Group Title: Connections : a newsletter for the Department of Religion at the University of Florida
Title: Connections
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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: Spring 2007
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Bibliographic ID: UF00091365
Volume ID: VID00005
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

Spring 2007


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What is the cost of remaining uneducated
about religion? Though polls show that more
than 90 percent of Americans believe in God,
few know anything about religion. According
to a recent study of Religious Literacy by Stephen
Prothero: only half of all Americans can name
just one of the four Gospels; many think that
Sodom and Gomorrah were a married couple;
and evangelical Christians know only a little
more than their non-evangelical counterparts.
This is not just a matter of choosing to ig-
nore an area of knowledge; rather, religious il-
literacy threatens our ability to understand and
participate in our civil society.
Though about two-thirds of Americans
support teaching both evolution and creation-
ism in the public schools, how can we know
what creationism is all about, or intelligently
debate its place in our schools, if less than half
of us can identify the book of Genesis?
Biblical references abound in public con-
versations about stem cell research and gay
marriage, so how can we make informed de-
cisions about these hot button issues without

ly... st ..ated that "sla i.s p ".r rl, il. e at
se time te pp.Re I-v, .iJerry lliriwe, id
1. 1il-.-l, r.. ; i i p r l',_ i ,; i, .t -, h; .1.1,

i i.that the p rophet Muhammad was a "terro p..rist."
,Wo di, d we beie... B e of our igora1,
o reigio, mot iof us had no war 1.. t ju
.And wen i. t icoms to oer gi, tis.rl
1, .k r rl', rl', plHi I .., .. , -. . i- .i.. r
ign oriance can be dead.. ian w, rli anr d. ...
d1 ... r [_ l', .ri nr', 'i,',.. r i,.. ] ,v > rl',.,..
p.-the inr q 'i -q.1 r Bwing s hin. r
ly stated that "Islam is peace, while at the
same time the Reverend Jerry Falwell declared
that the prophet Muhammad was a "terrorist."
Who did we believe? Because of our ignorance
of religion, "most of us had no way to judge."
And when it comes to other religions, this
ignorance can be deadly. Can we understand
the war in Iraq without knowing something
about Islam? Isn't it clear by now that we need
to have some basic understanding of the dif-
ference between Sunnis and Shiites? Religious
understandings lay beneath so many of our
world's political conflicts; how can we afford
to remain in the dark about
basic religious history and
texts? The mo

Here is the point:
whether or not we ourselves
are religious, the more we
learn about religion the less
likely we will be to surren-
der our voices, through our
lack of religious knowledge,
to political leaders who fre-

quently understand their actions in a religious
context. The benefit, at least, is a more engaged
political conversation that begins to recognize
the often unchallenged and powerful influence
of religion in today's world.
Educating students on the significance
of religion in our contemporary global soci-
ety is central to the teaching mission of our
department. Taking a religion course is a step
toward learning about the deeper meanings of
so many of the critical issues that confront all
of us today.

re we learn about religion the

less likely we will be to surrender our
voices, through our lack of religious
knowledge, to political leaders who
frequently understand their actions
in a religious context.

From the Chair ............................................................... 1
Why Did You Major In Religion?................................................... 2
Russell Lowell Jaberg Award & Kujali International....................... 3
Alumni Updates........................... ..... ........................ 3
Graduate Student Updates ........................ ......... ............... 4

Stay in Touch ........................................................... 5
New Faculty............................ ...... ........................ 6
Alumni Lecture Fund................................... ....................... 6
Recent Publications.............................................. 7
Fall Introductory Courses................................ .......... .............. 8

INT~Ius IssuE

Why~~~~~~ Did. Yo Mao'nRlgonekn~p

Why Major in Religion?
Religion majors get this question quite a
bit (and frequently from their parents).
One way of responding is to see religion as
part of the humanities and, like any humani-
ties major, religion students learn to read,
write, communicate and think critically. In
this sense, the aim of a major in religion is
not unlike the aim of a university education
as it always has been and continues to this
day. Students are supposed to gain a range of
skills and become acquainted with the "best
and brightest" of the world's intellectual tra-
ditions so that they can function as autono-
mous and thoughtful adults. The assumption
is that knowledge will continue to change,
not remain the same, and therefore students
so educated will be prepared for such change.
Within this larger purpose, students of reli-
gion have a particular interest in understand-
ing the underlying cultural motivations of
themselves, their society, and the larger world
in which we live.
"But really now," we can hear others
impatiently asking our majors, "What is the
'cash value' of a religion degree? What are you
going to do with this after you L' u, r,"
Last fall we asked graduates on our
alumni listserve to take a few moments to
respond to these questions. Here are some of
their responses.

