Mark Toole Biography

August 1, 2009

August 1, 2009

Dr. Mark Toole is Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy at High Point University, as well as HPU's Director of the Honors Scholar Program. With degrees from the University of Denver / Iliff School of Theology, Chicago Theology Seminary, and DePauw University Toole specializes in the rituals and philosophies of Asian religious traditions due to his academic background in comparative religious analysis, Japanese Buddhism, Christian theology, and sociology. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion and the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies.

Born in Tachikawa, Japan, Toole lived in the nearby town of Fusa before returning to the United States with his family. After living in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin his family finally settled in the Chicago area, which he considers to be his true “hometown.” Professionally Toole spent several years working with colleges and churches in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, before beginning his doctoral studies in Denver. While in Colorado he taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder, as well as the University of Denver.

Some of his recent public talks include:
• “Understanding Gladwell: An Exploration of His Research and Thoughts”
• “Beginning a Journey Toward Unity: Multi-faith Dialogue”
• “The Tibetan Book of the Dead and Jacob's Ladder
• “Asian Thought and The Matrix
• “Vedantic Philosophy and Inception
• “What Would Buddha Do? Reflections on Blind Turtles, Hamster Wheels, and Washing Dishes”
• “Heavens and Hells: What Buddhists Think About Christianity”
• “Religious Commitment Amid Many Paths”
• “Buddha Is As Buddha Wears: Religious Commodification & Identity Construction”
• “Confucianism & Transcendence: The Ritualization of Social Structure”
• “Belief, Practice, Identity: A Tripartite Understanding of Religiosity”
• “Dharma, Karma, and Samsāra: An Examination of Ancient Indian Concepts”

Some of his recent publications include book reviews of the following works:
Virtual Orientalism: Asian Religions and American Popular Culture, by Jane Naomi Iwamura (Oxford University Press, 2011)
• Terror, Religion, and Liberal Thought, by Richard B. Miller (Columbia University Press, 2010)
• The Dialogue Comes of Age: Christian Encounters with Other Traditions, ed. by John B. Cobb and Ward M. McAfee (Fortress Press, 2010)
•  The Fundamentalist Mindset: Psychological Perspectives on Religion, Violence, and History, ed. by Charles B. Strozier, David M. Terman and James W. Jones (Oxford University Press, 2010)


Prof. Toole has led and/or co-lead study and service tours in Chile, Columbia, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Mexico, and Grand Cayman. His next student trip, conducted thru HPU’s “Maymester” program, will be to India in May 2015.

In his capacity as an advisor, Prof. Toole serves as faculty advisor/sponsor for the North Carolina Nu Chapter of the Alpha Chi National College Honors Society, Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity, HPU PRIDE: People Representing Individuality, Diversity, and Equality, The Odyssey Club of the Honors Scholar Program, and the HPU Rock Climbing Club.

At High Point University, Prof. Toole regularly teaches courses on Japanese and Chinese Buddhism, Daoist philosophy, Hindu ritual, and Confucian ethics. Beginning in the fall of 2013, he will also begin offering comparative courses on: the role of sages, monks, and ascetics in religious traditions of the world; religiously motivated fundamentalism and violence; and the role of mountains and pilgrimages in the world's religions. Along with his wife and two daughters, Prof. Toole now calls Greensboro, NC home.

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