Professor of Religion
Office: Hekman Library 377
Professor Obenchain graduated from Drew University with a BA in Religion. She received two Masters degrees from Stanford University, one in Philosophy of Education and a second in East Asian Studies. She completed her Ph.D. in Comparative History of Religion at Harvard in 1984.
She has taught at Kenyon College from 1980-1988. In service to the college, she served as Resident Director of a student exchange program and taught at Waseda University in Japan (1987-1988). Fall semester 1988 at Peking University, Professor Obenchain was the first western scholar to teach the academic study of religion in China, post 1949. From 1990-1993, as visiting professor at National University of Singapore, she taught East Asian philosophical traditions. From 1994-2002, Professor Obenchain taught full-time in China at Peking University, Fudan University and Zhejiang University, helping to establish departments of Religious studies. She has been teaching in the Religion Department at Calvin since January 2005.
Academic Interests/Areas of Specialization
Professor Obenchain specializes in the religious traditions of China and Japan, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. Her area of scholarly expertise is the Ru (Confucian) tradition, now a global tradition. As a comparative historian of religion, her research interests include globalization, plurality, world Christianity, and mission.
Dr. Obenchain joined Max Stackhouse in editing God and Globalization: Christ and the Dominions. Her textbook for the study of religion in Chinese, as well as her Small Dictionary for the Study of Religion in Chinese, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, are forthcoming. Professor Obenchain also served as a special editor and translator of Something Exists: Selected Papers on the Thought of Feng Youlan. Currently, she is working on a trilogy: 1) the meaning of the Ru and the "Confucian" tradition, 2) essays on Ru (Confucian) moral cultivation, and 3) Christ and the Ru (Confucian) culture around the world today.
Dr. Obenchain has given distinguished guest lectures at both Western and Asian universities. She has published many articles, in English and/or Chinese, on the Ru (Confucian) tradition, the study of religion, and world Christianity.
Religion 255 - World Religions
Religion 354 - Hinduism
Religion 355 - Buddhism
Religion 356 - Confucianism
Religion W40 - Worship traditions of Japan: Shinto, Buddhist, Christian
Philosophy 225 -Chinese Thought and Culture
When she is not writing, speaking or teaching Professor Obenchain enjoys Chinese landscape painting, gardens, and calligraphy. She also likes to go swimming, hiking, and biking.
Since 1988, Professor Obenchain has been actively engaged in helping to place more than one hundred outstanding Chinese graduate students and faculty members at major universities in the academic study of religion in the West.
In addition to living in China (for most of 16 years), in Singapore (5 years), Japan (1 year), Taiwan (1 year), and Brazil (1 year), Dr. Obenchain has traveled to Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar), in Brazil (Amazon, Salvador, Ouro Preto, Foz de Iquacu, Rio de Janeiro, the Pantenal, as well as Brazilia) and in India (Chennai, Benares, Delhi).
Japan Interim Summer Course, 2008
Traditions of Worship in Japan –
Shinto, Buddhist, Christian
Six Calvin College students participated in a summer interim course on Traditions of Worship in Japan, May 23 – June 8, 2008. The course examined Shinto, Buddhist and Christian traditions, history and practices in the country. The itinerary included Horyuji, Nara, Kyoto, Ise, Tokyo and Karuizawa. The program was organized and led by Religion Department And Asian Studies Program Professor Diane B. Obenchain and History Department lecturer (adjunct) Dennis Donahue.
KYOTO – Zen Temple . . . Calvin Students in a not-so-Zen moment.
Allison Thompson, Jooin Park, Christine Shin, Jay Conrad, Yire Seo,
HORYUJI – On the road . . . Jooin Park, Iriye Yire Seo, Christine Shin
NARA – Ritual cleansing before entering Shinto shrine.
NARA – Yire Seo observes customs at Buddhist temple.
KARUIZAWA – Breakfast at the Karuizawa Christian Center.
Kris Nevins, faculty advisor Dennis Donahue and Jooin Park
KARUIZAWA – After Sunday Service. Center, standing, are Thomas Edwards of
The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM) and Mrs. Nagahata, who provided music and her testimony for the students. Religion Department Professor Diane B. Obenchain is kneeling, left.
KARUIZAWA – Farewell photo before boarding the bus to Narita Airport.