Group Title: Connections : a newsletter for the Department of Religion at the University of Florida
Title: Connections
Full Citation
Permanent Link:
 Material Information
Title: Connections
Series Title: Connections
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Department of Religion, University of Florida
Publisher: Department of Religion, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: Fall 2004
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00091365
Volume ID: VID00004
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


This item has the following downloads:

02004religion-news ( PDF )

Full Text


A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida Fall 2004

D* r,., H .cl .ctt

after their experience as religion majors. What
has been striking in the responses we have
received is the gratitude that alumni have for
the formative influence of the department on
their lives. These letters also witness to the
variety of ways in which religious practices and
concern for others continue to animate our
graduates' lives. An overview of these respons-
es can be found elsewhere in this issue
(Catching Up with Alumni p.2). We also
include brief notes on all who have responded
to date (Alumni Notes p. 2).
The responses we have received also make
clear that our alumni are equally keen to con-
nect with us. It is my hope that this initial con-
tact will grow into a continuing conversation.
To that end we are urging our graduates and all
friends of our department community to visit
our web site to keep abreast of departmental
doings ( We are also
initiating an alumni list service (Two Ways to
Stay in Touch p.4). Through this free service
alumni and friends of the department are
invited to post and receive email in an on-
going conversation.


A! I r i L I 1 i .i ,, -, . i t,

department. Through this program, leading
thinkers on religious questions and their rela-
tionship to everyday life were invited to campus
to deliver major addresses and interact with
students and faculty. As the letters from our
alumni attest, questions of meaning and life's
purpose were central to their passion for the
religion major. As a way of highlighting this
abiding interest and honoring our continuing
connection to our alumni we are now thinking
about returning to the
animating impulse of while always a transj
the "Religion in Life"
students came to expli
program by inaugurat-
ing an annual alumni interests in religion, ti
lecture by a distin- well a place where or
guished thinker who
g ui e thi n r w o exp lo ring q u estio n s a t
might address such basic eloring questions a
questions as "What is the religious studies d
worth doing?" or "What
is the relationship between religion and every-
day life?" This lecture would be followed by a
reception welcoming back all our alumni and
again encouraging a continuing conversation.
At this point this is just an idea that will take

he 6

Catdc ingi Up WVilh Aluimni ... ..... ... ..... pdae '
A lum ni LU pda es ... . ... .. ....... .. ..... ...
Alum ni Le.-tiu e Fund. ..... ..... ..... ... ..... ..... .... ..... ...4
Ru-ell Lu\ell J3l-g Award... .. ..... .... ..... ..... .... ..... ....4
T ,o W as'. tu Sta, in Touch..... ..... ..... ..... ... .... ..... .. ....4
Into' New T-erritor', \;isquet ('.r es Forth Studs b n Re-rli;rn Inimiig;.tioi ..... ....5
Ficult', Nows .................. .......... ...... . .... ..... ...
Bi idge of LUnderst.andihn Evplolf- JeMisl-Cer iJ,ii Relar isnslip ..... ..... .... .8
MN Iik Your C: lenders ..... ..... ..... ..... .... ..... ..... ..... ..... 8

some support from you to make it a reality. To
that end, I invite you to communicate with me
via email ( and to
consider a contribution to the department for
this purpose (p. 4).
In recent years the department has built
upon this solid history of undergraduate teach-
ing to develop an innovative future-oriented
graduate program led by
native place where influential faculty
exploring terrain at the
theirpassionate leading edges of the reli-
department is now as gious studies discipline.
ial thinkers are The pioneering work of
Manuel Vasquez (Into
rather reaches of New Territory, p. 5) is
line. but one example of
advances being made
throughout our faculty (Faculty News, p. 6)
that are facilitating the department's rapid rise
both within the university and nationally
among religious studies programs. We have
now admitted two classes of graduate students
to our PhD tracks in Religion and Nature,
Religion in the Americas, and Religions of Asia
(for more on this, visit our web site). We are
presently expecting to add a new faculty mem-
ber in indigenous religions with more hiring to
follow. While always a transformative place
where students came to explore their passionate
interests in religion, the department is now as
well a place where original thinkers are explor-
ing questions at the further reaches of the reli-
gious studies discipline.
I welcome all of you and invite you to join
with us in our continuing adventure.


