Michael R. Ott
Department of Sociology
2156 AuSable Hall
Phone:� (616) 331-331-3799
A.� PERSONAL HISTORY
Home Address:� 1448 Mt. Mercy NW,
Telephone:���������� (616) 453-6206 (home)
Marital Status:���� Married to Mary Louise (Pierotti), September 24, 1977.
Children:����� Two sons:� Michael R. [b. August 4, 1979] and John R. [b. July 4, 1981.]
B.� EDUCATIONAL HISTORY
����������� Major:���� Religion
����������� Minor:���� History
����������� Degree:�� B.A., 1972.
����� 2.�� Princeton
����������� Major:���� New Testament Studies
����������� Minor:���� Systematic Theology
����������� Degree:�� Master of Divinity, 1975.
����������� Master�s Thesis:� �A Critical Comparison of the Theological, Ethical, and Eschatological Elements in the Writings of the Stoic Philosopher
�������������������������� Epictetus and the Apostle Paul.�
����������� Areas of Concentration:
a. Sociological Theory with emphasis on the contemporary schools of
����� thought; Critical Theory of
b.�� The Sociological Theory of Religion, which focused comparatively on the historical religious attempts at addressing the socio-political �theodicy� issue in both form and content.
c.�� Social Problems, focusing on the topics of Poverty, Class Analysis/ Stratification, the Militarization of contemporary society, and Future Studies.
����������� Dissertation:����� �Max Horkheimer�s Critical Theory of Religion: The Meaning of Religion in the Struggle for Human Emancipation.�
����������������������������������� [Chairs:� Ronald Kramer, Ph.D. Sociology, and Rudolf J. Siebert, Ph.D. Religion and Society.]
C.� PROFESSIONAL POSITIONS:
Minister at the First Congregational
a.�� This was a full-time ministerial position in which I was primarily responsible for the Christian Education program of the church, as well as performing all the rest of the duties of the pastorate, e.g., preaching, teaching, visitation, administration, conducting weddings, funerals, etc.
2. � Minister
of St. Peter�s United Church of Christ,
a.�� I was the first full-time minister in the 180 year history of this church.� Along with the regular pastoral responsibilities, I also had to organize the church administratively into a functioning organization.� This was done through establishing the various administrative committees that were needed to carry out the church�s ministry, administering and helping write the church�s Constitution and by-laws to become incorporated, as well as to bring the church into an active role in the community.
of the United
a. � During this time, I served on and chaired a number of Association and Conference Committees: Association Church & Ministry Committee for 5 years, Conference Church & Society Committee for 3 years, Chaired the Conference Peace & Justice Taskforce for 3 years.
b.�� In 1987, I was selected as the Michigan Conference United Church
of Christ�s scholar to speak to the need of the UCC developing a critical
theology at the Great Lakes Theological Symposium held in
c.�� It was also
in 1987 that I established a �Sister� church relationship between the Newaygo
church and a base Christian community church in
this time, I served on the Association�s Church in Society Committee, served on
the Board of Directors of the United Church Outreach Ministries and on the Board
of Directors of the Heartside Area�s Ministry which serve the poor and
b.�� I have led the congregation in changing both the system and structure of the church�s ministry from the old, hierarchical system in which the congregation is a passive observer to a grass-roots, congregationally owned ministry based on the third world model of the church as �comunidades eclesialies de base� - basic Christian community.� This has led to an empowerment of the congregation to do the ministry that the church professes. Through the implementation of �ministry groups�, members of the congregation have become knowledgeable of the economic-political causes of human suffering and injustice in the existing society. They have thus sought to put their faith into action by seeking a better, more just, loving, rational, humane, and peaceful future society.
c.�� While serving
5.�� During the Fall Semester 2001 and Winter Semester 2002, I taught 9
courses as a Visiting Professor of Sociology at
6.�� On August 12, 2002, I became a tenure-tract Assistant Professor
of Sociology at
D.� ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES:
1.�� Teaching Responsibilities:
the time of my doctoral studies, I was a teaching assistant to Dr. Rudolf J.
Siebert, professor of Religion and Society in the Comparative Religion
� Undergraduate Courses:
-���� Religion 334 ��� - ��� Religion in Modern Society - Fall 1994.
-���� Religion 332� �� -� �� Religion and Social Ethics� -� Fall 1995.
-���� Religion 323���� -���� Religion and Revolution - Summer 1999.
