenfeldt Publishes Book on Religion

Chair of the Religion and Philosophy Department Dr. Jason VonWachenfeldt published his first book this past week.

Chair of the Religion and Philosophy Department Dr. Jason VonWachenfeldt published his first book this past week. The book, entitled Religious Epistemology through Schillebeeckx and Tibetan Buddhism: Reimagining Authority Amidst Modern Uncertainty, is a study analyzing how Catholic theologian Edward Schillebeeckx’s readings on Thomist philosophy and Tibetan Buddhism might aid in rethinking concepts of religious knowledge.

VonWachenfeldt sees this accomplishment as an extension of his passion for philosophical and religious studies that he acquired in college. “I went to undergrad with...an intention of maybe going to ministry or maybe doing something like that,” he said, “but then when I got there, I kind of realized that I just love...philosophy and religion.”

This affinity led VonWachenfeldt to write extensively on philosophical subjects with the aim of becoming a better instructor in the classroom. “I’ve always seen writing books as a kind of process to enable me to [become] a better teacher: teaching was always my goal,” he mentioned.

VonWachenfeldt decided to write Religious Epistemology through Schillebeeckx and Tibetan Buddhism: Reimagining Authority Amidst Modern Uncertainty because he saw potential in comparing different religious texts and interpretations. “There was something that really appealed to me...about Tibetan Buddhist philosophy that I thought resonated with a lot of the Western philosophy that I had done and also pushed it and challenged it in interesting ways,” he said.

While writing the book, VonWachenfeldt found himself asking several questions: “How do we believe things, how do we pursue things, how do we hold standards when we just don’t know?” Over time, these self-reflections led VonWachenfeldt to learn a valuable lesson: “One of the things I learned very much was of the deep meaningfulness, the deep values that somebody can have from the idea of simply just admitting you don’t know. That not knowing is not actually a shortcoming.”

Finding the time to write the book wasn’t all that easy for VonWachenfeldt, however. For a time, he would “go to bed, and then wake up at 2:00 or 3:00 [AM] and work just to get some uninterrupted focus time” as he juggled being a parent, teacher, coach, and Head of House. But when he finally got some downtime, he would “literally just type and write every day for 10 hours a day” until he accomplished his goal.

Looking towards the future, VonWachenfeldt is optimistic. “I have a couple of ideas for potential books in the future. But, you know, one step at a time...I hope this isn’t my last book. I don’t know when my next one will come. I just hope it’s not my last.”

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