Ken Derry - Hearts & Minds Living Library
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Ken Derry

Teacher. Scholar. Student. Atheist
Atheist, Bestseller, Interfaith, Scholar

Dr. Ken Derry is currently Associate Professor of Religion (Teaching Stream), at the University of Toronto Mississauga. He has always asked a lot of questions, and is easily distracted. He spent his first two years as an undergraduate student in biophysics, then went on to English and Japanese literature before he finally settled on the study of religion — partly because it was a subject that he knew almost nothing about.


As a scholar, Ken’s main focus is on the ways in which modern cultural products relate to more traditional religious beliefs and practices. He is especially interested in how religion and violence link up in modern Hollywood films, believing that popular culture is incredibly important and influential (as well as fun!). What might the biblical apocalypse tell us about superhero movies, for example, and vice versa? In his essays and presentations, Ken has considered a range of topics including Christian symbolism, ghosts, Disney stories, ritual, Star Wars fans, humour, and teaching. His PhD thesis examined issues of religion and violence in modern Canadian Native writings, and is the first full Religion and Literature monograph to consider the works of North American Indigenous authors. Ken currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Religion and Film, is married, and has three cats.


More about Ken:


Ken Derry will be featured as a Bestseller at our Fireside Reading.

Compassion to me begins with the recognition of our shared humanity. It means caring for and about others and ourselves. It means empathy for others, but also more than empathy. Empathy is usually about relating to others’ difficult or painful experiences. But often we can’t really relate, because we haven’t had those experiences. And yet it is critical that we sympathize with the suffering involved, even while recognizing that we don’t *really* understand it because we haven’t been there. In this respect, compassion is about asking (not telling) someone what they need.