Todd Best

his past summer we sent out letters to the more than 500 students who
Shave graduated with a B.A. or M.A. from our department since 1970.
We wanted to re-connect, find out how they are doing, and how their experi-
ence as a religion major has played out in their lives.
To date more than fifty alumni have responded by email and letter, with
more on the way. Most everyone, like Lynn Edgar ('96), thought it was
"great" to hear from us and one, Rolly Blanchette ('76) even followed up his
letter with a visit. While replies varied in length from a couple of sentences
to a couple of pages, most saw our letter as an opportunity to reflect on their
time in the department and strike up a memory or two.
One or more professors' names appeared in almost every reply. Among
the faculty of the I970s, Sam Hill was frequently mentioned as a professor
who genuinely cared for students. One alumnus told of how, when in need
of a faculty member to represent him in his struggles with the registrar, a
random encounter led to Sam taking up his case and becoming his academic
advisor. Gene Thursby's role in the intellectual development of students was
noted a number of times, as was the influence of Delton Scudder, Shaya
Isenberg, Taylor Scott, Dennis Owen, Barry Mesch, and Richard Hiers all
faculty who played significant roles in students' lives. Several alumni com-
mented that the professors they encountered in the department, along with
the actual course work, were the primary catalysts in shaping them for the
paths their lives would take.
These former students see their academic training in religion as a
grounding for careers in other arenas. Some indeed went on to graduate
study in religion. Lisa Breglia ('96, MA) is now teaching at Wesleyan
University. Darren McClellan ('98) is a Methodist minister in Mobile,
Alabama. Many more were like David Stearns ('88), now a divorce lawyer in
Boca Raton who credits the department for helping to prepare him for the
"pastoral role" of "counseling someone through this difficult passage." Law,
counseling, and education appear to have been the chosen fields of those who
responded. Yet frequently alumni report, like Charles Cannon ('82), who
works with computers, that "My study of religion has helped me to relate to
persons of other faiths, and provides me with a framework for the investiga-
tion of things beyond my understanding."
Finally, a number replied to a question in our letter about their parents'
attitude toward their choice of a religion major. They said that indeed it was
a topic around the dinner table, but eventually their parents came around.
As Audra Berg ('95) remarked, "My parents thought that I was nuts, but they
never gave me a hard time." What seemed to have convinced them was the
students' real passion for the field. As Fred Chaiken ('78) put it, "I fell in
love with the study of religion."
While the emails and letters continue to arrive, there is a clear pattern of
genuine fondness for the department and the role it has played in shaping
lives. In addition, everyone said they were glad to receive the letter and happy
to hear about developments in the department, both now and in the future.
In turn, it is the hope of the department that this initial contact will grow
into an on-going conversation. Through events announced on our web site
and the new alumni email list service, those who have been with us before are
now invited to join with us again in creating what we hope will be an endur-
ing community of friends and supporters of the Department of Religion. If
you have not already told us that you want to be on this list service, please see
"Two Ways to Stay in Touch" (p. 4) and drop David Hackett a note letting us
know what you have been doing (