� Graduate Courses:
-���� Sociology 605� �� - ��� The Critical Theory of Society - Fall 1994.
-���� Sociology 605� �� - ��� Critical Theory of Art and Religion - Fall 1995.
-���� Sociology 605 ��� - ��� Three Theories of Modernity - Fall 1996.
-���� Sociology 605� �� -� �� Habermas�s Theory of Communicative Action:�
�������������������������������������� The Struggle for Recognition - Fall 1997.
-���� Religion 620� ����� - ��� Critical Theory of Religion - Spring 1997.
b.�� As an Adjunct
& Visiting Professor of Sociology at
� SOC. 201 [SWS] � Introduction to Sociology.
� SOC. 280 ����� � ���������� Social Problems [various sections], and
� SS. 384 �������� � ���������� Social Class Inequality.
c.�� Courses taught
as a Tenure-Track Assistant Professor of Sociology at
� SOC. 280 � � Social Problems,
� SOC. 385 � � Social Class Inequality ,
� SOC. 357� � � Sociology of Religion,
� SOC. 401� -�� Contemporary Sociological Theory.
� SOC. 380� -�� Globalization,
� SOC. 380� -�� Social Change,
� SOC. 399� -�� Independent Studies,
� Spring/Summer Reading Groups.
[In both 2003 and 2006, I conducted weekly informal seminars for Sociology Majors who wanted to read the works of the Critical Theory of Society and other contemporary works.]
d.�� Courses Taught from May - July 2007 at the P�dagogische Hochschule Schw�bisch Gem�nd [Part of GVSU�s International Partnership Agreement through the Sociology Department:]
� Sociology of Religion.
� Theories of Social Change.
Liberation Theology and Revolution in the
2.�� Teaching and Research Interests:
����� My teaching and research interests focus on the critical relationship in and between the economic, political, and social system of modern civil society's base structures, the society's cultural realm, i.e., aesthetics, religion, philosophy, and the condition and development of the individuals in society. Particular emphasis is given to addressing the question of how a more just, rational, humane, autonomous and reconciled society can be created from the existing social totality of modernity.
����� The dialectical corollary to this study is another issue of my research, namely, the question of why modern society, humanity, and history is moving more in the direction of increased irrationality and barbarism instead of the realization of not only modernity�s highest cultural ideals of Enlightenment, Justice, Equality, Freedom but also its economic, political, and social systems concrete potentials. My theoretical and practical work has sought to make a contribution to the development of such a critical sociological theory and praxis. The general fields of my research interest are:
a.�� the critical social theory of civil society and its political economy:� analyzing and critiquing the social class structure of civil society; the social problems area� of poverty; militarization of society; the development of a totally administered society; issues effecting labor, and work; the issue of the neo-liberal/neo-conservative globalization process and its critique.
b.�� the critical theory of religion:� developing the 3 distinct strains of the theory�s conception of religion and its sociological implications; comparatively researching the field of the sociology of religion as to how the various theories address the �theodicy� and �anthropodicy� questions; and addressing the �colonization� of religion � particularly the prophetic religions of Judaism and Christianity � by the currently dominant neo-liberal and neo-conservative social movements
� This last concern includes the critical comparison and critique not only of the development and social influence of what is called the �Christian Right� but also the theoretical analysis and critique of what its advocates are calling the �new paradigm� for the sociology of religion, that being the Rational Choice Theory of religion.
c.�� the sociological theory of philosophy:� developing the critique of materialism and idealism; developing the dialectical methodology of determinate negation; the import of Hegel, Marx, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud in the development of social theory;
d. the socio-psychological theory of humanity and the historical realization of human autonomy in social solidarity, as a critical standard by which to analyze the reified system and structures of modern society in the 21st century.
e. the theory and praxis/movements of social change/future studies.� The dialectical critique of the systemic antagonisms of modern civil society contain within itself a critical analysis of the possible future trends existent in the given status quo that is the material for social change toward a more reconciled future society.
Max Horkheimer�s Critical Theory of Religion.
