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Westminster College Welcomes Back Professor as Guest Speaker

Posted on Friday, September 19, 2003

Dr. Jeffrey Kripal, former professor of religion at Westminster College, will speak at Honors Colloquium Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 6:30 p.m. at the Witherspoon Lakeview Room of the McKelvey Campus Center.

Kripal, who is currently the Lynette S. Autry associate professor of religious studies and director of Asian studies at Rice University, will discuss his new book, Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom: Eroticism and Reflexivity in the Study of Mysticism.

"His book treats recent advances in religious studies involving the categories of gender, sexuality, and sexual orientation," said Dr. Bethany Hicok, assistant professor of English at Westminster College. "Dr. Kripal will discuss his book and some of the cultural, psychological, and creative processes involved in its writing. He will also field questions from colloquium participants, who have read his book."

Kripal received his undergraduate degree from the Conception Seminary College, and his master's and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. While at Westminster College, he also served as the Vira I. Heinz Endowed Professorship. His area of interests includes colonial and modern Hinduism, the erotics and ethics of mystical traditions, and the psychology of religion. He has written extensively in all these areas. His publications include Kali's Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna, which won the American Academy of Religion's History or Religions Prize.

"He is presently researching a book on the history of the Esalen Institute, the counter-cultural center in Big Sur, Calif., that has played such an important role in translating Asian religious traditions into American culture, and forging new spiritualities that can embrace the contemplative depths of the religious, the discoveries of evolutionary science, and the American experience of democracy, individualism, and radical freedom," Hicok said.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Hicok at (724) 946-6349 or e-mail