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In an attempt to understand the post-9/11 religious and cultural movement in the United States, Kelly Denton-Borhaug, associate professor and chair of the religion department, traces the lasting link between U.S. war culture and sacrifice in her first book, U.S. War-culture, Sacrifice and Salvation.
"I saw that sacrificial frameworks were being utilized very skillfully to build the case for and maintain war and also to silence protest against war," says Denton-Borhaug. "The language of 'war as a necessary sacrifice' is a kind of shield that mystifies clear and deep thinking about what war actually is, and the reality of the war-culture of the United States." For example, she mentions the way Christians use the phrase "the ultimate sacrifice" to describe both the death of Jesus Christ and soldiers killed fighting in war.
Over the years, Denton-Borhaug's research has focused on Christian and Jewish feminism and Christian ethics, war-culture, popular culture and political theology. U.S. War-culture, Sacrifice and Salvation incorporates many of her areas of expertise into one publication.
Her interest in ethical systems and Christianity allows for fascinating discussions in her courses by introducing her students to what Denton-Borhaug calls the "beauty and complexity of theological and ethical systems and forms of analysis." She urges her students to raise questions about religious doctrines and beliefs, something she finds many students are reluctant to do.
"In my classrooms, we throw open the windows and doors and we study and question everything related to our topic of study, no holds barred," says Denton-Borhaug. "I believe that students simultaneously find themselves challenged by their serious study of religion and experience a wonderful freedom to raise questions, concerns and issues vis-a-vis religion that they have not been permitted to bring into other dialogic communities."