Comparative Religion and Humanities

Tom Parker

I came to the academic study of religion through the field of Anthropology and a fascination for the religious worldviews of the traditional cultures I studied, especially those of Africa. An earlier influence was my passion for poetry and the music I grew up with in the 1960's-and early 70's, especially the work of Bob Dylan. Poetry and music were not merely pleasurable pursuits, they moved me very deeply. The questions I brought to them, and the consolations I derived from them, I now see, were of a religious nature. Put most simply, poetry and music helped me struggle with questions of identity, morality, values, and the way to live my life. Consequently the study of religion and literature has become central to my personal and intellectual life. Over the course of my teaching career, my interests in religion and the basic questions of our lives have come to inform my approach to the study and teaching of the Humanities courses that I have taught for 15 years at Chico State.

The Religious Studies courses I teach are primarily the introductions to Western and Asian religions. As a teacher of religions I strive to convey the beauty, spirituality and profound meaning of each tradition for its believers. Given the importance of religion historically, and in the events and conflicts shaping the world we live in, I believe the study of religion is more urgent than ever, and it is especially important to come to this subject with the desire to understand and appreciate different religious worldviews, traditions, and beliefs.

Portrait of Tom Parker