Dr. Veninga is an associate professor of religious and theological studies, teaching a range of courses in Christian theology and world religions. Each semester, she teaches a course on religion and community for the Honors Living and Learning Community.
Dr. Veninga is the advisor for St. Edward’s chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa, the National Honors Society for Religious Studies and Theology. Her research and teaching interests include Søren Kierkegaard and existentialism, Scandinavian religion and politics, Islam and the West, trauma and collective memory, and feminist and queer theologies. The author of Secularism, Theology and Islam: The Danish Social Imaginary and the Cartoon Crisis of 2005-2006 (2014), she is currently researching the intersections of theology and trauma studies by focusing on several case studies, including the 2011 tragedy in Norway perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik and ongoing conflict in Palestine and Israel. Dr. Veninga also works with ecumenical and interfaith programs sponsored by St. Edward’s Campus Ministry.
Associate Professor of Religious and Theological Studies, 2017-present
Assistant Professor of Religious and Theological Studies, 2011-2017
Instructor of Religious and Theological Studies, 2010-2011
- Ph.D., Systematic and Philosophical Theology, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California, 2011
- M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2002
- B.A., Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, 2000
Achievement & Involvement
Honors and Awards
- Sabbatical Award for Research, 2017-2018
- Faith-Based Organizations as Sites of Public Deliberation Exchange, Charles F. Kettering Foundation, Dayton, Ohio, February 2017
- Developing Materials for Public Deliberation Exchange, Charles F. Kettering Foundation, Dayton, Ohio, February 2017
- Faculty Development Seminar in Palestine, Palestinian-American Research Center, May-June, 2016
- 2015 Summer Interfaith Understanding Seminar for Faculty Members, Council of Independent Colleges and Interfaith Youth Core, Boston, Massachusetts, 2015
- St. Edward’s Presidential Excellence Grant for Summer Research, 2013-2017
- St. Edward’s Blue and Gold Committee Award, 2013
- St. Edward’s Faculty Institute on Globalization and Society, 2011
- Guest Stipend Research Fellowship, Georg Brandes School of Scandinavian Languages and Literature, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, Summer 2008
- Summer Fellows Program for Research in Residence Grant Award, St. Olaf College, Howard V. and Edna H. Hong Kierkegaard Library, Summer 2006
Organizations, Boards and Memberships
- Kierkegaard, Religion and Culture Group Steering Committee, American Academy of Religion, 2012-present
Chair, Theta Alpha Kappa Section, Southwest Commission on Religious Studies/Southwest Region of the American Academy of Religion, 2016-present
- Moderator, Pi Chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa, The National Honors Society for Religious Studies and Theology, St. Edward’s University, 2012-present
Member-at-Large, Board of Directors, Southwest Commission on Religious Studies/Southwest Region of the American Academy of Religion, 2012-2016
- American Academy of Religion/Southwest Region
- Association for the Scientific Study of Religion/Southwest Religion
- Søren Kierkegaard Society
- Palestinian-American Research Center
My research interests include the social and political aspects of Søren Kierkegaard’s thought, and I have also explored themes of secularism, Christianity and Islam in Europe through an examination of the Danish cartoon crisis of 2005-2006 from a theological perspective. I am currently writing a manuscript tentatively entitled A Theology of Witness: Vision and Memory in a Suffering World, which examines four instances of collective trauma: the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the U.S. in 1945; the Nazi Holocaust, with particular attention to the figure of the suffering Muselmann; historical and contemporary erasure of Palestinian memory and identity; and political terrorism, with a focus on the July 22, 2011, tragedy in Norway.
- Secularism, Theology and Islam: The Danish Social Imaginary and the Cartoon Crisis of 2005-2006 (London: Bloomsbury Press, 2014). Paperback September, 2015.
Articles and Book Chapters
- “From Danish Cartoons to Norway’s Anders Breivik: Secularism and Perceptions of Muslims in Scandinavian Social Imaginaries.” Journal of Religion and Society (Volume 20, 2018, Supplement 17). Creighton University. Online article.
- “Loving the Ones We See: Kierkegaard’s Neighbor-Love and the Politics of Pluralism.” In Kierkegaard and Political Theology, edited by Roberto Sirvent and Silas Morgan (Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick/Wipf and Stock, forthcoming). Book Chapter.
- “Echoes of the Danish Cartoon Crisis Ten Years Later: Identity, Injury and Intelligibility from Copenhagen to Paris and Texas.” Islam and Muslim-Christian Relations. (Vol. 12, No. 1., January 26, 2016). Article.
- “Feminism and the Pro-Life/Pro-Choice Debate.” Feminism and Religion: How Faiths View Women and Their Rights. (Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2016). Book Chapter.
- On Kierkegaard’s Dialectic of the Imagination by David J. Gouwens (New York: Peter Lang, 1989). Vol. 18, Kierkegaard Secondary Literature, Kierkegaard Research: Sources, Reception and Resources (Copenhagen: Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre and Ashgate, 2016). Book Chapter.
- “The Figure of Aladdin in Kierkegaard.” Vol. 16, Kierkegaard’s Literary Figures and Motifs, Kierkegaard Research: Sources, Reception and Resources (Surrey, UK: Ashgate/Copenhagen: Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre, January 2015). Book Chapter.
- “Richard Wright: Kierkegaard’s Influence as Existentialist Outsider.” Kierkegaard’s Influence on Social-Political Thought in Vol. 14, Kierkegaard Research: Sources, Reception and Resources (Surrey, UK: Ashgate/Copenhagen: Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre, January 2011). Book Chapter.