1973 Sherry L. Hymanwent on to law school at
UF, graduating in 1975. She is now practicing
law inJupiter, Florida.
1976 Roland Blanchette received an MA in
Anthropology from UF in 1979. In 1980 Rolly
took a teaching job at Massasoit Community
College in Brockton, Massachusetts, where he
has been for 24 years. He is currently chair of
their Social Sciences Department and teaches a
survey class on the world's religions.
1978 Fred Chaikenwent on to Emory University
Law School in Atlanta, where he continues to
practice as a trial lawyer and is the newly elected
President of the Greenfield HebrewAcademy, a
Jewish day school with approximately 500 stu-
Brian Vanlandingham went on to divinity
school at Iliff in Denver and then Duke before
receiving a degree in information management.
Brian is now a systems programmer with a state
agency in North Carolina, drawing and painting
on the side.
1982 Charles Cannon is a computer specialist in
Palm Beach County where he also serves as a
Deacon in the Episcopal church.
1987 Matt Cetlinski, after retiring from coaching,
now lives in Gainesville where he is working on
building an acupuncture and bodywork practice.
1988 Matthew Dobbins completed the Counselor
Ed. graduate program at UF and is a school
counselor in Marion County.
Steve Prescott, after getting a law degree,
practiced law for several years. He now teach-
es religion courses at Southeastern College in
Wake Forest, North Carolina, and is working
on a book on Baptist history.
David Stearns is a divorce lawyer and chil-
dren's advocate in Boca Raton.
1989 Maribeth Englert received an MA in theol-
ogy from Notre Dame, taught religion at LaSalle
High School in Portland, Oregon, was an ele-
mentary school principal in Washington, and is
now raising a family in New Mexico.
1990 Lynn Vallentine Edgar completed the
Counselor Ed. program at UF, and is pursuing a
PhD in that area while working as a hospice
social worker in Levy, Gilchrist, and Dixie
1991 Kimberly Kasow went on to complete med-
ical school and now works in the Division of
Stem Cell Transplants at St.Jude's Children's
Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Kim also
serves as Chair for the Youth Commission at
Beth Shalom Synagogue.

page 2 Fall 2004, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of florida

Fall 2004, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

page 2

Scott Solkoff is a lawyer in
Boynton Beach where he works with
clients facing end-of-life issues.
Robin Nuzum received Masters
degrees in Divinity and Social Work
from Chicago Theological Seminary
and the University of Chicago,
respectively. She is now a PhD stu-
dent in English at UF and has a pri-
vate psychotherapy practice.
1992 Bob Small, after leaving UFwith
a BA in Religion and a BS in
Advertising, went in to retail man-
agement. He is now Senior Vice
President of a sports apparel compa-
ny that creates inspirational silk

1993 David McArthur, after serving
in the Marine Corps, now works in
pharmaceuticals and volunteers in
his local church.

1994 Sun Chae, after completing an
MA in the department, now teaches
Religion and Humanities courses at
Asheville-Buncombe Technical
Community College in Asheville,
North Carolina.
Lisa Saponaro went on to get a
Masters in Mental Health
Counseling at Nova Southeastern
University, followed by a PhD in
Counseling Psychology from the
University of Memphis. Lisa now
works as a therapist for homeless
men who are in recovery. She gave
birth to her first child, Adell Diana,
inJune, 2004.

1995 Audra P. Berg worked in
Chicago at the Jewish Federation for
five years, then with the United
Jewish Communities Chicago office
for two years. CurrentlyAudra is in
New York where she directs a small
non-profit organization that oper-
ates within the Jewish Federation sys-
tem to create gender equality in
Jewish organizational life. She also
serves on the Board of Directors of
the UF Hillel Center and has joined
our department's Advisory Board.
Adam Bigbee teaches special edu-
cation at Paul VI Catholic High
School in Fairfax, Virginia.
Sam K. Zawahry practices law in
Panama City, Florida.
1996 Lisa Breglia completed an MA in
the department, later started a
Cultural Studies program at George

Mason University, and then com- UF. She plans on working in private
pleted a PhD in Cultural practice as a marriage and family
Anthropology at Rice in 2003. She therapist in Gainesville.
is now a Visiting Assistant Professor Raduns
at Wesleyan University, with her first prac g Fam iy Law in Oc
book to be published in 2005Ocala.
book to be published in 200g.r

Louis Reinstein went on to
Emory University where he earned
an MA in Jewish Studies in 1999.
For four years he taught middle and
high school at a private Jewish day
school, and is now in his second year
of law school at Nova Southeastern

