Section Identifier



Holly Hillgardner

Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Morlan Hall, 110

Dr. Hillgardner is a teacher-scholar trained in constructive theology, with a particular interest in comparative theology. The author of “Longing and Letting Go: Hindu and Christian Practices of Passionate Non-Attachment” (Oxford University Press, 2016), she teaches a wide variety of religious studies and philosophy classes at Bethany College, including the required course for all students.

Courses in world religions, social justice, and yoga and meditation are among her favorite classes to teach. She co-advises the Religion and Philosophy Club, and her research interests include mystic studies, ecology and religion, interreligious identity, gender studies, and transformative pedagogies.. Her current major project is a comparative theology of pilgrimage, which attends to the lived contexts of pilgrims in Spain and Japan, where she journeyed on sabbatical during 2018-19.

Having always been interested in all things “spiritual,” Dr. Hillgardner found that theology gave her the tools to think critically about the ways that religion forms our worlds.

Ph.D., Drew University (2013)
M.T.S., Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University (2005)
B.A., University of Texas at Arlington (1995)

Areas of Passion & Research
Constructive theology, gender studies and religion, ecology and religion, pilgrimage studies, transformative pedagogy

Personal interests
Traveling, hiking, surfing, reading

Favorite Quote, Book, or Movie … Why?
“The road to enlightenment is long and difficult and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.” — Anne Lamott, “Traveling Mercies”

She speaks to the serious and fun sides of my personality, and I’m reminded that those aspects of myself can coexist beautifully.

Recent Publications
“Longing and Letting Go: Christian and Hindu Practices of Passionate Non-attachment,” Oxford University Press, 2016.
Longing and Letting Go: Lessons in Being Human from Hadewijch and Mirabai, Comparative Theology: Insights for Systematic Theological Reflection, Comparative Theology: Thinking Across Traditions series, ed. Michelle Voss Roberts, Fordham University Press, 2016.
Between and Beyond Canons: Mirabai and Hadewijch in Relation to Scripture and the Self, Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies: Vol. 27, Article 5. 2014.
Spirited Transformations: Pneumatology as a Resource for Comparative Theology, in Divine Multiplicities: Trinities and Diversities, ed. Chris Boesel, New York: Fordham Press, 2013.