- “The Danish Cartoon Controversy as Viewed by Kierkegaard and Appadurai: The Social Imagination and the Numerical.” International Kierkegaard Commentary: “The Moment” and Late Writings (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, November 2009). Book Chapter.
- “Imagining Beyond God’s Warriors.” Review of “God’s Warriors,” a CNN Three-Part Series with Christiane Amanpour. Dialog: A Journal of Theology (Volume 46 Issue 4, Winter 2007). Journal Article.
- “Fictitious Worlds and Real Unrealities: The Aesthetic Imagination in Søren Kierkegaard and Herbert Marcuse.” College Theology Society Annual Volume Number 52 (Orbis Books, 2007). Book Chapter.
- Review of Kierkegaard and the Paradox of Religious Diversity by George B. Connell (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016), 188 pp. Anglican Theological Review, (Vol. 99, No. 1, January 2017)
- Review of Kierkegaard: Exposition and Critique by Daphne Hampson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), xii + 324 pp. Modern Theology (Vol. 31, Issue 2, pgs. 355-357, April 2015).
Public and Academic Opinion Pieces
- “Free speech is no excuse for Muslim-baiting.” The Conversation (October 1, 2015).
- “Norway Terror a Wake-Up Call.” Co-authored with James F. Veninga. Wausau Daily Herald (Wausau, Wis., July 26, 2011).
- "Seeing the Muselmann: On the Limits and Possibilities of Witnessing to Collective Trauma.” Memory Studies Association Annual Meeting, Copenhagen, Denmark, December 2017
- “Kierkegaard’s Hope for the Present Age: Individuality, Love and Witness as Antidotes to Uncertain Times.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Kierkegaard, Religion and Culture Group, Boston, Massachusetts, November 2017
- From Danish Cartoons to Norway’s Anders Breivik: Pluralism, Secularism and Memory in Scandinavia,” Creighton University Kripke Center’s Annual Symposium on Religion and Secularism, Omaha, Nebraska, October 2017 (Invited Talk)
- “Topographies of (Im)possible Memory: Witness, Trauma and Norway’s July 22 Massacre.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Co-Sponsored Session of the Religion in Europe Group and Space, Place, and Religion Group, San Antonio, Texas, November 2016
- “Loving the Ones We See: Kierkegaard’s Neighbor-Love and the Politics of Pluralism.” Southwest Commission on Religious Studies, Irving, Texas, March 2016
- “Je Suis Charlie, Je Suis Ahmed, Je Suis Jyllands-Posten: Identities and Solidarities Ten Years After the Danish Cartoon Crisis.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Religion in Europe Group, Atlanta, Georgia, November 2015
- “Re-Membering Shared Wounds: The July 22 Massacre in Norway as Collective Trauma.” Southwest Commission on Religious Studies, Association for the Scientific Study of Religion, Irving, Texas, March 2015
- “Eternity Is Not in a Financial Predicament: Or, Why Kierkegaard Would Not Buy Shares in a Transnational Corporation.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Kierkegaard, Religion and Culture Group, Baltimore, Maryland, November 2013
- “Imagining Toward Wholeness: The Kierkegaardian Self and Contemporary Trauma Theory.” Nordic Network of Kierkegaard Research, Seminar on Kierkegaard’s Philosophical Psychology: The Sickness Unto Death, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, May 2013
- “Kierkegaard at 200: Theological Contributions to Contemporary Trauma Theory.” Southwest Commission on Religious Studies, Irving, Texas, March 2013
- “Loving the Ugly and Imagining the Impossible: Kierkegaard’s Paradoxical Esthetics.”
American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Kierkegaard, Religion and Culture Group, November 2011
- “Imagining Theology in a Secular Age: Social Imagination as Methodology.”
American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Religion and Social Sciences Section, November 2010
- “Imagination as an Instrument of Social Change: Søren Kierkegaard and Percy Bysshe Shelley in Dialogue.” Pacific Coast Theological Society Meeting, October 2009
- “Secularity in the Context of Established Religion: The Dynamics of Religious and Secular Imaginations in Contemporary Denmark.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Religion in Europe Consultation, November 2008
- “Imagining the Numerical: Majority and Minority in Søren Kierkegaard and Arjun Appadurai.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Kierkegaard, Religion and Culture Group, November 2008
- “Imagined Publics? Social Identities and the Danish Cartoon Controversy.” College Theology Society Annual Convention, Religion and Society Section, June 2007
Select Courses Taught:
- HONS 1340: Introduction to Religions of the World
- RELS 1101: Methods in Religious Studies
- RELS 1304: Introduction to Religions of the World
- RELS 1315: Basic Christian Questions
- RELS 2302: Abrahamic Traditions
- RELS 2342: Special Topics in Religious Studies (Christian Mysticism)
- RELS 3304: People of the Book (Islam)
- RELS 3345: Special Topics in Theology (Feminist Theology, Christian Existentialism)
- RELS 4341: Contemporary Theological Questions (Body, Gender, Images of God)
Outside the Classroom
- Faculty for the Honors LLC 2015-2016
- Ecumenical Minister for Campus Ministry
- Mentor students for SOURCE presentations
- Moderator for the Pi Chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa, The National Honors Society for Religious Studies and Theology at St. Edward’s University
- Supporter of PRIDE
Why I Teach
I love studying and thinking about religion and theology and want to share my passion with my students. I see myself as a journey-guide in the classroom, encouraging students consider the "big questions" of human existence. I agree with educator and author bell hooks when she says that the classroom can be a place where we "collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress," and a "location of possibility." Teaching can promote the imagining of new and exciting possibilities.