1997 Dan L. Edmunds completed an
MA in Religious Studies at the
University of Scranton in 1999
where he specialized in Eastern
Christian Studies and began working
as a therapist with adolescents. Dan
is now in a PhD program in pastoral
community counseling.
Phil Schwadel went on to gradu-
ate study in the Sociology of Religion
at Penn State University, earning a
PhD in 2003. He is now in the sec-
ond of a two-year post-doc at the
University of North Carolina where
he works on the National Study of
Youth and Religion project.
Dominic J. Prioli is a regional
administrative manager for
RaymondJames &Associates in St.
1998 Chris Mixer went to work as an
Episcopalian youth minister for five
years in Panama City, Florida. He is
a youth minister in Birmingham,
Alabama and is in first year at Beeson
School of Divinity, also in
Van Fox, after completing an MA
in the department, started a PhD in
religion at Florida State University.
He recently transferred to a Master's
program in social work at FSU.
Darren McClellan received a
Master of Divinity degree from
Emory University and is a Methodist
minister in Mobile, Alabama.

1999 Michelle Kempker went to the
Florida School of Massage in 2000
and is a massage therapist in Naples,
2000 Bhakti Cohen recently complet-
ed a Master's degree in Education
and an Education Specialist degree
in Marriage and Family Therapy at

Patti Rausch, after completing
the MA, went on to doctoral work in
Marriage and Family Therapy. Patti
has taught world religions courses at
Daytona Beach Community College
and at Stetson University. She is a
marriage and family counselor.
Jennifer Williams is the regis-
trar at Full Sail Real World
Education in Winter Park, Florida.
2001 Ted Yeatts is Program
Coordinator for the Salvation Army
in Gainesville.
Paul Norman graduated from
FSU law school and works as an
attorney in Boca Raton.
Sarah McCombs received her
MA from the department and now
teaches religion courses at the
University of West Florida and
PensacolaJunior College.
2002 Alien Hamlin went on to theo-
logical studies at Dallas Theological
Seminary, where he is in his third
year of a ThM, in an interdiscipli-
nary track in Bible Exposition and
Christian Education.
Todd Best, since completing an
MA in the department, went on to
the University of Missouri to begin a
PhD program in philosophy. When
that did not work out, he returned to
Gainesville to work as a media writer
and computer liaison for the depart-
ment. Todd is also Program
Administrator at the Christian Study
Center of Gainesville.

2003 Jay Allbritton is currently look-
ing into career opportunities in
public service, politics, journalism,
and publishing.
Jennifer Breman is in a
Master's program in School
Guidance Counseling at UF.
Kevin Jones has been working
with the National Guard at Camp
Blanding in Ocala, Florida.

Fall 2004, Connedions, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of florida page 3

Fall 2004, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

page 3

he Department of Religion hopes to provide students with
academic experiences
that will offer perspective on A
religion's role in our every- C L A S
day lives. We hope that CoouE OF IllBEH SON IS
through an Alumni Lecture ,
Series and other activities
both students and alumni
will gain insights from some
of today's most brilliant
minds. These occasions will -~IT OF0
also offer the opportunity
for today's classes to connect with those who came before them.
Please consider a gift to the Department of Religion to sup-
port the department's critical educational activities for those fol-
lowing in your footsteps. Please complete the form and return to
the address below. Thanks for your support!
David Hackett, chair
ih,. I.... t ~. h ..h,

Yes! I would like to support the Alumni Lecture
Series! (Fund #00767)

Amount: (please circle)
$I000 $500 $250 $100

Please choose a payment method:

Credit Card
Type: VISA MasterCard
Exp. Date:

$50 $.


Please make checks payable to: UF Foundation, Inc.
City: State:

Please complete the above form and return it to:
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Office of Development & Alumni Affairs
University of Florida Foundation, Inc.
PO Box 14425
Gainesville FL 32604-2425

Since 2001, the Department of Religion has chosen annual
recipients of the Russell Lowell Jaberg Award for
Academic Excellence. Dr. Russell LowellJaberg, retired
University of Florida humanities professor, devoted his
life to his love of religion and theology.
This memorial award was created in his honor.

