Public Theologies of Technology and Presence

The Public Theologies of Technology and Presence program gathers and funds a cohort of leading scholars of religion, theologians, and journalists for their work addressing a pressing concern of contemporary life: The ways in which technologies reshape human relationships and alter how people are or are not “present” with each other. The three-year program launched in 2018 and is supported by the Henry Luce Foundation.

Over recent decades and continuing at warp speed, new technologies are radically reshaping human relationships. These shifts have profound implications both for individuals and for the webs of relationships in which they participate. Scholars of religion and theologians, from across the traditions, are ideally situated to address this issue of great public concern. Public Theologies of Technology and Presence supports this work through an ambitious agenda of research projects, conferences, popular and scholarly publishing, active engagements with Silicon Valley technologists, the development of models for integrating the subject into university and theological institution curricula, the publication of a digital forum, white papers, and public talks.

The grantees’ research and publication projects draw on the study and practice of many different religions—Buddhism, Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Africana religions, among others—to address cutting-edge technologies such as cryptocurrency, artificial intelligence, human augmentation, surveillance technologies, video games, and social media. The projects offer new and exciting insights into technologies’ impacts on human relationships, including on friendships, introspective abilities, sexual relationships, moral attentions, and capacities for relational authenticity.

Address inquiries to Program Director Dr. Steven Barrie-Anthony:, (510) 500-9722.

Stephen T. Asma

Professor of Philosophy, Columbia College Chicago

Amy Sue Bix

Professor, Department of History, Iowa State University

Sheila Briggs

Associate Professor, Departments of Religion and Gender Studies, University of Southern California

Ilia Delio, OSF

Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology, Villanova University

Gregory Price Grieve

Professor and Head, Religious Studies Department, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Margarita Simon Guillory

Associate Professor, Department of Religion, Boston University

Kevin Healey

Associate Professor, Department of Communication, University of New Hampshire

Natasha Heller

Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

Noreen Herzfeld

Nicholas and Bernice Reuter Professor of Science and Religion, St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict

Beverley McGuire

Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy and Religion, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Stuart Ray Sarbacker

Associate Professor, School of History, Philosophy, and Religion, Oregon State University

Devin Singh

Assistant Professor, Department of Religion, Dartmouth College

R. John Williams

Associate Professor, Departments of English and Film and Media Studies, Yale University

Liz Kineke

Producer, CBS Religion & Culture Series

Justin Peters

Correspondent for Slate, freelance journalist, and author

Sigal Samuel

Global Religion Editor, The Atlantic


Ilia Delio, Re-Enchanting the Earth: Why AI Needs Religion, Orbis Books

Kevin Healey, Ethics and Religion in the Age of Social Media: Digital Proverbs for Responsible Citizens (with Robert H. Woods)


Book Chapters:

Stephen Asma, “Music and Embodied Cognition,” in Evolutionary Perspectives on Imaginative Culture

Gregory Price Grieve,An Ethnographic Method for the Digital Humanistic Study of Buddhism,” in Mediatized Religion in Asia: Studies on Digital Media and Religion


Academic Articles:

Amy Bix, “‘Remember the Sabbath:’ A History of Technological Decisions and Innovation in Orthodox Jewish Communities,” in History and Technology

Ilia Delio, “Religion and Posthuman Life: A Note on Teilhard de Chardin’s Vision” in Toronto Journal of Theology

Ilia Delio, “Is Artificial Intelligence ‘Artificial?’” in Researcher: European Journal of Humanities and Social Science 

Ilia Delio, The Posthuman as Complex Dynamical Personhood: A Reply to Hyun-Shik Jun” in Social Epistemology

Ilia Delio, “Suffering and Sacrifice in an Unfinished Universe: The Energy of Love” in Religions XX

Gregory Price Grieve,“Paradise Lost: Value Formations as an Analytical Concept for the Study of Gamevironments,” in Gamevironments

Gregory Price Grieve, “Video Game Development in Asia: Voices from the Field,” in Gamevironments

Kevin Healey, “Contemplative Photo-collage in Media Studies Pedagogy,” in The International Journal of Creative Media Research

Noreen Herzfeld, Do We Image God On-line? The Opportunities and Challenges for Authentic Relationships in Cyberspace” in Theology and Sexuality

R. John Williams, “The Yin and Yang of G. Spencer Brown’s Laws of Form” in ALPHABETUM III


Popular Articles:

Stephen Asma, “This Friendship has been Digitized,” in The New York Times 

Stephen Asma, “Does the Pandemic have a Purpose?” in The New York Times

Stephen Asma, “Ancient animistic beliefs live on in our intimacy with technology,” in Aeon

Gregory Price Grieve and Beverly Foulks McGuire, “Meditation Apps Might Calm You—But Miss the Point of Buddhist Mindfulness” in The Conversation

Liz Kineke, Learning to Contemplate the News” in Tricycle (featuring Kevin Healey)

Liz Kineke, Buddhists with Physical Disabilities Access Digital Dharma” in Tricycle

