Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Seeking Volunteers for Master's Thesis Project

Consent to Participate in Research

You are invited to participate in a research study entitled “Millennial Christians and Marijuana Use.” The study is being conducted by Sarah Faeth Sanders as a Master’s Thesis project under the supervision of Dr. Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook ( of Claremont School of Theology, 1325 N. College Ave. Claremont, CA 91711. Assisting in supervision is Dr. Grace Yia-Hei Kao ( of Claremont School of Theology.

Purpose of the Study: The purpose of this research is to examine the use of recreational marijuana among members of the Millennial generation who are 18 years or older (born 1980-1997) who self-identify as Christians and are in some way connected to a religious community through regular or occasional attendance or other connections such as employment, schooling, or online attendance via podcasts, etc. The individual experience of Christian Millennial marijuana users will be examined in order to understand the relationship between Christian identity and drug use in Millennials. Your participation in this study will contribute to a better understanding of changing attitudes toward marijuana use among religious people and how this may be unique among the Millennial generation. You are free to contact the investigator using the information below to discuss the study:

Sarah Faeth Sanders

Procedures: Your participation in this study will consist of one in-depth interview one to two hours in duration. With permission, this interview will be recorded. During this time you will be asked questions about your personal experiences that pertain to the research topic, including religious beliefs and affiliation, type and frequency of drug use, and personal beliefs and opinions related to marijuana.

The researcher may ask for permission to contact you after the interview with follow-up questions or may ask to observe you or your community in a field observation related to the research. If this is the case, separate permission will be obtained and no action will be required on the part of the participant. At no time will the researcher reveal your participation in this study during field observation. You will not be compensated for your participation. Research for this project will conclude with a final written paper submitted May 1, 2016. At this time, all data will be destroyed to protect the identity of interview subjects.

Risks and Confidentiality: There are no more than minimal risks associated with this study, including feelings of discomfort, anxiety, or embarrassment due to the personal nature of the interview questions. There are no costs for participating. Your name and contact information will be kept separate from research data for follow-up purposes only, and will be destroyed at the end of the project period on May 1, 2016. The primary researcher, Sarah Faeth Sanders, will be the only person with access to contact information or any other data collected during the duration of research. All personally identifiable information will be changed in research notes, transcriptions, and the final research paper in order to protect your identity. Once recorded audio of interviews has been transcribed, audio recordings will be destroyed. This will happen no later than January 1, 2016. At the time of the project’s completion on May 1, 2016, all other data concerning interviewees will be destroyed by the researcher in order to ensure the continued privacy of participants. No personally identifiable information will be released publicly or shared with anyone by the researcher. Personally identifiable information will not under any circumstances be shared with any law enforcement agency. Under U.S. Code 42 3789g, research information concerning past crimes is immune from legal process, and cannot be used in any legal proceeding as evidence.

Participant Rights: Your participation in this study is voluntary. You may decline to answer any question and you have the right to withdraw from participation at any time. Withdrawal will not affect your relationship with Claremont School of Theology in any way. If you do not want to participate, you may simply stop participating. To rescind information volunteered during interviews or to request non-inclusion in the project’s final written results, please contact the primary investigator before March 1, 2016. You have a right to request that research findings be made available to you upon completion of the research project by contacting the primary researcher. This research may be considered for publication in the future.

If you have questions about the study or need to update your email address please contact the primary investigator Sarah Faeth Sanders at 702-904-5771 or send an email to This study has been reviewed by Claremont School of Theology Institutional Review Board and the study number is 31.

If you have questions about your rights or are dissatisfied at any time with any part of this study, you can contact, anonymously if you wish, the chair of the Institutional Review Board by phone at (909) 447-6344 or email at

Thank you.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Thamel Boys

This is an excerpt from an essay I wrote this semester called "Maila Pani." This thread is about my trip to Nepal last summer.

