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Department of

Theology and Religious Studies

Rico G. Monge

Assistant Professor, Theology and Religious Studies

Rico G. Monge’s teaching and research focuses on comparative theology, continental philosophy of religion, and the history of Christian theology (including Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox theology). As a comparative theologian, Monge specializes in Christian and Islamic mystical and ascetic traditions. Holding degrees in literature, theology, and religious studies, he also explores religious and philosophical themes in literature and film. He is the founding co-chair of the Catholic Studies Group of the American Academy of Religion’s Western Region. Monge is also an ordained deacon in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Education

Ph.D., in Religious Studies, University of California-Santa Barbara, 2013
M.Div., St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, 2008
B.A., in English, Pomona College 1998

Scholarly and Creative Work

Professor Monge’s doctoral research focuses on world-rejecting and world-affirming trajectories in religious and philosophical asceticism. Drawing from Friedrich Nietzsche’s critiques of the “ascetic ideal,” Monge explores how various orientations of ascetic and mystical practice in Christianity and Islam can cultivate dispositions of love or hatred for the world. He is currently working on a monograph exploring how these religious and philosophical attitudes towards the world are depicted in the films of Terrence Malick. He is also preparing an edited volume that will compare how the “saint” is depicted in different religious traditions and in various modes of religious discourse. Monge is the author of peer-reviewed articles on the philosophical underpinnings of Alexander Schmemann’s sacramental theology, Basil of Caesarea’s ecclesiology, and the ascetic dimensions of Islam (forthcoming). He is also in the early stages of planning a book that will offer an Eastern Orthodox approach to the emerging field of comparative theology.

Teaching Interests

Professor Monge teaches courses in Christian theology, comparative/interreligious theology, and the philosophy of religion. A major goal of his teaching is to break down traditional barriers, thus allowing students to learn more about their own perspective by engaging the perspectives of others with an open mind and an open heart. In his upper-division course in comparative theology, for example, Monge stresses that adherents of different religious traditions can and should learn something about God from each other. His teaching extends this same openness to irreligious perspectives, and therefore all of his courses also emphasize how Christians, agnostics, and atheists can learn from exploring what each other holds dear.