Award Recipients
Nurjehan Saju
Katie Erin Lutz

Allen Hamlin

Jordan Kempker

Henry Marrion
Matthew Ulrich

ext time you're surfing the web, visit the department web
site at It's a great way to keep
in touch with what is happening in the department. Also,
alumni are encouraged to participate in the Department of
Religion alumni list service. Alumni on this list may post and
receive email to and from other alumni and the department.
This service is free, and you may unsubscribe anytime you wish.
Those of you who responded to our "getting in touch" letter
sent in July are already on this list. For others, to subscribe
either send email to or subscribe
directly by sending email to alumni-religion- In the body of your message, type: sub-
scribe end We hope you will join us in conversation online!

page 4 Fall 2004, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

Fall 2004, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

page 4

ince its very beginnings, America has
been a place where immigrants have
sought political refuge and the promise of a
better life. But immigration has also brought
with it a complex collection of issues and
quandaries. Department of Religion
Professor Manuel Vasquez is interested in a
particular set of questions related to transna-
tionalism, the cultural, economic, and reli-
gious exchange that takes place as migrants
come to the US, then through a variety of
means transfer information, finances, and
religious or cultural ideas back to their
homeland. Two years ago, Vasquez, along
with Anna Peterson (Department of
Religion) and Philip Williams (Department
of Political Science), published a book called
i,. i, r,.,t, Social Change, and Globalization in the
Americas (Rutgers University Press, 2001)
where they explored the role of Christian
churches in addressing religious social prob-
lems raised by transnationalism and global-
ization. The book was the culmination of a
study funded by Pew Charitable Trusts that

"The project serves as a model of wh

lic intellectuals might do to turn scho

in the academy into something that s

society in direct ways. "

looked at Christianity's changing face among
Peruvians and Salvadorans.
Vasquez's current project builds upon
this earlier study but now takes a closer look
at the "everyday lived religion of the immi-
grants." Funded by the Ford Foundation, the
new study considers the realities of immigra-
tion and its effects upon the ways that
migrants "experience religion, both inside
and outside of institutions." Specifically,
Vasquez and company are looking at
Mexicans, Guatemalans, and Brazilians in
What this study seeks to illuminate is the
various changes that are taking place among
the immigrants and their impact beyond

their communities throughout the US.
"What is happening in terms of diversity,
nationality, country of origin, and also the
patterns of settlement that we're seeing in
Latino populations," he asserts, is a
metaphor for things to come nationwide."
The changes happening here in Florida can
be projected on to a national stage. One of
these changes is that Latino populations are
themselves becoming more diversified, no
longer made up mostly of Mexicans, Puerto
Ricans, and Cubans, but now coming from a
wider range of Latin American countries
with different social classes, religious affilia-
tions, and patterns of settlement. The study
is an attempt to understand how these
changes among Latino migration patterns
and religious affiliations impact the social,
demographic, and religious situation in the
state of Florida and beyond.
To take it a step further, Vasquez wants
the study to acknowledge the tensions that
these changes create. The different cultural
patterns among immigrants bring with them
different understandings of
religion, gender, and family
life, and these will undoubted-
at pub- ly collide in different ways with
the American mainstream.
larship This leads to one of the
unique components of the
erves study: that it will cultivate pub-
lic dialogue. About this,
Vasquez says, "Part of the idea
of the study is to see where
those points of tension might
emerge and look for ways in
which tension can be resolved. The way we
think it can be resolved is not by segregating
or rejecting the immigrants but rather by
bringing the immigrants into the civic con-
versation in such a way that they become
engaged, involved partners in the building of
America as we go into the 21st century."
The project serves as a model of what
public intellectuals might do to turn scholar-
ship in the academy into something that
serves society in direct ways. On one hand,
there is a strong academic component which
will produce articles and books, including
ethnographic and ethnostatistical studies of
the communities' religious practices and
affiliations. On the other hand, the project