The sprawling city of Kathmandu looks different from the ground, in the jagged, zigzag streets and alleyways, sharp turns and corners illuminated by clouds of dust cast into the air by rickshaws and old women selling corn.
Taxi? Taxi?” 
This is what I hear as I walk back to the guest house in Thamel, the taxi driver leaning out anxiously and hitting the side of his cab. I shake my head, keep walking. We’ve learned to walk most everywhere, our farthest destination usually being Ratna Park. Otherwise, unless we venture the distance to Pashupati, we are here, in Thamel.
Thamel’s streets are slightly wider than those we cut through to go to Ratna Park, paved to accommodate pedestrians and taxi drivers delivering tourists to their guest houses. These streets are familiar, the three of us tracing our steps exactly as we walk underneath the dozens of brightly colored signs advertising restaurants, coffee shops, and shisha lounges toward a small intersection up the road where Krishna will be waiting.
Chris!” Krishna has a high raspy voice that matches his boyish smile. The rest of him is far from boyish, from the dozens of cuts lining his arms like rows of corn, to the cigarette hanging limp from his scarred, dirty hands. This is the boy Chris came back for, who stole his heart last summer when he came to Nepal for the first time. Kevin and I returned with him expecting to find different reasons for being here, but we too found our hearts connected to this street corner, and we have been here every day since. I’ve never known whether to describe Chris and Krishna as brothers, friends, or something else entirely. At times Chris’ love for Krishna is like a father’s gentle concern, at others like a dear, old friend. Chris embraces Krishna and walks with him a little ways down the road, the two friends locked in silent conversation as they go.
Ashish is at his best right now, not to be disturbed as he approaches unsuspecting tourists, asking for money. When he’s rejected by one couple he nevertheless follows them down the road, winking at Kevin and me as he passes where we’re sitting on the curb. We’ve dubbed Ashish the most dedicated street kid, foregoing shoes in order to gain sympathy even though he’s higher up in the ranks of street boys. Anil is his only superior, the leader of the group. He’s the one who sat us down and sang worship songs the first night we were here, a routine he learned from missionaries and evangelists that he now uses to get drug money.
I’m assessing the street, looking to see if little Ramesh is working today, but he doesn’t seem to be here. He usually takes a break from begging when I’m around to lay his head on my lap and rest, occasionally trying to give me a kiss. Vijay is here, glue-bag in hand, arguing with Sunil on the corner opposite us. Vijay is my favorite, a 17-year-old boy with a deep love for attention and the unfortunate commission of doing the most degrading tasks necessary for the group’s survival. This is due to his most striking feature, a series of disfiguring scars that cover parts of his body and face, making him the most vulnerable in the group, and the one with the most to prove. He comes over and gives me a gentle hug, patting me characteristically on the back.
“Hello, Shara.” He lifts my water from its place on the sidewalk and pretends to sneak away with it, mischief playing at the corners of his mouth. “Vi-jay,” I say, prompting a sudden burst of laughter from Vijay, who returns my water and sits down between Kevin and me.
“Look, Vijay,” I say, pointing to my side satchel where I’ve sewn a beaded bracelet that he gave me last week. “SUMAN,” says the bracelet. I don’t know who Suman is, and I’m sure Vijay doesn’t either, but he beams with joy when I show him where I’ve placed his gift. “Sing, sing!” he says, and we break into a chorus of “Baby” by Justin Bieber. Vijay calls Chris over to “do the rap” and Chris complies, inserting Vijay’s name into the song and causing Vijay to burst into fits of giggling as we sing “Vijay, Vijay, Vijay, ohhh...”
Kev is scanning the streets for our friend Simone, a younger street boy who only occasionally shows up in Thamel. Whenever we see him his face lights up, eyes zeroing in on Kevin before he leaps into his arms, laughing. Chris and I watch as Simone clasps his hands around Kevin’s unshaven face, now broken into a wide smile.

I'm going back to these wonderful people in December! To find out more:

Monday, April 23, 2012


I move my body unnaturally at the edges of your being,
writhing in response to your movements
and away.
I watch, hawklike, for a sign of approval
that rarely comes.
Like a dog that hasn’t learned to find food on its own,
I wait outside your house until the meager nourishment comes,
Devouring it,
and wait again.
I have got to be alone with myself,
I have got to escape your unfocused eyes!
I didn’t want to make you like this,
But it was done long ago.
You were a god before I was born—
unwittingly the center of my incapable mind—
but ultimately
I tear, rip, and break at the seams where independence meets identity,
a lover unrequited,
and it would be strange to see you do the same.
I pull at my silk chains but all they do is give me paper cuts.
I have got to be alone with myself,
have got to escape your kind, powerful eyes,
Your benevolent gaze.

