Thomas S. Bremer, Ph.D.
I followed a somewhat unusual path to an academic career with scholarly interests that have been not particularly orthodox or even entirely coherent. I usually tell people that I study American religious history with special interest in religion and tourism. This is a plausible explanation of what I do that covers the classes I teach (Religion in America, American sacred space, and related topics) and my record of scholarly publications (which can be found along with my curriculum vitae on the Publications page).
The story I tell myself, however, does not privilege my academic endeavors. I think of myself simply as a writer, not because I have published work but because writing has been my natural vocation since childhood. Certainly there are days, sometimes weeks, even months when I do not sit down to compose my thoughts in written form. But writing always returns to make me who I am. Whether by journaling, poetry, essays, commentaries, historical narratives, putting words to paper has been the single consistent reality that calms my soul and brings some lucidity to this perplexing life.
Some of what I have written you will find in these pages. Most of it remains out of view.
The Personal Story
I sometimes tell students that I had seventeen gap years between high school and college. I started studying at The Ohio State University in 1992 at age 35, completed my degree there in Religious Studies and went directly on to an M.A. and then Ph.D. in Religion at Princeton University, where I finished in 2001.
Many years before college there was a short-lived landscaping business in Orange County, California, where I had spent my childhood. My passage into full adulthood involved a long summer working in Yellowstone National Park where Melanie and I found each other. Our life together blossomed during our time at Rancho D’Eleanora, an avocado ranch we managed in northern San Diego County, California. We moved to Ohio in 1981, where we ran an insurance agency in smalltown America, then eventually I transitioned to an insurance, retirement, and estate planning practice while Melanie began college. A combination of midlife boredom, intellectual curiosity, and a twinge of envy convinced me to follow her. Once classes began, I never looked back. ♨
[The “hot springs” emoji ♨ suggests to me the first national parks (Hot Springs in Arkansas, and Yellowstone in Wyoming), but also the origins of life in superheated ancient environments. Plus it has a more personal meaning, but I save that only for those closest to me.]