The Future of Religion: Toward a Reconciled
Society. 2007. [Ed.] Michael R. Ott.�
b.�� Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles:
sociale de la religion� [The Social Ambiguity of Religion]� a critically
expanded version of Chapter 4 from my book on Horkheimer�s Critical Theory of
Religion, published in the critical French social journal, X-Alta: Terreur
et Sacralit�: dans la religion du Capital, Novembre 2004. Abjat/Bandiat,
Critical Theory of Religion Critique of The Globalization of Civil Society,�
published in Religion and Civil Society: Between Nationalism and Globalism,
� �Reclaiming the Revolutionary Substance and Potential of Religion: The Critical Theory of Religion,� published in the Michigan Sociological Review, Volume 19, Fall 2005. p. 155-180.
Critique of Neo-Liberal Colonization of Religion in the
c.�� Book Chapters:
Critique of the Ambiguity of Bourgeois Religion: Max Horkheimer�s Critical
Theory of Religion�, published in Religious Innovation in a Global Age:
Essays on the Construction of Spirituality, 2004. [Ed.] George Lundskow,
91,� my translation from German to English of Max Horkheimer�s article,
published in Marx, Critical Theory and Religion, 2006. [Ed.] Warren
Notion of the Totally �Other� and its Consequence in the Critical Theory of
Religion and the Rational Choice Theory of Religion,� �published in Marx, Critical Theory and
Religion, 2006. [Ed.] Warren Goldstein,
Horkheimer�s Negative Theology of the Totally Other.�� published in The Future of Religion:
Toward a Reconciled Society. 2007. [Ed.] Michael R. Ott.�
Society and the Globalization of It�s �State of
d.�� Book/Journal Article Reviews:
The Holocaust and Catholic Conscience:
Cardinal Aloisius Muench and the Guilt Question in
� �The Continuing Path of Distortion: The Protestant Ethic and Max Weber�s School Enrollment Statistics� for Critical Sociology journal, November 2007. [I advised not to publish.]
e.�� Published Editorial Work:��
Horkheimer�s Critical Sociology of Religion:
The Relative and the Transcendent. 1979.�
Rudolf J. Siebert.
Hegel�s Philosophy of History: Theological,
Humanistic, and Scientific Elements. 1979. Rudolf J. Siebert.�
The Critical Theory of Religion: The
From Critical Theory to Critical Political
Theology: Personal Autonomy and Universal Solidarity. 1994. Rudolf J.
Manifesto of the Critical Theory of Society
and Religion:� The Wholly Other,
Liberation, and the Rescue of the Hopeless.�
4.�� Works of Art:
a.�� My 2005 oil painting entitled �Searching Jester: There Must Be Someway Out of Here� was chosen by the Brill Publishers as the cover art of my book The Future of Religion: Toward a Reconciled Society published in June 2007.
5.�� Academic Papers Presented at Conferences and Symposia:
����������� a.�� Church in Crisis: Theodicy.� Paper presented in the 9th Future of Religion international course of the Inter-University Centre of Post-graduate Studies, Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, April 1985.
b.�� A Practical Theodicy:� A Political Theology of Resistance and Hope.� Presented in the Religion section of the
c.�� A Critique of Hans K�ng�s Ecumenical
Theological Program: Theology�s Need of the Critical Theory of Subject and Society.� Presented in the Religious Studies section
e.�� �Civil Society and the Globalization of It�s
f.��� �Max Horkheimer�s Negative Theology of the
Totally Other.�� Paper presented at
the Association of Sociologists of Religion in the Critical Theory of
Religion section on August 15, 2003 at
g.�� �A Critical Theory of Religion Critique of
The Globalization of Civil Society.��
A paper presented on November 10, 2004 in the fourth international
conference on Religion and Civil Society: Between Nationalism and Globalism,
sponsored by the
h.�� �A Critique of the Neo-Liberal Colonization
of Religion in the
i.��� �The Future of Religion: From War to Peace
Among the Civilizations.�� A paper
presented on April 27, 2006 in the 30th international course on the Future
of Religion, held at the Inter-University Centre,
j.��� �Translating the Prophetic Religions Eschatological Imagery of a Reconciled Society into Contemporary Social Praxis of Liberation.�� A paper presented on November 2, 2006 in the sixth international conference on Religion and Civil Society: Main Challenges to the Civilizations and their Responses sponsored by the University of Simferopol and held in Yalta, the Crimea, Ukraine.
k.�� �The Discourse Between Ernst
Bloch and Theodor W. Adorno on the Longing for Utopia.�� A paper given on April 24, 2007 at the 31st.
international course on the Future of Religion: From the Jus Talionis to the
Golden Rule held at the
l.��� �Perspective of Redemption in the Critical Theory of Religion and Society: Inverse Theology and the Dialectical Image.�� A paper presented on July 25, 2007 in the Critical Theory of Religion section of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion, Leipzig, Germany.