will create a conversation and thereby actually
involve those immigrant communities in
resolving the tensions they face.
How this conversation can be created
will take some effort. Vasquez says that first
the Latinos must be welcomed and accepted
as "legitimate partners in the construction of
America." To enhance visibility of the hith-
erto marginalized communities, the project
will organize workshops that will bring
together scholars, community leaders, media
representatives who work on public policy,
and local and state government workers.
These immigrant communities are here to
stay and, says Vasquez, "they are also con-
tributing, paying taxes, sending their kids to
school, buying businesses, buying homes,
and revitalizing economies that were often
basically decimated by industrialization and
other socio-economic problems."
As the project comes to a close in the
next couple of years (this is the last year of
research), Vasquez already has ideas of push-
ing the study to the next level. This will entail
going back to the communities of origin of
these immigrants to see how the homeland
communities have been effected by immigra-
tion to the US through financial transfers or
cultural ideas that move back and forth.
Ultimately, this would move the focus of the
study back to Latin America, which the
research team sees as instrumental in under-
standing the US.
Wherever Vasquez's project ends, it
serves as a model of what it might look like to
do interdisciplinary research across national
and cultural boundaries, drawing upon aca-
demic resources from the various locales,
and actually involving those people studied
in a public conversation to resolve possible
tensions illuminated in the study. By bring-
ing together "multiple disciplines in the
social sciences and humanities," Vasquez
hopes that this project will begin "to break
down borders so that we don't claim that any
country is exceptional to another."

Fall 2004, Connedions, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of florida page 5

Fall 2004, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

page 5

Nina Caputo (University of
California, Berkeley, 1999)
joined our department in the
fall of 2003. A student of
Iberian Jewry in the High
Middle Ages, she holds a joint
appointment in History and
Religion. Dr. Caputo is com-
pleting a book manuscript
entitled, "On the Threshold
of Redemption: Time,
Community, and History in

Richard Foltz (Harvard,
1996) continues to pursue his
interests in Islam, Ecology,
and Animals. Following the
publication of his Spirituality in
the Land of the Noble: How Iran
-.,.. .I the World's 5.1,,, '
(Oneworld Publications,
2004), his edited volume on
Environmentalism in the Muslim World
(Nova Science) will be pub-
lished this spring. Dr. Foltz's
path-breaking work on reli-
gion and animals has led to
his course on this topic being
nominated by the Humane
Society of America for their
annual Animals and Society
Award and to his current book
manuscript "They Are
Communities Like You:
Animals in Islamic Tradition
and Muslim Culture," to be
published by Columbia
University Press.

David Hackett's (Emory,
1986) article on "Religion and
Class in American History" is
forthcoming in the winter
issue of. I.,, a ndAmerica

Richard Hiers (Yale, 1961)
has been appointed a
"Distinguished Fellow" at the
Eckerd College Center for
Spiritual Life. He recently
published "Institutional
Academic Freedom: A
Misconception" in the Journal
of College and University Law.

Leah Hochman (Boston
University, 2000) will spend
this spring as a Skirball Fellow
at the Oxford Centre for
Hebrew and Jewish Studies at
Oxford University, where she
will be completing her book
on conceptions of the ugly in
19th-century religion and aes-
thetics. Her paper
"Approaches to Jewish
Studies: Teaching a Methods
Course" will appear in Teaching
Theology i<,,,.1.1 .I, in spring

Shaya Isenberg (Harvard,
1968) is on research leave
after six productive years as
chair of the department. He
continues as a guiding force
behind the Center for
Spirituality and Health.

Gwynn Kessler's (Jewish
Theological Seminary, 2001)
article, "Let's Cross that Body
When We Get to It: Gender
and Ethnicity in Rabbinic
Literature" will be published
this spring in the Journal of the
American Academy of-. I,, i, She
is completing her book,
"Reconceiving Israel: The
Fetus in Rabbinic Narrative."

Jim Mueller (Duke, 1986)
currently serves as Associate
Dean of the College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences.

Vasudha Narayanan
(Bombay, 1978) has complet-
ed her administrative service
to the American Academy of
Religion, where she was
President in 2001-2002, and
is now diving headlong into a
new project on Hinduism in
Cambodia with the assistance
of an American Council of
Learned Societies Fellowship.

Jason Neelis (Washington,
2001) received a German
Academic Exchange award to
travel to Germany on research
this past summer. His article
"Hunza-Haldeikish Revisited:
Epigraphical Evidence for
Transregional History" is
forthcoming in Karakoram in
Transition The Hunra Valley edited
by Hermann Kreutzman
(Oxford University Press).

