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, Religion and African American Studies, 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

Associate 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

Sigal Samuel

Global Religion Editor, The Atlantic


Stephen Asma, The Emotional Mind: The Affective Roots of Culture and Cognition (with Rami Gabriel), Harvard University Press

Stephen Asma, Friendship in the Age of Social Distancing (in preparation)

Ilia Delio, The Hours of the Universe: Reflections on God, Science, and the Human Journey, Orbis Books

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

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

Kevin Healey, Ethics and Religion in the Age of Social Media: Digital Proverbs for Responsible Citizens (with Robert H. Woods), Routledge
*Winner of the 2020 Book of the Year Award from the Religious Communication Association (RCA)

Stuart Ray Sarbacker, Tracing the Path of Yoga: The History and Philosophy of Indian Mind-Body Discipline, Suny Press (forthcoming)

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

R. John Williams, Futurology, Oxford University Press (forthcoming)

R. John Williams, World Presence, University of Chicago Press (forthcoming)


Book Chapters:

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

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

Ilia Delio, “Transhumanism: An Overview,” in Cambridge Companion to Religion and AI, Cambridge University Press (forthcoming)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Noreen Herzfeld, “Surrogate, Partner, or Tool: How Autonomous Should be Technology Be?” in The Robot Will See You Now: Theological, social and ethical implications of AI and robotics, SPCK (forthcoming)

Beverley McGuire, “Instant Karma and Internet Karma: Karmic Memes and Morality on Social Media,” in Believing in Bits, Oxford University Press (forthcoming)

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


Academic Articles:

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

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

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, “From Cage to Coltrane: (Un)popular Music as Contemplative Practice,” in the Journal of Contemplative Inquiry, special five-year anniversary print edition

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

Kevin Healey, “Dreaming the Virtual: How Lucid Dream Practice Can Inform VR Development,” in the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research

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

Noreen Herzfeld, “AI: A New Neighbor or a Divisive Force?” in Studies in Science and Theology

Beverley McGuire, “A Student-Centered Framework for Digital Privacy, Digital Ethics, and Digital Literacy,” in The AAEEBL ePortfolio Review 

Beverley McGuire, “Gaming and Grieving: Digital Games as Means of Confronting and Coping with Death,” in Journal of Religion, Media, and Digital Culture (forthcoming)

Beverley McGuire, “Buddhist-Inspired Self-Tracking Apps: Tracking Emotions and Values in a Digital Era,” in Journal of Japanese Associations for Digital Humanities (forthcoming)

Stuart Ray Sarbacker, “Nirmāṇa-citta in the Pātañjalayogaśāstra: Yogic Constructed Minds and the Philosophy and Ethics of Artificial Intelligence,” in the Journal of Dharma Studies (forthcoming)

Stuart Ray Sarbacker, “Buddhist Meditation and the Ethics of Human Augmentation,” in the Journal of the Japanese Association for Digital Humanities (forthcoming)

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 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)

Stuart Ray Sarbacker, “Tune in, Turn on, Turn up: Second-wave Psychedelic Ethics,” in The San Francisco Chronicle

Devin Singh, “COVID-19 is Exposing Market Fundamentalism’s Flaws,” in The Washington Post

Media Outputs and Interviews:

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

Gregory P. Grieve and Beverly McGuire, “How Much Actual Buddhism Is There In Your Mindfulness App?” (host, Tim Peterson)

Gregory P. Grieve, “Virtual Tibet” (with Dr. Helland, Dr. Schaeffer and Dr. Singh)
*Details on the project can be found in Buddhism, the Internet, and Digital Media: the Pixel and the Lotus

Gregory P. Grieve (featured), “The Mindfulness Business is Thriving on Our Anxiety,” (by Sarah Todd)

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

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 Catechism,” on Christianity and Communications Studies Network (host, Robert Woods)

Kevin Healey, Instagram Mobius Machine, Arts-based project supported through the UNH Innovation Lab

Devin Singh, “Economy,” in The Immanent Frame: Universe of Terms

Lectures and Forums:

Stephen Asma, “As-if We Were Friends: Pretend Intimacy and Artificial Intelligence,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2019)

Stephen Asma, “Axial Age Friendship for the Digital Age?” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2018)

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 (September, 2020)

Amy Bix, “Time/Machine and Sacred Pauses for Meaning: Religion, Work and the Quest for Control Amidst Chaotic Technological Pressures,” at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion (November, 2019)

Amy Bix, Technology and Time in Tension: Interpreting Social, Political, Personal, and Religious Implications of Modern Connectivity, Through Kranzberg’s Laws,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2019)

Amy Bix, “Have the Time of Your Life: ‘Technology Sabbath’ and the Quest for Control,”at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2018)