Becoming a major usually started with an
interesting course or compelling professor.
I was a pre-med major when I first
took Dr. Isenberg's intro class on "The
Religious Experience"...and it changed
the way I thought about a lot of things.
I decided to do something that really
interested me...on a very deep and ut-
terly human level, so I became a religion
-Scott Erker, 1990

This interest often broadened into a larger
search for understanding.
...after taking one religion class at UE.. I
realized that there was no better way to
learn about the people I live with in this

world than to know something about
their religion. It was also the best way
to get a better perspective on my own
beliefs by seeing how others view my re-
ligion. It was just as helpful, if not more,
to learn how to ask the right question as
it was to find the answers.
-Louis Reinstein, 1996

The search for understanding might then
extend to other cultures.
I studied religion to explore how the
rest of the world does things. It helped
me to better understand other cultures.
After all, 90% of what we as humans do
on a daily basis stems from some sort
of religious belief (either learned from
childhood, current belief, etc.). It's a key
into the minds of the other folks on the
-Carolyn Kivler, 2000

Along the way some realized that they were
acquiring important communication and
analytic skills.
I also realized early on that the academic
study of religion would provide an op-
portunity to develop excellent skills in
critical thinking and analysis that would
serve me well in anything I sought to do
in the future.
-Fred Chaiken, 1978

What Have You Done
with Your Religion Major?
Taken together, these skills and interests have
turned out to have a broad application as our
majors have entered into the workplace.
Will Setliff(1993), Vice President of
Innovation and Interactive Marketing for
Target Corporation, sees his religion courses
as vital to his career preparation. As he put
it: "Religion and marketing are not that far
apart." Successful marketing skills are devel-
oped "through understanding and respect-
ing diverse contexts, realities, and systems
of meaning." In this way, an undergraduate
major in religion provided Will with a "tool

set" that has allowed him to flourish in the
field of marketing.
Frank Jones (1984), now a Colonel in
the Air Force stationed in the Pentagon, sees
his religion major as contributing to making
him a "critical thinker and well-rounded
educated person."
Lawyers too see a continuing value in
their religion coursework. "In religion class,"
states Harvey Alper (1968), "I learned a sort
of worshipful tolerance of superficially di-
vergent but often fundamentally convergent
views." "These skills," notes Fred Chaiken,
"have absolutely helped me in the practice of
law in terms of analysis of texts, understand-
ing the backgrounds of diverse individuals
(including prospective jurors) and in provid-
ing background in the development of legal
codes and legal reasoning."
Family Therapist Bhakti Cohen (2000)
believes that her undergraduate religion edu-
cation "helped [her] work more holistically
with...those whose religions differed from
mainstream Judeo/Christian beliefs."
An interest in ethics and other cultures,
led Chris Cudebec (1997) to become a Peace
Corps volunteer in Albania. "I am co-found-
er and chair of the Peace Corps anti-traffick-
ing in persons committee and it has furthered
my interest in social ethics."
Finally, a number of majors have contin-
ued on in religion as teachers, professors, and
ministers. Phil Schwadel (1997), Assistant
Professor of Sociology at the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln, says that he liked his
"sociology of religion and ethics" classes "so
much" that he went on to get a PhD in this
sub-field. In a different vein, Ryan Roberts
(2002), Director of Student Ministries for
Trinity Presbyterian Church in Clearwater,
says that "majoring in religion at UF helped
solidify my faith" and lead him into full-time
ministry. Similarly, James Kahn (2001) a
fourth year rabbinical student reports that
his experiences in the religion department
"pushed me to become the person I am
today. I am deeply grateful."