Anna Peterson's (Chicago,
1991) exploration of the ways
that religious ethics are
embodied, articulated, and
transformed in agrarian com-
munities in Latin America
and the United States, Seeds of
the i ,,.i1 I,, Utopian Communities in
the Americas, is forthcoming
from Oxford University Press.

Mario Poceski (UCLA,
2000) will be spending this
academic year as a Research
Fellow in Chinese Studies at
Stanford. His book manu-
script, "The Hongzhou

School and the Formation of
Chan Orthodoxy," has been
submitted for publication to
the University of Hawaii Press.

Gwendolyn Zoharah
Simmons (Temple, 2002)
traveled this summer to
Morocco for Arabic studies
and to research new develop-
ments in Moroccan Islamic
family law. A veteran of the
civil rights movements and a
scholar of Islam, Dr.
Simmons is at work on a book
on the "Impact of Islamic Law
on Women."

Bron Taylor (University of
Southern California, 1998)
has recently published "A
Green Future for Religion?"
in Futures Journal and "Threat
Assessments and Radical
Environmentalism" in Terrorism
and Political Violence. His path-
breaking Encyclopedia of- 1, ., ,
and Nature (Continuum) will be
published in the spring.

Gene Thursby (Duke, 1972)
is on research leave this year.
He recently co-edited with
Sushil Mittal The Hindu World
(Routledge, 2004).

Manuel Vasquez (Temple,
1994) has co-edited Immigrant
Faiths: Transforming s. I1, Life in
America (Altamira, 2004). He
also recently signed a contract
to produce a book on 5.1., I.
and Contemporary Social Theory for
Oxford University Press.

Professor Leah Hochman will spend the Spring 2005 semester as a participant in the Skirball Fellows Program at the Oxford Centre for
Hebrew andJewish Studies at Oxford University. The program annually invites 5-7 visiting scholars to do research in community at the
Centre. Scholars, who are international in their make-up, live on the grounds of the Yarnton Manor where OCHJS is located. With access
to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, they pursue areas of research in a broad range ofJewish studies. Hochman's research will
focus on the i8th century pseudo-science of physiognomy, which purported to identify relationships between physical appearance and
moral behavior.


page 6

Fall 2004, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida


S!,,li.. F,. .. .!., F! l. -. ,..!.lH H i-, 'I h., ..,l .l .. !-

guished service to the University of Florida and the Gainesville com-
munity. His significant contributions to the work of two interna-
tional professional societies, the American Academy of Religion and
the Society of Biblical Literature; to two of the oldest honor societies
in the United States, Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi; to the
American Association of University Professors, and to other groups
that seek to improve professional relations in academic institutions
were acknowledged, too. Dr. Hiers served as a local and regional
officer in several of these organizations.
Tributes were offered by Linda Wells on behalf of the depart-
ment's Advisory Committee, by Fahaa Baden-Roberts on behalf of
former students of Dr. Hiers, by Chemistry Professor Gardiner
Myers on behalf of Phi Beta Kappa, and by former President Robert
A. Bryan on behalf of several generations of members of the univer-
sity community who have appreciated the efforts of Dr. Hiers to
contribute toward collegial governance.
Richard Hiers holds a PhD degree from Yale University and a
JD degree from the University of Florida. He has published exten-
sively in the field of Biblical studies, including widely appreciated
work on the quest for the historicalJesus and Biblical ethics. Among
his several authored books, the first is Jesus andEthics: Four interpretations

Associate Professor Richard C. Foltz recently published Spirituality
in theLandoftheNol.l. .. ij., i,.t..i .I,. ;I /./ h. >ns (Oneworld
Publications, 2004). Here, Foltz applies an historical analysis to
demonstrate the variety of ways the culture of Iran has influenced
the world's spectrum of religions. In so doing, he traces the
Iranian influence from the origin of Iran itself down to present
day religious movements.

Professor Vasudha Narayanan has received an American Council
of Learned Societies Fellowship for the 2004-05 academic year.
Co-sponsored by the Social Science Research Council and the
National Endowment for the Humanities, the ACLS awarded
only 20 fellowships to full professors from an applicant pool of
over 1200. Her research project, "Churning the Ocean of Story:
Retelling Narratives of Hinduism in Cambodia and India," com-
pares the structures, styles, and motifs of temples in south India
with those in Cambodia. Dr. Narayanan is past president of the
American Academy of Religion.

