This spring the department bids farewell to Dr. Jonathan Herman, Associate Professor and one of the most long-serving faculty members in the Department of Religious Studies. Jon joined the faculty in 1996 after completing his Ph.D. at Harvard University and serving on the faculty at Lewis and Clark College and St. Lawrence University.
His wide-ranging publications – including I and Tao: Martin Buber’s Encounter with Chuang Tzu, Taoism for Dummies, “The Spiritual Illusion: Constructive Steps Toward Rectification and Redescription,” and “A Picture Worth a Thousand Tears: How a Single Photograph Healed a Jewish Family” – reflect his interest in multiple conversational threads in the study of religion, as well as his engagement with both academic and public audiences.
For years, Jon was an active and leading member in the Society for the Study of Chinese Religions, serving as its Treasurer (1999-2011) and its Secretary (2001-2011). In the Department of Religious Studies, Jon introduced students to key issues in the academic study of religion, ranging from introductory freshman-level courses to graduate seminars. Jon offered courses in his areas of expertise, such as Chinese religions, mysticism, theoretical approaches to the study of religion, and Martin Buber. He also introduced hundreds of students to holiday celebrations from religious traditions around the world in his regular Perspectives class. For many years, Jon served as the Director of Undergraduate Studies, shepherding students in the undergraduate degree. Among graduate students, he may be best known for asking the question, “what’s at stake?” as they launched their own research projects. This question has become a staple in departmental conversations, an indication of Jon’s impact on our collective thinking.
Over the years, Jon has shaped the intellectual and professional lives of hundreds of religious studies students, faculty, and staff. We’ll miss his humor (well, most of it!), his devotion to the Atlanta Braves (before they left Turner Field), and his bottomless well of trivia related to the Three Stooges and southpaws. We wish him and his family all the best as they head into this chapter of their lives. Thank you, Jon!