For more on our alumni and where they
are today, see Alumni Updates, page 3.

page 2 Spring 2007, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

page 2

Spring 2007, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

Since 2001, the Department of Religion has chosen annual recipi-
ents of the Russell Lowell Jaberg Award for Academic Excellence.
Dr. Russell Lowell Jaberg, retired University of Florida humanities
professor, devoted his life to his love of religion and -1, .1..;,. This
memorial award was created in his honor.
Two students shared the award this year, with another two serving
as runners-up. Charlotte Williams is a double major in political sci-
ence and religion. She will be attending the University of North Caro-
lina Law School in the fall. Sam Julien is completing an honors thesis
in patristics and working to create a non-profit student organization
called the Christian Service Network. Both Charlotte and Sam were
awarded membership in Phi Beta Kappa this year. Eric Dorman, one
of two runners-up, will be attending the California Institute of Integral
Studies in the fall. Finally, Sydney-Marie Schaefwill be teaching high
school science in Los Angeles next fall as part of the Teach for America
program while pursuing her Masters in Education.

Bujli nternation al

In addition to working for Teach for America
next year, Jaberg runner-up Sydney-Marie
Schaefwill continue to develop the non-profit
organization she has recently begun. Kujali
International is an inter-faith organization that
seeks to partner with indigenous leaders of
grassroots, faith-based, development-oriented
organizations centered around the holistic care
of orphans and vulnerable children in develop-
ing countries. They plan to do this through
networking, fundraising, resourcing, and consultations.
This initiative began during Sydney's study abroad term in Dar-es-
Salaam, Tanzania, in the fall of 2005. It was then that she got involved
with the Hananasif Orphanage Center, which subsequently inspired
the vision for Kujali. Since then, her organization has raised funds for
all kinds of things: Carolyn Peck, the UF women's basketball coach at
that time, donated funds for the Center's first computer; a few private
donors gave several thousand dollars to buy the Center's first few hun-
dred acres of land so they could begin to cultivate in order to achieve
sustainability. They have also built a school that was just launched last
month with 38 students and 4 staff. During the summer of last year,
Sydney coordinated a trip in which four other UF students and alumni
traveled to Tanzania for a few different projects: photography lessons by
Sarah Lowe, who graduated in 2006 with a dual degree in Political Sci-
ence and Spanish (and is now on a Fulbright in Costa Rica); perform-
ing a needs assessment for the 300 acres of recently purchased land by
Erin Eckhardt, a 2006 graduate student in Agricultural Leadership and
Communication; and recording the original songs of the Hananasif
children's choir by David Lipps, a 2006 alumnus of Political Science
and Philosophy (who is now studying Law and Philosophy at Duke),
and Melissa Reyes, a 2006 History and Piano Performance major. They
have just released the album, Twakushukuru, and made it available for
purchase on their website (
Sydney is touching a lot of lives.

Alum]ii 6] Updates

Harvey Alper is a lawyer in Al-
tamonte Springs, Florida.
Theresa Horton received an MA.
in religion from the University of
Indiana and went on to law school.
She now practices law in Greenville,
South Carolina. Along the way she
has taught religion classes at a com-
munity college and has an abiding
interest in Aramaic and Middle
Eastern religions.
Fred Chaiken is a trial lawyer in
Atlanta, and has recently become a
member of the department's advi-
sory board.
Bruce Turner is a minister in the
United Church of Christ, dividing
his ministry between church and
hospice work. In 2003 he received a
Doctor of Ministry from San Fran-
cisco Theological Seminary.
Frank Jones. Now a colonel in the
Air Force, Frank recently returned
to the States after two years in Japan.
He is now Chief of Air Force Proto-
col at the Pentagon.
Joe Kight has taught religion classes
in Catholic high schools, served as
the Director of Religious Education
at the Tulane University Catholic
Center, earned an M.A. degree in
American History at the University
of New Orleans, and now works as
an artist in Virginia.
Brain Merry is one of about fifty
Directors of Religious Education
working for the Department of
the Army. Stationed now at Fort
Sam Houston, Texas, Brian is a
resource for faith groups and advises
chaplains on matters of religious
education practices.
Scott Erker followed his religion
undergraduate degree with an MA.
in the department and then went
on to study in the UF anthropology
department where he is working on
his dissertation.