-Sarah Sanders, '12

Thursday, January 26, 2012

leave the light on

“Mama, what happens when we die?
Do we disappear into darkness,
like my hand does when the sun drops behind the mountains?
Do we evaporate like mist, gently lighting on the ground where we fell?
Or do we stop existing?”
“Mama, close the door, but not
all the way. Leave a light that I can run to when the darkness tries to take me.
Turn on a little TV, so I know you’re still out there.
Leave me now, but don’t go too far.”
When the sun goes down, is the whole universe dark?
Will I be able to see when I die?
Or will I be blind, deaf, and dumb?
Entombed forever in the knowledge of my own nonexistence,
Hold my hand while I sleep so that I don’t drift away.
I don’t like waking up alone.
The chill in the room wraps around my bones and strangles me with its persistent nothingness,
Its persistent nooneness.
Empty of Someone,
It is filled with ghosts and ghouls that could chase me off this bed and into something
called Hell.
Fill my ears with sound so that nothing else can get in.
Don’t let me think on this empty space anymore, 
Don’t let me die!
For that awful Figure will come to claim this life one day, Mama, keep him at bay.
“Baby, when you were born we all stood waiting,
wanting to welcome you home.
When you came, you were crying.
But when I held you, you were safe and warm.
That’s what happens when we die.
Everyone will be waiting for you to wake up,
And when you do,
You’ll never be alone again.”

-Sarah Sanders, '12

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cimmerian Shade

I’ve been in this Cimmerian shade too long
My heart of stone cries out for daylight’s heat
I pick the pieces up and carry on
It’s hard to say how long I have been gone
My muscles ache as I take to my feet
I’ve been in this Cimmerian shade too long
My joints are stiff where once they had been strong
They’re painful but they are not obsolete
I pick the pieces up and carry on
Before the dusk was gone I had withdrawn
Unable with this darkness to compete
I’ve been in this Cimmerian shade too long
I ache to find a cure for what is wrong
A source of light the darkness can’t deplete
I pick the pieces up and carry on
Perhaps if I can wait there’ll be a dawn
I shake the godlike guilt from my conceit
I’ve been in this Cimmerian shade too long
I pick the pieces up and carry on

-Sarah Sanders, '11

Monday, November 7, 2011


My feet have kept on walking though my body has gone dead
My limbs fall limp beside me, I cannot hold up my head
The sun beats down upon me, the mirage it makes is clear
It’s burning in my eyes and it is ringing in my ears
This path that I have tread, I can’t recall what it is named
I don’t know how I got here, I’ve forgotten why I came
My ankles long since broken, a disfigured silhouette
I walk toward the horizon and I stain the soil red
The earth cries out for water as the dust flees from the sun
It floats into my ears and looks for life, but there is none
Each step I take is muffled, and I think your voice is near
But my thoughts are screaming at me, and they’re all that I can hear
The movement automatic, I cannot seem to slow down
My footsteps have turned frantic, struggling to turn back around
I’m suddenly aware that I’ve been walking for too long
But I have long since lost the strength to say My strength is gone
I desperately remember what it’s like to see your face
I pray you’re up ahead somewhere, my feet pick up the pace
My breathing has gone heavy, and my body has gone dry
As despair dispels my energy, I cannot even cry

As consciousness creeps in, I find I’m standing very still
I think I could cry out now, but I don’t know if I will
I don’t know where I am, but I’ve a feeling I’m alone
So I sit and pray you’ll find me and you’ll carry me back home

-Sarah Sanders, '11

Friday, October 21, 2011

I Am Aware of the Darkness I Sit In.

I am standing,
face to face.
with a bright shining sun and a brilliant gleaming moon,
and your eyes, which make me uncomfortable with their kindness and warmth.
I don’t believe you.
My hands are drawn to you, grasping for your touch,
but my eyes want to turn away, shut tight for fear of seeing you cringe.
I feel your warmth radiate.
I hear your voice, full of friendship and love.
but I am illegitimate.
If I am looking into your face, I can feel myself come undone beneath the danger of loving you.
I am aware of the threat,
the terrorism that may pull me apart at any second
if I let these walls down and bare my soul.
the violence that will unfold if my passion is reciprocated,
the unfathomable destruction that will consume both of our lives
if we fall in love.
And I am aware of the darkness I sit in.
And I do not want to be its friend.
And I do not want you to leave me there.
and so I pray for violence,
and a burning light so bright I cannot help but reach out and touch it,
and be burned
and feel again