6.�� Academic Forums and Public Addresses, Interviews:
a.�� �Neo-Liberalism, Exploitation and Protest.�� An address presented during the Student�s
Day of Action at
b.�� �Addressing Religion as an Academic Subject in the Classroom.�� An address presented in the Faith in
the Marketplace of Ideas forum as part of the August 2002 Fall Teaching
c.�� �Three Alternative Futures.��
An address given on October 10, 2002 during a peace and justice rally on the Allendale campus of
d.�� �A Critique of the �Culture of Poverty.��� Address resented in a Forum on the topic
of the Culture of Poverty at
e.�� �Was Jesus a Communist?�� An address given on December 6, 2002 at the Marxist Enlightenment Society�s third campus symposium on Jesus and Marxism at Grand Valley State University.
f.��� �A Critical Look at the Fast Food Industry in the Context of the Global Capitalist System.�� Address presented on January 28, 2003 as part of a faculty panel discourse in the Fast Food Forum sponsored by the Students Against Sweat Shops.
g.�� On March 1, 2003, prior to our pre-war, anti-war march through downtown Grand Rapids, I was the guest speaker asked by various Peace and Justice organizations in Grand Rapids to addressed the more than 750 people gathered on the need for resistance, hope, and solidarity in protesting the Bush Administration�s push for invading Iraq.
I was again asked to speak at mass rally�s held
h. � On September 5, I
was interviewed on Wood Radio, 1300 AM by Gary Allen about comments made by a
former Presbyterian Minister, Paul Hill, who was sentenced to die by lethal
injection this day for killing an abortion doctor in
i.��� �Faith-based Responses to War.�� Address and following discourse was given on
September 20, 2003 as part of the People�s
j.��� On September 27,
2004, I was a panel participant with 3 other colleagues in an all-campus
k.�� On November 17, 2004, I addressed members of the Grand Rapids Union Label Coalition and other social activist organizations on the topic of WalMart�s exploitive labor practices and its destructive effects on communities.
December 22, 2004, I was interviewed on Catalyst Radio, WYCE, 88.1FM about my
recent rip to the
m.� On February 10,
2005, I made a presentation and was a panel member in
n.�� �The System Contradictions of Modern Civil Society and the Environmental Consequences.�� An address presented to the West Michigan Environmental Action Committee, March 4, 2005.
o.�� �CAFTA and Poverty.�� Presented as part of a
p.�� On November 14,
q.�� On January 3,
2006, I was again interviewed on Catalyst Radio, WYCE 88.1FM about my recent
trip to the
r.��� On June 26,
2007, I gave a public address and participated in a question-answer discussion
on the topic of �Patriotism in the
s.��� On July 9, 2007,
I gave a public address and participated in a question-answer discussion on the
topic of �Religion in the
7.�� Doctoral Dissertation Committee Member:
a.�� From September 2003 �
December 2006, I was a member of the Doctoral Dissertation Committee for Ms.
Rajka Zaninovic of the Department of Comparative Religion at
b.�� I am a member of the Doctoral
Dissertation Committee for Mr. Walter Jensen of the Sociology Department,
8.�� Awards & Recognition:
a.�� In the Winter Semester, 2002, I was chosen by the Student Senate of GVSU as one of the top 3 Professors at the University and was honored to give an address to students and faculty in �Last Lecture Series� on February 27, 2002.
April 2003, I was made into a Course Co-Director of the International Future
of Religion Course, which is held annually at the Inter-University Centre,
c.�� In April 2004, I was named Professor of the Year in Sociology by the Educational Support Program of Grand Valley State University.
April 2004, I was named Co-Director of the international course on Religion
and Civil Society, which is held annually in
e.�� On April 26, 2006, I was presented with a Certificate of Recognition by the Dubrovnik Inter-University Centre�s Director General, Dr. Krunoslav Pisk and the Executive Secretary, Ms. Berta Dragicevic for my years of involvement in building up the international program at the IUC through my work in the Future of Religion course.
f.��� On the basis of a student election conducted by the Student Senate, on March 15, 2006, I was once again honored to be chosen to give a lecture to students and faculty in the �Last Lecture Series.�
I was honored to be selected by the Sociology
Department to represent the Department and