Spotlight: Willson Center Religion Fellow J. Derrick Lemons

J. Derrick Lemons, associate professor of religion, director of the Center for Theologically Engaged Anthropology, and Willson Center Religion Fellow, is the principal investigator of a five-year, $234,671 John Templeton Foundation grant researching religious change on a global scale.

In an article linked with the project entitled “Anthropologies of Religious Change,” Lemons and co-author Naomi Richman claim that religious people are often motivated to change in order to repair “a sense of wholeness – within themselves, their communities, with God(s) or the cosmos at large. This is achieved by attempting to restore, revisit and recreate a part of their history, or by imagining and effectuating a morally vindicated or spiritually complete future.”

Of the project as a whole, Lemons said, “From Christians protesting China’s actions in Hong Kong to Buddhist Monks using rap music to reach teenagers, I have been honored to help scholars around the world look at their research through the lens of repair. I am amazed at the human ability to change while attempting to stay the same.”

Lemons’s research project has also been supported by the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the department of religion, and the Willson Center.