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My Manchester Story

Justin Lasser

by Lauren Hughes | Jun 06, 2019
Justin Lasser

Humans of Manchester University: Justin Lasser, Associate Professor of Religious Studies

“What brought you to Manchester?”

“Well, when you get ready to finish your doctoral studies  you begin to have an anxiety attack about finding a job. And teaching as an adjunct professor is not fun because it doesn’t really pay and there are a lot of things that are expected of you. So, in any case, you start applying. I had an interview here and in my field there are not many jobs — so when you get one you go! But that’s not the only reason I came. I had a choice of maybe teaching at my alma mater, but I wanted to come here. The people that were in my department were probably one of the most prominent reasons. So, I went from living in New York City on Broadway for seven years to the huge metropolis of North Manchester.”

“What got you interested in your field of study?”

“For me it was questions of meaning. My parents were going through a divorce; I felt like I was losing an anchor in life. I found refuge in the church and in the sense of meaning it provides. While I challenge many of those innocent notions today, that’s what got me interested in the question. So I’ve always had it – I never lacked it.”

“Are you working on any research or special projects?”

“Yes I am. One is on the composition of the earliest Christian texts – proto-Christian. Q, for example, is a hypothetical gospel behind Matthew and Luke. I’ve also named one of my cats after it (and Que also happens to be a Star Trek character and a God-like character). Another relates to the question of psychoanalysis and Christian faith.“

“What is your favorite class to teach?”

“I’d probably say ‘Rethinking God.’ I like that a lot. I also really enjoy ‘Jesus and the Gospels.’”

“What is something that most people don’t know about you?”

“I have my pilot’s license which most people don’t know. I also grew up in tights. My mom’s a ballet teacher so I took ballet – I had to. It was a very awkward stage in life – you’re in eighth grade and you’re wearing tights in The Nutcracker. I was once the Snow King. Sounds masculine, right? Well it’s not. I wore white tights with a white shirt that had a “V” all the way down. You know, ballet stuff with pirate-like sleeves.”

“What are your hobbies and interests?”

“I love nothing more than waking up on a Saturday morning, getting a cup of coffee and reading for hours. That doesn’t sound very exciting to you, right? I also look silly because I like to walk and read a book at the same time. And people honk at me because they think I’m going to walk into the road or something but I do it on long farm roads. I like to kayak on the ocean and rivers, but traveling is probably my best passion – my favorite passion.”

“What is your favorite thing about Northeast Indiana?”

“I think my favorite thing is probably the discussions you can have. Here, I’m in a college town and I hang out with people who are not always in my discipline and we learn from each other. You don’t get that all the time in big cities, and you don’t even get that in small towns – there is something unique about this environment. And I try to take advantage of that. We meet at the Main View on Tuesday nights and we have some awesome discussions – that’s probably my favorite. Also it’s got a beautiful fall, but a very weak spring.”

“What organizations and projects are you involved in around the community?”

“What I do most is [with] Timbercrest – I teach there … that’s probably my primary town thing. I lead a Bible Study every Monday night at the Main View with them. Every other Friday I do a talk on religious themes. I occasionally do something called “News Talk” which is at the Shepherd’s Center.”