Daniel Boscaljon was educated in the humanities—receiving a doctorate in Religious Studies with a focus on agnosticism and atheism, and a doctorate in English with a focus on 19th-century American Literature and narrative theory. This background provides him with a number of tools for interpreting the unknown, both at the level of meaning making and understanding the symbolic depth of myths and stories in a secular culture, and also in terms of how stories are produced—the logic internal to their creation. His interest in psychology led to taking a number of courses in psychoanalysis, and he has also spent time intentionally practicing ways of using his learning to help individuals find a deeper understanding of some of the life challenges they have faced.
Daniel’s expansive sense of humanism is grounded on an open appreciation for human potentiality, embracing (rather than erasing) our limitations and our finitude. As an agnostic theologian, exploring secularism, atheism, and Radical Theologies, Daniel has been long interested in how the attributes developed in religious or theological contexts (faith, hope, and love) are primarily human capacities that do not require an allegiance to (nor existence of) a particular god. Having explored the “traditional” figures of continental philosophy and theology, Daniel’s recent research and explorations have focused on feminist thought, black theology, queer theory, yogic philosophy, Tibetan Buddhism, and different kinds of spiritualist practices.
His vocation is education: Daniel has taught a wide range of subjects both inside and beyond the university system. He spent a decade coaching nationally recognized debate students and fifteen years teaching undergraduates in English, Religion, Philosophy, and Rhetoric departments at a number of Midwestern campuses. Daniel co-founded the Center for Humanist Inquiries based on his commitment to teaching adults beyond the university system. His classes, in each context, encourage students to develop critical thinking, reading, writing, and speaking skills with the explicit goal of living meaningfully and intentionally. Most recently, his vision for community education has sharpened to understanding the need to teach skills important for living wisely when approaching the second half of life.
Daniel has adapted his approach to teaching humanist inquiries in a number of different spaces—for a church, at a senior center, in a prison, as a book group. He has also moderated a series of public conversations focused on non-partisan approaches to political engagement. He also has offered a number of different skill based workshops over the past five years, ranging from creative writing to critical thinking to professional training. As an arts critic, Daniel has conducted a number of in-depth interviews with artists and his reviews emphasize how to thoughtfully engage with art, film, theater, books, and music.
In addition to local and scholarly articles, Daniel is the author of Vigilant Faith: Passionate Agnosticism in a Secular World (Virginia, 2013), and editor of Resisting the Place of Belonging (Ashgate, 2013) and Hope and the Longing for Utopia (Wipf and Stock, 2014), and Teaching Religion and Literature (Routledge, 2018). He is also a co-host on thesacredprofane, a podcast focused on critical inquiries into contemporary culture.
Dan lives in Iowa City with his brilliant daughter and their nervous, though noble canine companion, Jackson.
For a compiled list of academic, literary, and critical work, as well as classes recorded at the Center for Humanist Inquiries, see the ARCHIVE.