Peter J. Stoehr is an oncology nurse
at the University of Virginia Medical
Center. He and Kathleen are expect-
ing their third child.
Will Setliff matriculated to UCLA
in Islamic Studies and then entered
the advertising industry. He is
now in Minneapolis working as
Vice President of Innovation and
Interactive Marketing for Target
Corporation. Will has recently be-
come a member of the department's
advisory board.
Louis Reinstein taught Hebrew
Bible and comparative religion in
secondary schools before going on to
law school.
Chris Cudebec. Following his ser-
vice in Albania for the Peace Corps,
Chris plans to go to law school and
eventually work within the area of
social ethics.
Philip Schwadel received his
PhD from the University of North
Carolina and is now a professor
of the sociology of religion at the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Carolyn Kivler teaches in a Jackson-
ville, Florida inner-city school.
Siva Radhakrishnan has entered
post-graduate studies after graduat-
ing from the University of Florida
medical school.
James Kahn is attending the
Hebrew College Rabbinical School
in Boston.
Ingrid (Bunde) Mattson is a law
clerk in a superior court in Washing-
ton State.
Ryan Roberts is Director of Student
Ministries at Trinity Presbyterian
Church in Clearwater, Florida.
Mark Kurtzman is applying to
medical school.

Sprig 207,Conectons A ewsette oftheDeprtmnt f Rligon a th Unverityof lor dap geI

Spring 2007, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

page 3

Just four years ago, the department inaugurated its unique doctoral program with specializa-
tions in three distinct areas: Religion in the Americas, Religions of Asia, and Religion and
Nature. There are now 29 students in the program with the leading cohort now writing their
dissertations. Nearly all of our third and fourth year doctoral students have published articles,
presented their work at regional or national professional meetings, and some have earned pres-
tigious national awards. One, Shreena Gandhi, has accepted an elite job offer. This fall Ms.
Gandhi will join the faculty of the Religion Department at Kalamazoo College. Here is a list of
our current third and fourth year doctoral students, their interests and accomplishments.

Shreena N. Gandhi
(from 2003). Ms. Gandhi
received her B.A. in Re-
ligion from Swarthmore
College and her Masters of
Theological Studies from
Harvard Divinity School.
She has started work on
her dissertation "Translating and Commodi-
fying Yoga: From Transcendentalist Musings
to Religious Market Staple." This study
combines her research interests in religions of
the Americas, Hinduism in the diaspora, the
study of material religion, and the relation-
ship between capitalism and religion. She
has taught Religion in Latin America and
American Religious History for the depart-
ment. Ms. Gandhi has presented papers
nationally at the annual meetings of the
American Academy of Religion and the Latin
American Studies Association. Her paper
from a Chicago conference on the Study of
Religions of India, "Satisfying Ganesh? Milk,
Murtis and a Phenomenology of Devotion,"
will be published in a forthcoming inrli. .1..',,
Hosting the Immanent Divine: Material Reli-
gion in South Asian Traditions, from SUNY
Press. She has also published book reviews
in Material Religion-The Journal of Objects,
Art and Belief, Sociology ofReligion, and The
International Journal of Hindu Studies. In the
fall of 2007, Miss Gandhi will join the faculty
of the Religion Department at Kalamazoo
Gayle Ann Spiers Lasater (from 2003).
Ms. Lasater received a B.A. in Anthropology
with a minor in International Relations at
the University of West Florida and an M.A.
in Latin American and Caribbean Studies
with an emphasis in Sociology from Florida

International University. Her academic
interests include religion and politics in the
Americas, western monotheism in the Atlan-
tic New World, the interaction of Christian
missions in the Americas, and religion and
the environment. Ms. Lasater is now writing
her dissertation, "Building the Kingdom:
Mormon Missionaries and the Americas."
She has been a researcher with the Ford
Foundation's immigrant religion project,
"Latino Immigrants in Florida: Lived Reli-
gion, Space, and Power," working with prin-
ciple investigator and religion department
professor Manuel Vasquez. Ms. Lasater has
published one article and has three entries
in the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilizations.
She presented a paper at the 2006 Latin
American Studies Association Meetings and
is presenting at the 2007 American Academy
of Religion Meetings in San Diego. She has
taught Religion in Latin America and Ameri-
can Religious History for the department,
will be teaching Comparative Religions at
the University of North Florida this summer,
and next year will be teaching in the UF
Writing Program.
Hilit Surowitz (from 2004). Ms.
Surowitz received an undergraduate degree
from the University of Florida with a dual
major in Religion and Political Science. This
was followed with a Fulbright Fellowship
to study the religious and social integration
of Israel's Ethiopian Jewish community.
She subsequently earned a master's degree
from the Department of Religion at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem and taught
primary and secondary school in both Israel
and South Florida. Ms. Surowitz's research
interests include Caribbean religion, the
Jewish communities of the Caribbean, and
diaspora studies. She is particularly interested
in the trans-Atlantic social and religious

