October 05, 2012


By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Elijah Siegler will give the talk, "Dream Trippers: Global Daoism and the Quest for Authenticity," Monday, Oct. 15, at 5 p.m. in the Gallery Theatre of the Elaine Langone Center at Bucknell University.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is part of the university's Charles H. Watts II Humanities Institute series, "Dis-orienting America: Asian Religions and U.S. Culture."

An associate professor of religion at the College of Charleston, Siegler will discuss two types of encounters: "spiritual" tours, focusing on China Dream Trip sponsored Healing Tao USA, and Western Daoist scholar-practitioners who have embraced the tenets and practices of Daoism and are researching and living with monks in China.

"These scholar-practitioners are often critical of the "New Age" entrepreneurship of the founder of Healing Tao and his ilk," said Siegler.

This talk will focus on one such scholar-practitioner who maintains, as does the leader of the Healing Tao trip, an ongoing relationship with a former vice-abbot of a major Chinese monastery, who is an urban hermit.

"All three of these individuals-the spiritual entrepreneur, the scholar-practitioner, and the monk-hermit - must define themselves in opposition to or in conjunction with the others. And, as they negotiate between the poles of experience vs. intellectual, and perennialism vs. historicism, they each construct different, yet intersecting, visions of "authentic" Daoism," he said.

Siegler holds a bachelor's degree in comparative study of religion from Harvard University and a doctorate in religious studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Hi research interests include new religious movements, religion and popular culture, Asian religions in America and religious studies pedagogy.

He is the author of New Religious Movements (Prentice Hall, 2007) and numerous article and book chapters exploring Daoism, globalism and Chinese religions, and religion in television cop shows. His most recent book is Dream Trippers: Global Daoism and Predicament of Modern Spirituality, co-authored with David A. Palmer, University of Hong Kong.

The lecture is the second in the series, "Dis-orienting America: Asian Religions and U.S. Culture." Speakers throughout the semester will explore three major Asian religions — Buddhism, Daoism and Hinduism — that have had an impact on 20th-century high and popular American culture, according to James Shields, assistant professor of comparative humanities and Asian thought at Bucknell.

Contact: Division of Communications

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