Lived Religion in the Digital Age is a new initiative in the Department of Theological Studies at SLU directed by Dr. Rachel McBride Lindsey and Dr. Pauline Lee and funded through an Advancing Public Scholarship on Religion and Theology grant through the Theology Program of the Henry Luce Foundation.

Working with local and regional religious communities, museums, parks, schools, and other civic organizations, this research initiative seeks to develop multisensory inventories of lived religion throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area through historical, archival, ethnographic, and digital research methods.

We invite sustained conversation across theology and the multidisciplinary study of religion to develop research models that scrutinize the translation of these local inventories into digital products. The project convenes two events each year, supports research and teaching at the intersection of lived religion and digital cultures, and is working with the Walter J. Ong, S.J. Center for Digital Humanities to build a publicly accessible interactive database of religious life and practice.

In the 2018-2019 year, we are focusing on the theme of Mapping Religion in order to develop new methods of imagining the city across lived experience and digital life. Future years will focus on themes of Performing Religion (2019-2020) and Religion, Migration, and Diaspora (2020-2021).


We would love to hear from you. If you have questions about our project, would like to get involved, or would like to contact us for any reason, please email us at: livedreligion@slu.edu or click the link below to go to our contact page.

Contact Us


Lived Religion in the Digital Age Staff

Rachel Lindsey, Co-Director

Rachel McBride Lindsey is assistant professor of American religion and culture in the Department of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University. She received her B.A. from Missouri State University and her Ph.D. from Princeton University. Her research and teaching focus on religion in the United States with primary expertise in visual and material cultures of religion, race, and nation. Her first book, A Communion of Shadows: Religion and Photography in Nineteenth-Century America, is the first monograph to investigate the influence of commonplace photographs in American religion in the first decades of the medium. According to one early review, the book’s “overall argument” and “theoretical rigor” allow my “analysis of neglected photographic media and their conditioned uses to … illuminate new paths in the study of religion, media, and history.” Her scholarship has been published in refereed journals and collections, including American QuarterlyJournal of Africana ReligionsJournal of Southern Religion, the Oxford Handbook of Religion and Race in American HistoryReligion and Politics, and The Immanent Frame. Her recent research explores religion and race as grammars of American citizenship in the twentieth century through case studies in documentary photography, photojournalism, and other forms of media that orchestrate material objects as registers of the sacred, variously defined, into their visual claims. She is currently working on a cultural history of religion in St. Louis.


A Communion of Shadows: Religion and Photography in Nineteenth-Century America

Borderlands of the Sacred – The Immanent Frame

Religion and Politics, “Missouri: An Ozarks Native Crosses the Show Me State”

Rachel Lindsey CV

Pauline Lee, Co-Director

Pauline Lee is an associate professor of Chinese Religions and Cultures in the department of Theological Studies. She received her A.B. from Stanford University, her M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School, and her Ph.D. from Stanford University. She teaches East Asian religions and philosophy including courses in comparative ethics, Chinese civilization, world religions, and children’s studies, and previously has taught at Santa Clara University and Washington University. Her first monograph, Li Zhi, Confucianism, and the Virtue of Desire (SUNY Press, 2012), examines the 16th century thinker Li Zhi 李贄 and his views on the role of self-expression and desire in a good life. With Haun Saussy and Rivi Handler-Spitz she has co-edited A Book to Burn and A Book to Keep (Hidden)  (Columbia UP, 2016), the first book-length English language translation of Li Zhi’s major writings. Her current interests include the Jesuits in China and lived religions in the digital age. Professor Lee’s in-progress monograph, provisionally entitled Play in China: The Trifling, the Wicked, and the Sacred, examines changing views of play in China from ca. 200-1800 CE through a study of Chinese religious and philosophical classics and the rich but too often neglected tradition of commentaries on these works.


Li Zhi, Confucianism, and the Virtue of Desire

A Book to Burn and a Book to Keep (Hidden)

Matteo Ricci Speakers Series

Pauline Lee CV

Samantha Arten, Project Administrator

Samantha Arten received her Ph.D in musicology at Duke University (2018). In addition to this position as Project Administrator, she is a faculty affiliate with the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University and the Administrative Manager of the Women’s HOPE Chorale of St. Louis. Her musicological research is centered in the music of the English Reformation, and in addition to sixteenth-century congregational hymnody, her other interests include Reformation theology, print culture and book history, early music performance practice, and contemporary sacred vocal music. Her work can be found in Early Music and in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and the Arts.

Personal Website

Samantha Arten CV

Deepan Rajaratnam, Graduate Fellow

Deepan Rajaratnam is a PhD Student at Saint Louis University. Previously, he studied at Boston College where he earned a Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.). A scholar of constructive theology, Rajaratnam studies the intersection of ecclesiology and pneumatology with a particular interest in the laity. Building on the foundation laid by Yves Congar and incorporating ideas from Ormand Rush, Rajaratnam’s work focuses on the sensus fidelium in relation to local church. Employing a framework of communion ecclesiology and ecclesial synodality, Rajaratnam engages ethnography to further assess the sensus fidelium within local churches. More information about Rajaratnam can be found at www.DeepTheology.com.

Deepan Rajaratnam CV

Riley Mack, Undergraduate Research Fellow

Riley Mack is a soon-to-be junior at Saint Louis University studying communication with a focus in journalism and a minor in global studies and Spanish. She is incredibly passionate about newswriting, as she is the News Editor of SLU’s newspaper, The University News. Through her degree, she hopes to someday travel the world and write about her experiences. She also volunteers her time at a local St. Louis shelter because of her love for animals – starting with her beloved rescue pit bull, Ivy Jean. She is a newly baptized Christian that can’t wait to discover more about all the different religions in her favorite city, St. Louis.

Safa Siddiqui, Undergraduate Research Fellow

Safa Siddiqui is an Undergraduate student at Saint Louis University. She is pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Economics and will go to law school after completing her Undergrad. Given her concentration in business, she hopes to practice corporate law. Her contribution to the project consists of actively conducting ethnographic field research by exploring religious spaces and studying the behaviors, emotions, and thoughts of individuals in these spaces. Her involvement will help her in the field of law by allowing her to develop ways to gather valuable information and converse with subjects efficiently. These skills will be imperative to her legal research as she hopes to best serve large corporations.