networks established and maintained by
European, North African, and Caribbean
Jewish communities and their role in defin-
ing community identity. Ms Surowitz has
presented papers nationally at the meetings
of the American Academy of Religion and
the Latin American Studies Association. She
is the recipient of a FLAS Fellowship for
Latin American Studies, a Gerson Jewish
Studies Fellowship from the University of
Florida, and a short-term grant for research
in Atlantic history from Harvard Univer-
sity. Her article on "The Symbolic Power of
Blood-Letting: Picart's La Circoncision des
Juifi Portugais" is forthcoming. This next year
she will be the Morris and Alma Schapiro
Fellow at New York City's Center for Jewish
History where she will be researching her
dissertation, "La Nacion: Reconstructing
Jewish Identity in the Early Modern Atlantic

Michael J. Gressett (from 2003). Mr.
Gressett graduated from the University of
California at Berkeley in Religious Stud-
ies and took his master's degree from the
University of Florida in South Asian religious
traditions with an emphasis in Hinduism.
His research interests include Hindu tradi-
tions in America and new religious move-
ments in America. He has taught Sanskrit,
Religions of India, and Religion in Asia for
the department. Mr. Gressett has written a
book review for the Journal of Asian Studies
and presented his work at two regional meet-
ings of the Association for Asian Studies. He
also serves as a consultant for religionlink.
org. He is now writing his dissertation, "The
Cultic Growth of a North Florida Religious

page4 Spring 2007, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

page 4

Spring 2007, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

Samuel Snyder (from 2003). Mr.
Snyder received an undergraduate degree in
philosophy and religious studies from Buck-
nell University, and a master's degree from
Syracuse University with a dual focus on
philosophy of religion and religion and na-
ture. He is the current department Graduate
Student Representative, and acting American
Academy of Religion Student Liaison for the
department. His scholarly interests include
the study of nature recreation as "lived
religious practice" focusing on the role these
activities play in environmental conservation.
He is also interested in grassroots environ-
mental action, food and sustainability, and
understanding the relationships between
environmental values and practice. Mr.
Snyder has taught Introduction to Religion
and Religion, Ethics, and Nature for the
department. He has presented papers at two
national meetings of the American Academy
of Religion. Mr. Snyder is a contributor to
the Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature and
is currently writing his dissertation, tenta-
tively titled "Casting for Conservation: An
Investigation of Beliefs, Attitudes, and Ac-
tions toward Nature in Fly Fishing Culture."
Gavin Van Horn (2003). Mr. Van
Horn received his undergraduate degree in
religion from Pepperdine University and a
Master of Divinity from Princeton Theologi-
cal Seminary. His primary areas of interest
include: animals in religious traditions and
myths; contested (sacred) spaces; and envi-
ronmental history. He has taught Introduc-

tion to Religion and will teach Religion and
Nature in North America in the fall for the
department. Mr. Van Horn's dissertation
research is directed toward understanding
the religious, cultural, and ethical values in-
volved in the reintroduction of wolves to the
southwestern United States, "Howling about
the Land: The Transformation of Wolves
from Wild Beasts to Wilderness Icons in the
United States." He is a contributor to the
Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature and the
Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Relationships.
His other publications include a survey of
Hindu traditions and nature in the journal
Worldviews, an analysis of the pop culture
phenomenon the Flying Spaghetti Monster
(co-written with Lucas Johnston) in Golem:
Journal of Religion and Monsters, and a chap-
ter (co-written with Bron Taylor) discussing
nature religion and environmentalism in
North America in the edited volume Faith in
America. Mr. Van Horn served as an assistant
editor for the groundbreaking Encyclopedia
ofReligion andNature and currently serves
as the assistant editor of the Journalfor the
Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture. He
has presented papers nationally and interna-
tionally, and will be presenting at the 2007
American Academy of Religion national
Lucas Johnston (from 2004). Mr.
Johnston holds an undergraduate degree in
psychology from Wake Forest University,
where his senior thesis focused on how
counter-ontological concepts contribute to
memory functions. His M.A. from the Grad-
uate Theological Union (Berkeley) focused
on environmental ethics and philosophy of

science. Most recently, Mr. Johnston com-
pleted the Graduate Environmental Ethics
Program at the University of Georgia, focus-
ing on environmental dispute resolution.
He was an invited participant to the Ethics
and Sustainability Dialog Group, a think
tank comprised of chemical industry leaders
and ethicists. Mr. Johnston's dissertation
project is a cultural history of the concept
of sustainability, and analyzes the evolution
of values related to sustainability discourse.
Publications include contributions to the
Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Relationships,
the Encyclopedia ofEnvironment and Society,
and the journals Worldviews, Ecotheology,
Golem: Journal ofReligion and Monsters, and
Theology and Science News. Mr. Johnston
has presented his work to national and re-
gional meetings of the American Academy of
Religion, the American Anthropological As-
sociation, the Conference on Communica-
tion and the Environment, the international
conference organized by the ISSRNC, and
the University of Florida Honors College's
courses in Sustainability. He has taught a
course on Religion, Nature, and Ethics for
the department. Mr. Johnston is currently
the Associate Director of the International
Society for the Study of Religion, Nature
and Culture (ISSRNC), and Book Reviews
Coordinator for the Journal for the Study of
Religion, Nature and Culture. The title of
his dissertation is "The Concept of Sustain-
ablilty: A Cultural History of a Religious

T he next 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 e-mails 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 we sent in July are already on this list. For others who wish to subscribe,
either send an e-mail to or subscribe yourself directly by sending an e-mail to
In the body of your message, type: subscribe end. We hope you will join us in conversation online!

Spring 2007, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

page 5

CNew F'aculty

W are delighted to announce that
VV Roman Loimeier will be joining
our faculty next year as a joint appoint-
ment with the Center for African Studies.
Dr. Loimeier is a well-established scholar
in the field of Islam in Sub-S ai ii n a.
Currently a Research Fellow a ir, i n.
Centre of Modem Oriental Studies, Dr.
Loimeier brings to UF an impressive
breadth and depth of knowledge of Islam
in general with particular focus on the
African context. His expertise within Africa, ranging from the Swahili
coast to northern Nigeria, Senegal to Sudan, and beyond, is matched
by very few, if any, other scholars. His mastery of Arabic and several
African languages is also impressive, and his long list of publications
on Islam in Africa clearly shows that he is an influential and outstand-
ing scholar in this field. Given his extensive international connections
in Europe, Africa, and the US, Dr. Loimeier will bring immediate
visibility to UF in our efforts to develop interdisciplinary study in this
important field.

It also gives us great pleasure to
announce that Travis Smith will be
joining our faculty in the fall. Dr. Smith,
a scholar of Hinduism and Sanskrit,
received his doctorate this year from
Columbia University. He has received fel-
lowships from the Ford Foundation and
Fulbright-Hays, among others. His dis-
sertation is a critical reading and analysis
of medieval Sanskrit texts that glorify the
sacred city of Benares. While dramatically
expanding our Hinduism and Sanskrit course offerings, Dr. Smith
will also be a contributor to the continuing growth and evolution of
the Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions (CHiTra) founded just
two years ago by Dr. Vasudha Narayanan.

I ] 1 1lm n Lectur Fun ICU 16

The Department of Religion hopes to provide students with academic experi-
ences that will offer perspectives on religion's role in our everyday lives. We
hope that 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 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 support the
department's critical educational activities for those following in your foot-
steps. Please complete the form and return to the address below. Thanks for
your support!
DavidHackett, Chair

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page 6 Spring 2007, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

page 6

Spring 2007, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

ID(C? ~ir C416]Y

Ordinary Mind as the Way: The Hongzhou School and the
Growth ofChan Buddhism, Oxford, 2007
This spring Assistant Professor Mario Poceski published a study that, according to one reviewer,
promises to be a "bombshell that will reverberate throughout the world of Chan and Zen
studies." In this fresh analysis of the history and doctrines of the Hongzhou School of Chan
(Zen) Buddhism in late medieval China, Poceski challenges the traditional and popularly ac-
cepted view of the Hongzhou School as a revolutionary movement that rejected mainstream
mores and teachings, charting a new path for Chan's independent growth as a unique Buddhist
tradition. This view, he argues, rests on a misreading of key elements of the Hongzhou School's
history. Rather than acting as an unorthodox movement, the Hongzhou School's success was
actually based largely on its ability to mediate tensions between traditionalist and iconoclastic
tendencies. Going beyond conventional romanticized interpretations that highlight the radi-
cal character of the Hongzhou School, Poceski shows that there was much greater continuity
between early and classical Chan-and between the Hongzhou School and the rest ofTang Bud-
dhism-than previously thought.

Journalfor the Study ofReligion, Nature and Culture
This spring marks the inauguration of the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Cul-
ture edited by Bron Taylor.

Volume 1, March 2007, Contents
Exploring Religion, Nature and Culture-Introducing the Journal for the Study of Religion,
Nature and Culture, Bron Taylor.................................... ............. ... pp. 5-24

Keynote Presentation:
Connecting with Creation: The Convergence of Nature, Religion, Science and Culture, Ste-
phen R. Kellert........................ ... .............................................................. pp. 25-37

Forum on Religion, Nature and Culture
Finding Data: Some Reflections on Ontologies and Normativities, Kocku von Stuckrad......pp.

Religion, Nature and Culture: Theorizing the Field, Adrian Ivakhiv............................ pp. 47-57

Opportunity, Challenge and a Definition of Religion, Stewart Elliott Guthrie ...........pp. 58-67

Reflections on Animal Emotions and Beastly Virtues: Appreciating, T
Honoring and Respecting the Public Passions of Animals, Marc Bekoff....................pp. 68-80 av

Religious Environmentalism: What it is, Where it's Heading and Why
We Should be Going in the Same Direction, Roger S. Gottlieb..................................pp. 81-91 O
Indigenous Moral Philosophies and Ontologies and their Implications
for Sustainable Development, Robin M. Wright ..................................................pp. 92-108

Re-Uniting with the Kosmos, Penelope S. Bernard .............................................pp. 109-128

What if Religions had Ecologies? The Case for Reinhabiting Religious
Studies, Sarah McFarland Taylor .........................................................pp. 129-138
Spring 2007, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

Joirnd d/tt

Study Of 0i j. nNatt0e
and0 1c re

his table of contents, followed by abstracts, is
ailable at:

their information about the JSRNC can be
und at

page 7

Fa111 Int(6]cor Cour(P\()1 ses

REL 2210 Hebrew Scriptures
Robert Kawashima
The history, literature and beliefs of the
Israelites from the Biblical text in the light of
modem scholarship. (H)

REL 2240 New Testament
TR6; W 4, 5, or7
TR7; F4, 5, or7
Leo Sandgren
An introduction to the various literary, social
and religious contexts of the books of the New
Testament. (H)

REL 2317 Religions in Asia
TR7; F 3, 5, or6
Travis Smith
A study of the religious dimensions of human
culture, focusing on Asia (Hinduism, Bud-
dhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto). (H, N)

REL 2341 Intro to Buddhism
Mario Poceski
An introduction to the doctrines, practices,
and institutions that shaped the essential
identity of Buddhism as a pan-Asian religion
that transcended ethic, cultural, and linguistic
boundaries. (H)

REL 2362 Intro to Islam
MW6;F 3,4, or6
Zoharah Simmons
A historical introduction to Islamic tradition.
The course explores the tradition based on the
life of Prophet Muhammad, the text of the
Qur'an, and subsequent Islamic expressions.

REL 2600 Intro to Judaism
Leah Hochman
A multidisciplinary approach to the Jewish
experience from its Biblical origins to modern
times. (H, N)

REL 2930 Native American Religions
TR3;F 3,5, or6
Robin Wright
Examines the religious worlds of South, cen-
tral, and North American native peoples, past
and contemporary. (H)

REL 2930 Intro to Hindu Culture
T 7; R 7-8
Vasudha Narayanan
Designed to introduce students to the diverse
cultures connected with the Hindu traditions.
Discusses philosophy, literature, music and
dance, art and architecture, gender issues, social
structures, food traditions, and also India's vast
popular cultures including Bollywood movies.
The readings and lectures will help students
be conversant culturally with what can well
become one of the largest emerging markets in
the next few years.(H, N)

SRK 1120 Beginning Sanskrit I
TR 11-E1
Michael Gressett
This is the first semester of a two-semester
course that introduces the Sanskrit language
through the Devanagari Script emphasizing
reading, writing, grammar and oral recitation.


Department of Religion
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
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P.O. Box 117410
Gainesville, FL 32611-7410
Telephone: 352-392-1625
Fax: 352-392-7395



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