Spring 2002 Newsletter
Department of Religion, UGA

Professor Theodore J. Lewis accepted the Blum-Iwry Professorship in Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, effective July 1, 2002. He is teaching Hebrew Bible and Northwest Semitic philology and religion in the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences. Dr. Lewis joined the UGA religion department in 1987. He also served on the Graduate, Honors, and Linguistics faculties and as a member of the Arts & Sciences Promotion and Tenure Committee.

The Abbot of Holy Spirit Abbey in Conyers, GA spoke April 2, 2002 at the department’s annual lecture in religious studies.
Right Reverend Abbot Dom M. Basil Pennington, OCSO met with graduate students and faculty and then presented a public evening lecture on "Contemplative Prayer."
Father Basil joined the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance in 1951 and was consecrated a monk in 1956. He is widely recognized for his spiritual writings and pioneering work in the Cistercian community. Some of his recent works include Lectio Divina: Renewing the Ancient Practice of Praying the Scriptures (Crossroad) and Living in the Question (Continuum). Father Basil was elected abbot of Our Lady of Holy Spirit Abbey in August 2000.

Maintaining distance of church and state has often meant the exclusion of the Bible from public schools. Now an innovative approach by Matthew Hicks respects the constitutional separation while providing age-appropriate instruction about the Bible.

Hicks received his Masters in Religious Studies from UGA in 2001. His thesis, How to Teach About the Bible in Public Schools, was completed under direction of Dr. Theodore J. Lewis. In his thesis Hicks provided sample lessons plans for presenting the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible to students in a scholarly manner. The lessons integrate the humanities, drawing upon history, art, geography, and other areas. The overall tone of the material is neutral and without presumption as to a student’s religious beliefs.
Hicks developed 35 lesson plans on the Hebrew Scriptures for use in public secondary schools, which the National Bible Foundation plans to publish. In February 2002 the curriculum, entitled "Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures," was approved by the Tennessee State Department of Education and was subsequently adopted by the Shelby County School Board in Memphis.

Dr. Jace Weaver joins the religion department faculty August 2002. He's coming from Yale University, where he taught in the American Studies Program, Religious Studies Department, and the Law School. Dr. Weaver is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary and Columbia Law School. At UGA, he is scheduled to teach Introduction to Religion in Native American Cultures (RELI 2004) in fall 2002 and in spring 2003 as an honors course (RELI 2004H).

MA student Kime Lawson received an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award at 2002 Honors Day ceremonies. Lawson taught Introduction to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (RELI 1001) fall and spring semesters. His graduate studies are in Theology with Dr. Will Power. The award recognizes outstanding efforts in instruction as the recipient’s teaching performance ranks in the top ten percent of all TAs serving the University.

Associate Professor T. B. Slater was re-elected to the steering committee of the African American Biblical Hermeneutics Section of the Society of Biblical Literature, the largest learned society for biblical studies in the world.
He has accepted an invitation to write a commentary on 1, 2, & 3 John in Determined To Be Free, a forthcoming project by a team of African American New Testament scholars. Dr. Slater recently completed reviewing two introductory textbooks on religious studies for Wadsworth Publishing Co. He is currently working on an article on the poor-rich theme in Luke and nearing completion on two monographs, one on the son of man question and one on Greco-Roman religious thought.

Associate Professor Russell Kirkland, after twelve years as review editor of the Journal of Chinese Religions, has accepted the position as East Asia Area Editor for Religious Studies Review, in which he has published regularly since 1988. He was also recently elected to the steering committee of the AAR Chinese Religions Group. In fall 2001 he presented a paper entitled "Inspecting the Lens: Reflections on J. J. Clarke’s The Tao of the West" at the AAR annual meeting; another entitled "Varieties of Taoist Practice: Pedagogical Models for Teaching Taoist ‘Self-Cultivation’," at the University of Colorado; and another entitled "The Taoist Priest (Tao-shih) in Early China: History and Perceptions," at the Southeast Early China Roundtable, an organization on whose board of directors he continues to serve. This spring he presented a plenary address, "Paradigms For Transforming Reality," at the international Conference on Tantra and Taoism at Boston University. He continues to serve on the board of directors of the Society for the Study of Chinese Religions, as well as on the board of the U. S. Taoist Association. At UGA, he has been appointed to the Medieval Studies Faculty, and was awarded a Foreign Travel Grant from the University of Georgia Research Foundation. He also remains the moderator of the Alpha Gamma Tau chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa, the national Honor Society for Theology and Religious Studies.

Professor William L. Power has authored "Myth and Pragmatic Semiotics," which will appear in the book In Thinking Through Myths: Philosophical Perspectives forthcoming in spring 2002. Also forthcoming is "Divine Perfection: A Process Philosophical Theology" in a book on process theology. Dr. Power was a respondent to a paper at the Society for Philosophy of Religion in February. In March he presented "Peircean Abduction and Philosophical Theology" at the American Academy of Religion’s annual meeting. At AAR he also served as a panel member of a Symposium on the Philosophy of Frederick Ferré. In April2002 Dr. Power served as a respondent to Alistair Kee’s paper "Nietzsche and Christians with Beautiful Feet" at the University of South Carolina conference Philosophy of Religion at the Turn of the 21st Century.

Associate Professor Carolyn Medine gave the AAR/SECSOR Presidential Address at the regional meeting in Atlanta in March 2002. She spoke on Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus and the African American Pentecostal-Holiness reworking, The Gospel at Colonus. She co-presented a paper at the Southern Humanities Council with John Randolph LeBlanc of the University of Texas at Tyler on transitive identity and postcolonial writing. Summer 2002 Dr. Medine will teach in two Wabash Center workshops, one for undergraduate teachers and the other for pre-tenure African American faculty.