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Romanian President Presents Medal to Westminster Professor

Posted on Monday, October 30, 2006

Dr. Bryan Rennie, Westminster College associate professor of religion, received the Mircea Eliade Centennial Jubilee Medal from Romanian President Traian Basescu while attending the sixth annual international European Congress of the History of Religions.

"I feel honored to be among those who received this medal," Rennie said. "They include some of the greatest living scholars of religion from some of the most prestigious universities of Europe and America. Their participation made this conference a very significant meeting of the minds."

Rennie was not alone in receiving recognition at this meeting. Scholars honored on this occasion were Antoine Faivre of the École Pratiques des Hautes Études of the Sorbonne in Paris; Lawrence Sullivan from the University of Notre Dame; Jean Kellens of the Collège de France; Matei Calinescu from Indiana University; Wendy Doniger, the Mircea Eliade Chair of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago; David Carrasco of Harvard; Michel Meslin, Head of the Research Institute for the Study of Religions at the Sorbonne in Paris; and Cardinal Paul Poupard.

"The meetings, which focused on 'The Religious History of Europe and Asia,' were tremendously informative sessions on Greek and Roman religions, and on Indian religions," Rennie said. "I was particularly excited by some of the material on the history of Iranian religions, which I will be able to use when lecturing on that topic at the American Academy of Religion annual meeting in Washington next month."

At the conference, Rennie presented "The Influence of Eastern Orthodox Christian Theology on Mircea Eliade's Understanding of Religion" at a special session on Eliade.

"The highlight for me was a series of lecture sessions devoted to 'Mircea Eliade and His Legacy.'  Eliade, a native of Bucharest, became one of the most famous and influential historians of religion in the United States, teaching for thirty years at the University of Chicago, and writing over 20 major books," Rennie said. "He is currently a topic of some controversy and is the main focus of my own research. I've had two books published on Eliade, a third appeared for the first time at this conference, and a fourth is currently in press.

"To hear scholars from America, Norway, Romania, Germany, and Italy give their analysis of Eliade, largely confirming my own position, was particularly exciting. It was the high point of almost 20 year's work and gives me great confidence to carry forward my own analyses of religion."

Rennie, who has been with Westminster College since 1994, is also the Vira I. Heinz Chair in Religion. He earned his undergraduate degree, master's and Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Contact Rennie at (724) 946-7151 or e-mail for more information.

Dr. Bryan Rennie
Dr. Bryan Rennie and President of Romania Traian Basecu
Mircea Eliade Centennial Jubilee Medal