(1968) and the most recent is the highly praised The Triniy Guide to the
Bible (2001). He has been a pioneering participant in newly develop
ing areas of research in modern law, social ethics, and Bible. In
addition to articles published in the area of Biblical studies, his sev-
eral contributions to lawjournals have been mainly in the areas of
employment discrimination, public employee free speech, and aca-
demic freedom.
Jane Gale Hiers is the wife of Dr. Hiers and mother of Peter
and Becky. She was honored along with him for her invaluable pres-
ence in the community and her invisible but essential support of his
work. Mrs. Hiers is a respected activist in local social, civic, and
political concerns who has made a noteworthy difference in condi-
tions in day care and criminal justice. At the state level, she served
on Governor Bob Graham's task force on sex offenders and victims.
In addition, she has been an investigator and innovator in comple-
mentary healing modalities.
With characteristic generosity, Jane and Richard Hiers enthusi-
astically joined others attending the retirement party in acknowledg-
ing the achievements of our undergraduate student, Jordan
Kempker, who was presented with the Russell LowellJaberg Award
for academic excellence.

Assistant Professor Mario Poceski has been awarded a Center for
East Asian Studies Fellowship in Chinese Studies at Stanford
University for 2004-05. He will be working on a book that
explores the attitudes toward morality and monasticism within the
Chan school of late medieval Chinese Buddhism.

Professor Bron Taylor's magisterial two-volume work consists of
over I,000 entries from over 500 contributors that together map
the terrain for the study of religion and the natural world. As one
reviewer, remarked, "it is a breathtakingly valuable, truly multi-
cultural reference work, indispensable for libraries, religious
institutions, and environmental organizations." As a moving
force behind the department's Religion and Nature doctoral
track, Dr. Taylor's scholarship is leading the way in this emerging

Fall 2004, Connedions, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of florida page 7

Fall 2004, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

page 7

A few years ago, while on a humanities fellowship, Professor Leah Hochman was invited to
participate in a unique educational and cultural exchange in Germany called Bridge of
S'..,. t.,,.1. .. Now, under Professor Hochman's leadership, University of Florida students
have a similar opportunity to participate in Bridge of U ,.., i.,L....,. a summer study abroad
program. The program, offered for three hours of credit, examines developments in the
relationship betweenJews and non-Jews in contemporary Germany, and involves a three-
week intensive study that begins with a week of intensive classroom discussion in Gainesville
then expands to Germany for a ten-day tour. In Germany students interact with various gov-
ernment and religious hosts, dignitaries, and leaders as they take in significant cultural attrac-
tions, all in order to show the progress as well as the problems in Germany's engagement with
its past.
Bridge of U. I., t.,,,.l., ., co-sponsored and coordinated locally by the Center forJewish
Studies, the Department of Religion, and the Department of History, though it is organized
and initiated under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Federal
Republic of Germany. While other US universities participate in the program as a cultural
travel opportunity, only UF offers Bridge of U'.1 ., t.,,i.1,,,. C course credit. Under Professor
Hochman's direction, the program will be offered for the third time in the summer of 2005.
Coursework involves advance reading, several days of classroom discussion, the tour through
Germany, keeping an intellectual journal and culminates with a research paper. For more
information, email Professor Hochman at or visit

n Thursday eveningJanuary I3th 2005,
Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade
Distinguished Service Professor of the History
of Religions at the University of Chicago, will
deliver a public lecture on campus.
Dr. Doniger's research and teaching
interests revolve around two basic areas,
Hinduism and mythology. Her publications
include: ',, ri,. DEtr r... GenderandMyth in
Ancient Greece and India and, most recently, The
Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was. Professor
Doniger is past president of the American
Academy of Religion and of the Association for
Asian Studies.
Please check our web site or contact the
Department for more details.


Department of Religion
107 Anderson Hall
P. O. Box 117410
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 326II-740I
Telephone: 352-392-1625
Fax: 352-392-7395


University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs