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
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Language: English
Creator: Department of Religion, University of Florida
Publisher: Department of Religion, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: Spring 2005
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Volume ID: VID00007
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A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

'Do. d Ho c I.t it

r ri

Anna Peterson and Manuel Vasquez have
extended our reach to Latin America,
Richard Foltz and Zoharah Simmons have
brought Islam to the table, Mario Poceski
and Jason Neelis are bringing us

Hochman are extending the study of
Judaism to the modern era, Rabbinic liter-
ature, and gender studies, Bron Taylor is
bringing us Christian Ethics and Religion and
Nature, and just this year we hired internal
tionally known indigenous religions scholar
Robin Wright, African diaspora in the
Americas specialistJalane Schmidt, and Greg
Goering in Hebrew Bible (seepage 6). Taken

The En.;;,.:lnpedch nt
Regliion wnd Nature ...... ............. 2
Shlde-s n Grr-nii The Doctnrul
Prugrdii in Religion and Nature..... ....2

Edi..s dnd Sustainiabilirs Dialog Cruip ... 4

FOREST Thei Floilidd Organiittiun
,.)nI R,-gliun. En innin -ntil S.i en.-e.
Wnd Technokloy .......... ............ .4

Dep:atment HHosts Vsiituin Lect uL-r ....... 5

Spring 2005

II, ,,.I .. ,, 1" .. -r I ,
r r;::;
I .I .; I 1. .l ..I .1 r. .; [ ^*. |. rl . t ; [ ,.l '- ii~ li .' ':

i r, r I., ,, I. .1 r I r ,

be specializations at the cutting edge of the
religious studies discipline. The Religion
and Nature program draws broadly on fac-

ulty both within the
department and the
intersection of reli-

society that i-s without t in. promise, i ne .

precedent anywhere.

be speializations at the cutting edge of the
Religious studies discipline. The Religids upon the
and Nature program department faculty and thefac
ulty both within the
department and the
university to create a
field of study at the excitingyoungscho
intersection of reli-
gion, nature, and revitalizing the dep
society that is without it inpromising neu
precedent anywhere
else in the world.
Religion in the Americas builds upon the
strengths of department faculty and the




Center for Latin American Studies, one of

Rici:hrd Fohli
Ninr-dl Neiknk Te inr Polr fssor. ...........

Nev. F:a.:u It .......... .. .............

Alurinin Fred C:h.h,ken
Reteii-es C:L-S Aw.ard ..... ..... ..... b

Alumni Update ... ....... ...... 1
Dortnrl. Studrint Pr file..... ..........

Tw.o \\',s lto St.v In T"u. h..... ...........
Alumni Leii.tuie Fund ........... ....8

the largest and best-regarded programs in
the country, to envision the first-ever doc-
toral program that
looks at the broad
generation of diversity of religious

s havejoined us, cultures in the
Americas from an
tment and taking hemispheric perspec-
rections tive. Religions of Asia,
in turn, draws upon
faculty from our
department and the Asian Studies program
to provide students with a broad under-
standing of the dynamic interactions
among Asian Muslims, Buddhists, and
Hindus. This track also connects with
Religion in the Americas in considering
the ways in which Asian traditions have
been imported to the West, and with
Religion and Nature in providing oppor-
tunities to examine nature-human rela-
tionships in Asian cultures and religions.
Since the fall of 2003, we have admitted
two classes of doctoral students to each of
these tracks, with a third class now on its
way. In this and the two subsequent issues
of Connections, we will be highlighting each
of these three doctoral tracks, beginning
with Religion and Nature.

The Encyclopedia of

Religion and Nature

A after more than seven years of intense collaborative
.work, the Enyclopedia of i. I ..I 1 Nature (fondly
known to insiders as the ERN) will be published this
Orchestrated by Editor-in-Chief Bron Taylor and
written by 520 contributors from around the world,
the ERN is the first reference work focusing exclusively
on the relationships among human beings, their
diverse religions, and the earth's living systems. Among
the contributors were eight UF religion professors and
two of our doctoral graduate students. Listing their
names and at least one of their entry contributions
begins to show the diversity in the work: Manuel
Vasquez (Brazilian Umbanda); Anna Peterson (Social
Construction of Nature and Environmental Ethics);
Vasudha Narayanan (Hinduism); Gene Thursby and
Sheldon Isenberg (Perennial Philosophy); Richard
Foltz (Islam); Mario Poceski (Vegetarianism and
Buddhism); Bron Taylor (Surfing); and the graduate
students, Gavin Van Horn (Sierra Club); and Sam
Snyder (Fly Fishing). Graduate students Van Horn,
LukeJohnsson, and Bridgette O'Brien were involved
in various aspects of the production, so the ERN
became a departmental family affair.
Among the other contributors to the two-volume
encyclopedia are some of the world's foremost anthro-
pologists, evolutionary biologists, environmental scien-
tists, ethologists, geographers, geologists, historians,
literature scholars, philosophers, political scientists,
psychologists, environmental activists and sociologists,
as well as religious thinkers and practitioners from
around the world. This diversity makes it one of the few
encyclopedias that can accurately claim to be compre-
hensively interdisciplinary. The list of luminary con-
tributors further illustrates this point, with names like
Jane Goodall, James Lovelock, Vine DeloriaJr., Arne
Naess, David Chidester, John CobbJr., Baird
Callicott, Thomas Berry, Steven Kellert, Bill
McKibben, and Captain Paul Watson appearing in its
Readers who would like to learn more about this
emerging field and the scholarly conundrums it poses
could start with Bron Taylor's introduction to the
ERN and the sample entries "Environmental Ethics"
and "Religion Studies and Environmental Concern"
which are available at
Taken as a whole, the Enyclopedia of. li, I .I1 Nature
reflects the diversity of the growing field of religion and
nature, one that the department of religion seeks to
embrace through its research and graduate program.

by David Hackett and Todd Best

In 2003 the doctoral program in Religion and Nature welcomed a
talented class of graduate students seeking to understand the com-
plex relationships among human beings, their religions, and the nat-
ural environment. As the first graduate program anywhere to offer
degrees in Religion and Nature, the program instantly gained recog-
nition as an innovator. Its emergence built on several decades of
intense scholarly ferment at the intersection of religion, nature, and

An Emerging Field of Study
T while a small circle of scholars had written about such relation-
V ships before the late I960s, an article published in 1967 in the
widely read journal Science by medieval historian Lynn White Jr. stim-
ulated a debate that continues to this day. In "The Historical Roots of
the Ecological Crisis," White, himself a Christian, argues that several
"lived" tenets of Christianity have propelled unfettered technological
progress that, in turn, has precipitated the deterioration of our envi-
Some considered White's essay to be an attack on Christianity.
White argued, however, that since the problem is primarily a religious
one, the solution must also be a religious one. He concluded by sug-
gesting that St. Francis of Assisi could be taken as a "patron saint" for
the environmental movement, serving as a model for "green"
The field eventually developed on three main fronts: philoso-
phers Max Oelschlager and Baird Callicott sought to uncover reli-
gious grounds for environmental ethics; scholars within the
American Academy of Religion, meeting as the "Religion and
Ecology Group" contributed to the ten volume series 5. lI, i l',.
I /.l.,,,.I I -P published by Harvard University Press; while a variety
of social scientists examined the role religion has played in fostering
environmental damage and can play in protecting natural systems.
The origins of the Religion and Nature program here at the
University of Florida can be traced to the influence of Richard
Foltz. Richard discovered in the final year of his graduate study at
Harvard the existence of an academic discourse on environmental
values. He subsequently began research into the environmental val-
ues of Islam, co-edited the Harvard volume on Islam and Ecology and,
when he joined our faculty in 2000, suggested that our then incu-
bating PhD program have a track focusing on religion and the
environment. Anna Peterson was at that time writing F ,,. HFi.,,,
her important book on religious ethics and the environment. In
2002, she chaired the search that brought Bron Taylor, editor in
chief of the forthcoming Enyclopedia of-i. I ..1 Nature, to our
department. Foltz, Peterson, and Taylor then became the core fac-
ulty for this first doctoral program in Religion and Nature any-
where in this country.

Spring 2005, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

page 2

The Religion and
Nature Program
r h e Religion and Nature program seeks
move forward this area of scholarly
inquiry by building on the already existing
body of research and providing for greater
interdisciplinary collaboration. The pro-
gram is founded on the premise that religion
helps shape environmental attitudes and
practices in virtually every culture.
Understanding the complex, reciprocal rela-
tionships among human cultures, religions,
and the earth's living systems is vital to
addressing contemporary environmental
Students enter into this conversation
through a series of seminars including
Religion and Nature, Religion and
Environmental Ethics, Religion and Nature
in the Western World, and Religion and
Nature in Asia. Though the program's ethi-
cal component is its greatest strength, stu-
dents draw on faculty and resources from
across the university, including internation-
ally recognized programs in Interdisciplinary
Ecology and Tropical Conservation and
Development as well as strengths in ecologi-
cal anthropology, environmental education,
and related
fields. As
points out,
there is
plenty of
Room for
interests at
S. the
and within
the Department. In the future, as the pro-
gram expands, she is hopeful that the faculty
will have even more sub-fields represented.
But even now, the program has graduate stu-
dents working from the angles of nature reli-
gion, ecological restoration, sustainable
development, corporate environmental
responsibility, religion and animals, grass-
roots environmentalism and more.

Faculty Expertise
Propels the Program
h e Department of Religion boasts three
Widely recognized scholars in this
emerging field.
An expert on Islam, Richard Foltz is the
co-editor of Islam andEcology, the first scholarly
volume on the subject. His initial investigation
of environmental values in Islam eventually
led to the development of a course on how
nature was viewed in all the world's religions.
After struggling for several years to come up
with teaching materials for this course, he cre-
ated what is now the most widely used teaching
anthology, titled I ,.I ... hImn, andthe
Environment. Richard's most recent interest in
animal rights has led to his writing Animals in
Islamic Tradition and Muslim Cultures. Here he argues
that Muslims often neglect the textual sources
of Islam which argue that Creation belongs to
God, not to humans, and that other species
have value in their own right apart from their
usefulness to human beings.
Anna Peterson is a social ethicist who
has published widely on social and environ-
mental ethics. Ii FP. ,,. Hn.. Ethics,
Environment, and Our Place in the World, she argues
that the Western religious traditions have
overplayed the uniqueness of human nature
to the denial of the influence of non-human
nature on who we are as human beings in
society. In her forthcoming Seedsofthe ~,.i i ,
Utopian Communities in theAmericas, she "explores
the utopian religious ethics practiced in
Amish settlements in the United States
Midwest and in former war zones in El
Salvador." These communities, says
Peterson, serve as alternatives to dominant
systems, and "in the face of significant inter-
nal and external challenges, both groups
have created relatively self-sufficient, ecolog-
ically sustainable, and equitable communi-
ties." Together they offer models to those
who are looking into issues of sustainability,
ecological concerns, and how to bring
together "the practical embodiment of
social, ecological, and religious values."
Anna is now working on two major projects.
With Les Thiele of Political Science, she is
coordinator of a diverse group of faculty
developing collaborative research initiatives
around the theme of sustainable communi-
ties in the Americas. She is also beginning a
new book, tentatively titled Already/Not Yet:
Immanent Utopias and Eveyday Ethics.

Taylor holds
the depart

Samuel S.
Chair in
Since 1990,
he has focused on religion and nature stud-
ies, including a specialization in the religious
and ethical dimensions of grassroots envi-
ronmentalism. As editor of Ec I .;.,1 P. ; i.,,..
Movements: The Global Emergence ofRadical and
PopularEnvironmentalism, he demonstrated that
in the global context radical environmental-
ism often involves campaigns to protect or
restore areas traditionally held in common
by communities. The work showed that reli-
gions sometimes vilified for promoting envi-
ronmentally destructive attitudes and behav-
iors can be re-envisioned in ways that resist
environmental deterioration. This spring,
his Encyclopedia ofi Ii i..I1 nature will be pub-
lished, significantly broadening the discus-
sion over human-nature-religion relation-
ships. Bron is now turning his attention to
two books. On Sacred Ground: Radical
Environmentalism from Earth First! to the Earth
Liberation Front analyzes these movements both
ethnographically and ethically. Dark Green
Religion addresses the global "greening of reli-
gion" and
its growing
role in
global envi-
addition to
these three
three more
are working
in this area. Vasudha Narayanan has pub-
lished several articles and chapters on Hindu
environmental values, Mario Poceski has also
published on Buddhism and nature, and
Gwynn Kessler has offered an undergraduate
course onJudaism, ecology, and nature.

Spring 2005, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida page 3

Spring 2005, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

page 3

by Lucas Johnston

(Editor's note: LucasJohnston is a doctoral student in the
,.1, I,.,.,.1 i.,r,,. I ., ram. In December, he accompa-
niedProfessor Bron Taylor to -., Il, ,i D.C., where
thy participated in the Ethics and Sustainabilit Dialog
Group ofthe Chlorine Chemistry Council.)

Since the Bhopal disaster twenty years ago,
the chlorine chemistry industry has been
fighting rearguard public image battles
against environmentalists while attempting to
make genuine progress in both sustainability
and public relations. Sustainable develop-
ment means policies and practices that meet
the needs of the pres-
ent without compro-
mising the ability of The dialog itse ,
future generations to the American lane
meet their own needs.
Six years ago, mem- sign that environn
bers of the Chlorine
Chemistry Council be moving beyond
(CCC) began a series m acting the co
of dialogs with impacing he cor
group of ethicists
called together by the theologian James
Nash. Bron Taylor was among those sum-
moned to the cause. Known as the "Ethics
and Sustainability Group," this gathering of
ethicists and industry executives has sought a
common ground where corporate interests
and religiously informed ethics might grow
The negative environmental impacts of
chlorine chemistry are well known. Chlorine

gas is so toxic that it was used as a lethal
weapon in World War I. It causes evacuation
of surrounding communities and severe res-
piratory distress, damage, and death to those
exposed when trucks and trains transporting
it are damaged. Dioxin, a toxic by-product
of chlorine production, was brought
poignantly to the public eye by Rachel
Carson's classic ,...i k r ,',.j., to which
some trace the beginning of the modern
environmental movement.
Less well known is the chlorine indus-
try's contribution to global health. Aside

uhich is unique on

escape, is a hopeful

mental ethics may

Sthe academy and

orate world.

from its integral role in
many of the disposable
medical treatments
important in providing
aid to developing
countries, the industry
highlights its role as the
largest global provider
of clean drinking
water, reducing the
incidence of diarrhea

in countries like Bangladesh and Guatemala
by over 24%. What's more, through the use
of durable and long-lasting PVC pipes (a
chlorine chemistry product) for water and
sewage, the industry claims to have reduced
dioxin emissions to levels roughly equivalent
to natural releases from forest fires.
The "Ethics and Sustainability Dialog
Group" critically examines such positive
arguments in the light of both ethical theory

and the growing body of scientific literature
on the dangers of chlorine chemistry. The
hope is to enhance the industry's under-
standing of the challenges it faces, and to
help it develop genuinely sustainable corpo-
rate practices. This effort is complicated on
both sides by the differing "native languages"
spoken by ethicists and industry executives,
and their sometimes widely divergent
assumptions of both fact and value.
Past dialogs have had many foci,
including expanding the meaning of "sus-
tainability" to include the mandate that there
shall be no reduction in biological diversity
(which includes ecosystem variety, as well as
the genetic variety within species and the
diversity of species themselves), and on how
to implement this precautionary principle.
Future dialogs will focus on how (or
whether) an ecocentric land ethic which val-
ues all systems and species might provide a
point of departure for an industry that until
now has been driven by the profit motive.
The global pervasiveness of the chlo-
rine chemistry industry makes environmen-
tally significant even small positive changes in
practice. Bron Taylor and other ethicists in
the dialog continue to promote an alterna-
tive, more biocentric set of lenses for this
industry to adopt. Still, the dialog itself,
which is unique on the American landscape,
is a hopeful sign that environmental ethics
may be moving beyond the academy and
impacting the corporate world.

F-T Teli Og itnneio Evo eaSn. an .e.hnology I

r is spring faculty and graduate students
Sin the Religion and Nature program
received seed money from the Metanexus
Foundation to create a first of its kind
organization dedicated to advancing
research and debate at the intersection of
religion, science, and society. The Florida
Organization on Religion, Environmental
Science, and Technology (FOREST),
intends to support research projects, spon-
sor forums and lectureships, and establish
an ongoing summer educational institute
for secondary school teachers.
PhD student Samuel Snyder is the
administrator of the organization under the

direction of Bron Taylor, with prominent
faculty from across the university serving as
advisers. In the first year of this plan the
organizers intend to: develop a website,
newsletter, and database; inaugurate a
"lunch and lecture series" among UF faculty
and students; explore working with local
schools to provide educational seminars;
and complete an application for a National
Endowment for Humanities Summer
Institute for 2006. The second year will
bring: an expansion of the lecture series to
include speakers from outside UF; and the
development of curriculum resources and a
Summer Institute for secondary school

teachers. In the third year, FOREST will:
host a major conference bringing together
various voices in the religion, science,
nature, and cultures discussion from
around the country; liaison with a larger
national network of like-minded groups;
and establish workshop teams able to bring
engaged religion and science discussion to
venues throughout the region.
The program promises to provide our
graduate students with the resources, setting,
and interdisciplinary community necessary
to develop as the next generation of scholars
working at the intersection of religion, sci-
ence, and society.

page 4 Spring 2005, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of florida

Spring 2005, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

page 4

by Todd Best

r e department has been privileged to
host several visiting scholars in recent

Thierry Zephir
On December I, 2004, the France-Florida
Research Institute and the Department of
Religion welcomed Thierry Zephir, curator
of the Musee Guimet in Paris. Zephir teach-
es at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris on the art
and techniques of Khmer bronzes. He is
also a pre-eminent scholar on Cambodian
art. Zephir's published books include
D ... i, .... iA, .i )r: A Tour ofthe Temples.
Zephir also curated the exhibition Sculpture of
AngkorandAncient C.ant. I,., .\.,. i .n, t ..- ,
which toured Paris, Tokyo, and Osaka, and
premiered at the National Gallery of Art in
1997. His talk, "From India to Cambodia:
Adoption and Adaptation. An Introduction
to the Iconography of Khmer Bas-Reliefs,"
was given at the Harn Museum of Art.

Bernie Zaleha
On December 8, 2004, Sierra Club Vice
President Bernie Zaleha addressed a gather-
ing of university and community members
in his talk, "Environmentalism and People
of Faith." Zaleha, an environmental lawyer
who focuses on forest protection, spoke
about his upbringing in Christian funda-
mentalism, his departure for environmen-
talism rooted in science, and then his return
to a form of Christianity that better accom-
modates environmental concern. As Zaleha
explained, the more involved he became
with the environmental movement, the
more he concluded that environmental
issues were moral issues that needed to be
grounded in religious ways of thinking.

Convinced that there was not a necessary
disjunction between religion and science,
Zaleha turned to what he now calls a "recov-
ery of the gospel of creation."

Jalane Schmidt
OnJanuary II, 2005, visiting scholarJalane
Schmidt spoke on "'Witchcraft' and
Statecraft: Afro-Cuban Religions and 20th-
Century Cuban National Identity." Schmidt
is currently Visiting Instructor of Religion
and Scholar-in-Residence at Oberlin
College in Ohio, where her research focuses
on Afro-Cuban Regla de Ocha
("Santeria"). Schmidt's lecture addressed
the intermingling of national identity and
popular religious identities.

Wendy Doniger
OnJanuary 13, 2005, the Department of
Religion was honored to co-sponsor a lec-
ture given by renowned University of
Chicago Divinity School scholar Wendy
Doniger. Doniger is Mircea Eliade
Distinguished Service
Professor of the
History of Religions at
Chicago. Her research
and teaching revolve
around two basic areas
of interest: Hinduism
and mythology. Her
public lecture at UF
was titled "Zoomorphism in Ancient India:
Humans More Bestial than Animals," a talk
about the way animals are portrayed in
human form and what this reveals about
human self-understandings.
The next day, in a session for graduate
students and faculty in the department,

Prof. Doniger led a lively discussion about
doing religious scholarship in a tradition
that is not one's own. She has recently come
under attack by certain Hindus who think
her "outsider" perspective misrepresents
true Hinduism. In rebuttal, Doniger assert-
ed that a comparative studies approach
allows us to appreciate a larger human reality
less accessible from within a tradition.

Robin Wright
OnJanuary 26, 2005, Professor Robin
Wright from the University of Campinas in
Brazil delivered a lecture titled "The
Universal and Particular: Indigenous
Amazonian Socio-Religious Formations and
Their Historical Transformation." Wright
proposed a theoretical model of ethno-
graphic study that tries to make sense of reli-
gious systems among indigenous peoples of
the Amazon. Rejecting what he referred to
as the British anthropological model as well
as the Brazilian ethnologist model, Wright
suggested a singular approach that acknowl-
edges both particularistic and universalistic
social formation at work in religious com-
munities along the Amazon.

Carolyn Merchant
On February 26, 2005, Professor Carolyn
Merchant gave a talk on "The Scientific
Revolution and the Death of Nature: A
Reappraisal." Chancellor's Professor of
Environmental History, Philosophy, and
Ethics at the University of California at
Berkeley, Merchant is author of the classic
book, The Death ofNature: I .. L I ., andthe
Scientific Revolution.

JiiD (0O )iL t (] CKl] CI J(fs(O

T is spring, the college selected Richard
SFoltz as one of three 2005 CLAS Term
Professors. Funded entirely by private
donors, the number of term professors and
the amount of the award varies from year to
year. This year, each received a salary supple-
ment and an additional fund for their
Richard Foltz is an associate professor of

religion, with research interests in Islam and
religion and nature. He came to UF in
2000, after teaching at Columbia and
Brown Universities and Gettysburg College
and earning his PhD from Harvard in 1996.
He has authored three books, including
Spirituality in the Land ofthe Noble and 5. I, trl,.
',it h .,.I He also has edited Worldviews, 5. I., ,
andfTh Environment. and he translated

Conversations with EmperorJahangir, a 17th-century
Persian-language travelogue of India. Foltz
has published numerous scholarly essays on
topics ranging from world environmental
history to animals in religion. As stated else-
where in this issue, he was instrumental in
helping establish the Religion and Nature

Spring 2005, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida page 5

Spring 2005, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

page 5

Gregory Goering will receive his PhD in
Hebrew Bible from Harvard this spring. He
is currently a Visiting Instructor at Oberlin.
Greg is a scholar of Hebrew Bible, Second
TempleJudaism, andJewish and Christian
interpretations of the Bible. His dissertation,
titled "To Whom Has Wisdom's Root Been
Revealed?: Ben Sira's Reappropriation of
Israel's Election," explores how a second
century BCEJewish sage constructed Jewish
identity. Greg will be joining our faculty as a
Lecturer in the fall of 2007.

Jalane Schmidt will receive her PhD in
Religion from Harvard this spring. She is
currently a Visiting Instructor and Scholar-

in-Residence at Oberlin. Jalane is a scholar
of the African diaspora and the continuing
religious reverberations of the conquest in
the Americas. Her dissertation investigates
the role of syncretic Afro-Cuban religious
devotions in the performance of Cuban
national identity. Her article, "Orderly
Streets and Afro-Cuban 'Witchcraft': Rival
Devotions to the Virgin of Charity in 1930s
Cuba" is forthcoming in Albert Raboteau ed.
Uncommon Faithfulness: The Wtness ofAfrican American
Catholics. Jalane will be joining our faculty in
the fall of 2005, and will then take a two year
fellowship at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill before taking up res-
idence in Gainesville in the fall of 2007.

Robin Wright is currently Professor of
Cultural Anthropology at the University of
Campinas in Brazil. An internationally
known scholar of indigenous religions,
Robin received his PhD from Stanford and
for the past twenty years has conducted field
research among the Baniwa and other
indigenous peoples of the northern Amazon.
His rich and complex oeuvre includes Cosmos,
Self, and History; Fr ,, i. 1,., Fr Those Unborn
and, co-edited with Neil Whitehead, In
Darkness and Secrecy: Tl7, ,tl,A j. I ., FAssualtSorcery
and Witchcraft inAmazonia.

br Todd Bt

1.1 ii. 1 p ..I-. ir

ri .. .1 J .. tir h itI. 1i 0 -

I, 2 , i : .1 .. ,., .,,,,, ,,, ,

by Todd Best

I973:Theresa Horton has
been practicing law for twenty
years in Greenville, South

1976: Jack O. Hackett is
a Florida Board Certified
Real Estate Attorney in Punta
Gorda, Florida.

I977: Sarah (Duncan)
McReynolds is Director of
Old Fort Parker Historic Site
in Groesbeck, Texas. Part of
her work is to honor both the
religious beliefs of the
Comanche Indians and the
descendants of the Fort.

1990: Nancy Van Winkle
Palmer moved to St. Louis
after finishing her degree, but
has since returned to
Gainesville. She is the mother
of five children. Formerly a
public school teacher, she
now home schools three of
her children.

1994: Paul Switalski is a
property appraiser for
Hillsborough County
Property Appraisers. He also
actively serves in Christ the
King Catholic Church in

page 6 Spring 2005, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

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page 6

Spring 2005, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida


ID o t1 S dLf shIL Jepartment welcomes itsinewdoctor. .

Shreena Gandhi, I. 1b.. n 4., l,. A.,,,. ..I
Shreena graduated from Swarthmore
College with a B.A in Religion. She contin-
ued her studies in the Master of Theological
Studies program at Harvard Divinity School,
focusing on American Religious History.
Shreena is currently researching the material
culture of Hinduism in the Americas.

MichaelJ. Gressett, 5. i ., CA ., Michael
graduated from the University of California
at Berkeley in Religious Studies and took his
master's degree from the University of
Florida in South Asian religious traditions
with an emphasis in Hinduism. His research
interest is in new religious movements, with
a particular focus on Hindu traditions in
America. He currently teaches Sanskrit in
the department.

LucasJohnston, 5.1, n .'.1 Nature. Luke
holds an undergraduate degree in psycholo-
gy from Wake Forest University and a mas-
ter's degree in theology with a focus in envi-
ronmental ethics and philosophy of science
from the Graduate Theological Union.
Most recently, Luke completed the Graduate
Environmental Ethics Program at the
University of Georgia, where his concern
was environmental dispute resolution and
city planning. His current research involves
corporate and institutional sustainability and
resource management.

Gayle Spiers Lasater, 5.1, .i n A.. ,..
Gayle received a BA in Anthropology with a
minor in International Relations at the
University of West Florida. She continued
her studies with an MA 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; west-
ern monotheism in the Atlantic New World;
the interaction of Christian missions within
the Latin American and Caribbean religious
field; and religion and the environment in
the Americas. Gayle is now working as a
research assistant for the UF-Ford
Foundation immigrant religion project
titled "Latino Immigrants in Florida: Lived
Religion, Space, and Power."

Samuel Snyder, 5.1, .,,.1 Nature. Sam
received an undergraduate degree in English
and religion from Bucknell and a master's
degree from Syracuse University with a dual
focus on philosophy of religion and religion
and nature. He is the graduate student liai-
son for the Department with the American
Academy of Religion. His interests include
hunting and angling as "lived religious"
practice and environmental conservation.
Sam is a contributor to The Engclopedia of
5.1, .., .,. 1Nature.

Hilit Surowitz, 5.1,, n il. ,..... Hilit
received an undergraduate degree from the
University of Florida with a dual major in
Religion and Political Science. She received
a Fulbright Fellowship to study the religious
and political integration of Israel's
Ethiopian Jewish community, and subse-
quently earned a master's degree from the
department of religion at the Hebrew
University ofJerusalem. After teaching pri-
mary and secondary school in both Israel
and South Florida, Hilit began the doctoral
program. Her research interests include
Caribbean religion, the Jewish communities
of the Caribbean, and Diaspora studies. She
is particularly interested in the trans-

Atlantic social and trade networks estab-
lished and maintained by the European,
North African, and Caribbean Jewish com-
munities and their role in defining commu-
nity identity.

Gavin Van Horn, 5.I .. rb....1 Nature. Gavin
completed his undergraduate degree in reli-
gion at Pepperdine University and received a
master of divinity degree from Princeton
Theological Seminary. He is currently
researching the relationships between
humans and predator animals, and, more
specifically, religious attitudes regarding
wolves. Gavin is a contributor to The
Engclopedia of S. li. .*.1 Nature.

T e ner time Lou're surtingi the
M we3. Lsitl theiI department wb site
11t %, %w. religion ufl edu It sa glf-eat a!
to keep in rou.rhwuh iht is hdppen-
ing in lit- direpnrtment. Alu. aluiiii
,.re encouiaged to parnipdie in the
depJrtment of Ielipgion llrlunni hlt
,er.lce. Alumni on this light m:ia p,,t
and iecei\e r--mnals tn rind trion o(.he
aluinir and thr- depa:t1ntl. TlIi, sri -
ice i l iee. and (iui Ina: uinsiubsE jibe
:n11tune \nu 'wislh. Thnoe nt \nu '-ihn
iespionded tu Out' teting i touch '
lett-er \e ient lIn ulk ai ah.tief-', un lhis
list. For others wlhor wishl tu suhsc rihe.
e-ither send an e-mail] to anr mnir-'
ieliglun.ufl.-dl u o subsc tI I-e sunielf
diirell bs a-ending an .Iemdil tu alumni-
religon-nrequr-st@clasj.utl.edL In tlh
jod ot'ol ,i-IrS gJ-r. r\pe: stiIs,-i: be
end. We ihope uu(.i ,ilIl "in' us in con-
\erS.i loll nline1

1997: Chris Cudebec
works for Allen Press, an aca-
demic publishing company in
Lawrence, Kansas. In March
2005, he will leave for Peace
Corps service in Albania.
Chris is interested in eventu-
ally returning to graduate
school to pursue social ethics.

2000: Siva
Radhakrishnan is in medical
school at UF, and hopes to
continue his pursuit of Hindu

2001: Katie Lutz has
interned with an international
community for developmen-
tally disabled adults, and is
now looking into graduate
school. Her travels from
Gainesville have taken her to
New York, Europe, and now
back to the familiar territory

of California where she hopes
to enter a graduate program
in social work.

2004: John (Andy)
Anderson is applying to
Master of Divinity graduate

Spring 2005, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida page 7

Spring 2005, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

page 7


he Department of Religion hopes to provide students with
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lh .,. l. tt I,., , ,,tl . ,

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