Sheila Briggs, “What Will Make Us Human in 2050?” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2019)

Sheila Briggs, “Imagined Bodies, Real Lives: Technology and Intimacy,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2018)

Ilia Delio, “Considering Options: Is Artificial Intelligence ‘Artificial?’” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2019)

Ilia Delio, “Is AI Human? Exploring the Relationship Between Nature and Techne,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2018)

Gregory Price Grieve, “Cosmic Pollution: The Manchester Cathedral, Video Games, and Religion,” Forum on Cosmic Pollution: The Manchester Cathedral, Video Games, and Religion at the University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, the Berkley Forum (August, 2019)

Gregory Price Grieve, “Darkrim: Vanilla and Transgressive Ways of Being Evil Online,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2019)

Gregory Price Grieve, “The Confession: Video Games, Violence, and the Problem of Evil,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2018)

Margarita Guillory, “Playing with Voodoo Dolls: Race, Africana Religion, and representation in Digital Games,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2019)

Margarita Guillory, “Virtual ROAD to Intimacy: Using an Africana Religious Mobile App to Foster Relationships,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2018)

Kevin Healey, “Digital Proverbs for Responsible Citizens: Lockdown Edition,” at the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (May, 2020)

Kevin Healey, “Contemplative Reading: Pedagogy and Practice” at the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (November 2019)

Kevin Healey, “Digital Proverbs for Responsible Citizens,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2019)

Kevin Healey, “Contemplative Photo-mapping and Media Ethics Pedagogy,” at the New England Humanities Consortium (August, 2019)

Kevin Healey, “Contextual Integrity in Data and Beyond,” at UNH Manchester Sidore Lecture Series (October, 2018)

Kevin Healey, “Arts-Based Research and Contemplative Media Pedagogy,” at the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (October, 2018)

Kevin Healey, “Being Digital Citizens: Mindful Media from Tweets to Big Data,” at the the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education (October, 2018)

Kevin Healey, “Dream Yoga and the Ethics of Virtual Reality,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2018)

Natasha Heller, “Technology, Presence, and the Hong Kong Protests,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2019)

Natasha Heller, “Self-Watchfulness and Other-Watchfulness,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2018)

Noreen Herzfeld, “Surrogate, Partner, or Tool? Are Lethal Autonomous Weapons Just?” at the Religious Philosophy Between Humanism and Posthumanism Conference (November 2020)

Noreen Herzfeld, “Surrogate, Partner, or Tool? How Autonomous Should Technology Be?” at the Center got Theology and Natural Science (September, 2020)

Noreen Herzfeld, “AI: A New Neighbor or a Divisive Force?” at the Fuller Theological Seminary (September, 2020)

Noreen Herzfeld, “AI: A New Neighbor or a Divisive Force?” at Chautauqua Institute (July, 2020)

Noreen Herzfeld, “Ghosts or Zombies: On Separating Body and Mind,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2019)

Noreen Herzfeld, “Cybernetic Enhancement and the Problem of the Self,” at St. Mary’s University Scotland (April, 2019)

Noreen Herzfeld, “Can a Computer Love Me? Can I Love It?” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2019)

Liz Kineke, “Contemplative Practices for Digital Natives,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2019)

Liz Kineke, “Looking for God in the Machine: Can virtual reality really change how we understand ourselves and others in the real world?” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2018)

Beverley McGuire, “Promoting Empathy through Digital Games and Social Media,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2019)

Beverley McGuire, “What Counts as Morally Salient?” Moral Attention in Chinese Religion,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2018)

Sigal Samuel, “What does Big Tech owe us? The Ethics of Algorithmic Accountability,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2019)

Sigal Samuel, “Five Different Types of Tech/Religion Coverage,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2018)

Stuart Ray Sarbacker, “Tracing the Path of Yoga: Four Facets of Mind-Body Discipline,” at the Oxford University Center for Hindu Studies, (Fall, 2020)

Stuart Ray Sarbacker, “Staying Grounded During the 2020 Election Season: A Pedagogy of Kindness” at the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion Teaching Forum, Oregon State University (Fall, 2020)

Stuart Ray Sarbacker, “Buddhist Meditation and the Ethics of Human Augmentation,” Buddhism & Technology: Historical Background and Contemporary Challenges, (Fall, 2019)

Stuart Ray Sarbacker, “Turn on, Tune in, Step Up: Contemplative Ethics and ‘Awakened Futures,’” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2018)

Stuart Ray Sarbacker “Śramaṇa Ethics and Human Augmentation,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2019)

Devin Singh, “Currency and the Form of Life: Implications for the Digital Age,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2019)

R. John Williams, “Technology, Memory, and Our Sense of Time,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2019)

R. John Williams, “The Spiritual Technologies of the Here and Now,” at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (October, 2018)

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