Liz Kineke, Together Alone: Online Sanghas in the Age of Social Distancing” in Tricycle

Sigal Samuel, Can You Beat Anxiety by Playing a Game on Your Phone?” in Vox

Sigal Samuel, “Robot Priests Can Bless You, Advise You, and Perform Your Funeral” in Vox (featuring Ilia Delio)

Sigal Samuel, “How Your Brain Invents Morality” in Vox

Sigal Samuel, “China is Installing a Secret Surveillance App on Tourists’ Phones” in Vox

Sigal Samuel, “Are We Morally Obligated to Meditate?” in Vox

Sigal Samuel, “The Witches of Baltimore” in The Atlantic (featuring Margarita Guillory)


Media Outputs:

Stephen Asma,  “Loyalty, Loving and Distance,” on ABC Australia’s Counterpoint (host, Amanda Vastone)

Kevin Healey, “A Virtous Walk in the College Woods: An Exercise in Contemplative Photojournalism for Anti-Oppression Pedagogy

Kevin Healey, “Digital Proverbs in Response to Silicon Valley’s Moral Cathecism” on Christianity and Communications Studies Network (host, Robert Woods)


Lectures and Forums:

Amy Bix, “The Crock-Pot, Sabbath Elevator, KosherSwitch, and Shabbos App: The History of Innovation and Controversy in Orthodox Judaism,” at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of History

Gregory Price Grieve, “Cosmic Pollution: The Manchester Cathedral, Video Games, and Religion,” Forum on Cosmic Pollution: The Manchester Cathedral, Video Games, and Religion at University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, the Berkley Forum

Noreen Herzfeld, “AI: A New Neighbor or a Divisive Force?” at the Fuller Theological Seminary

Noreen Herzfeld, “Cybernetic Enhancement and the Problem of the Self,” at St. Mary’s University Scotland


Forthcoming Outputs:

Stephen Asma, “Mythopoetic Cognition: a New Phylogeny and Ontogeny,” in Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture

Ilia Delio, “Whither Thou Go O Universe? Why Evolution and Religion Belong Together,” in Science, Deep Past and Religion, Routledge

Ilia Delio, “Religion and the Posthuman Life: Teilhard’s Noosphere,” in Becoming Digital Natives, Lexington Books

Gregory Price Grieve, “Good, Evil Religion and Video Games,” in Oxford Handbook of Digital Religion, Oxford University Press

Gregory Price Grieve, “Digital Religion,” in The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology, WileyOne Scholar

Gregory Price Grieve, “Buddhism in the Age of Digital Reproduction,” in Religion in the Age of Digitization–Spirituality and Human Interaction

Margarita Guillory, Africana Religion in the Digital Age, Routledge Studies in Religion and Digital Culture Series

Margarita Guillory, ROAD: Religions of the African Diaspora Mobile App

Kevin Healey, “The Ethics of Augmentation: A Case Study in Contemplative MR” in Augmented and Mixed Reality for Communities, CRC Press

Kevin Healey, Instagram Mobius Machine

Natasha Heller and Beverly Foulks McGuire, “Little Yueyue Surveillance Video, and Mediated Moral Attention,” in Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

Beverly Foulks McGuire, “Gaming and Grieving: Digital Games as Means of Confronting and Coping with Death,” in Journal of Religion, Media, and Digital Culture

Devin Singh, “Economics and Public Theology,” in Bloomsbury Handbook for Public Theology

Devin Singh, Decentered Sovereignties and Spectral Transactions: Cryptocurrency, Public Theology, and the Ethics of Presence, Brill

Devin Sing, “Decentered Sovereignties and Spectral Transactions: Cryptocurrency, Public Theology, and the Ethics of Presence” in Immanent Frame

R. John Williams, Futurology, Oxford University Press

Audrey Cooper

Editor-in-Chief, San Francisco Chronicle

Kim-Mai Cutler

Partner, Initialized Capital

Kate Dailey

Managing Editor, Vox

Josh Estelle

Senior Engineer Manager, Google

Alex Feerst

General Counsel, Neuralink

Sha Hwang

COO and Co-Founder, Nava

Kathryn Lofton

Professor, Departments of Religious Studies, American Studies, and History, Yale University

Robert Orsi

Grace Craddock Nagle Chair of Catholic Studies, Northwestern University

Anthony Pinn

Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities, Department of Religion, Rice University

Andy Puddicombe

Co-Founder, Headspace

Caitlin Roper

Special Projects Editor, New York Times Magazine

Jonathan Sheehan

Professor, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley

Bob Sipchen

Journalist, author, and Associate Professor NTT of Writing and Rhetoric, Occidental College

Diane Winston

Knight Chair in Media and Religion, University of Southern California

Dale Wright

David B. and Mary H. Gamble Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies and Professor of Asian Studies, Occidental College

Steven Barrie-Anthony

Program Director, Public Theologies of Technology and Presence

Kelli Moore

Program Associate, Public Theologies of Technology and Presence