A minister and a philosopher will be expressing their polar perceptions of death tonight at a reading and discussion entitled Faith and Reason Look at Death.
John Bluth Gill and Massimo Pigliucci have been selected by the UT Libraries and the UT Creative Writing program in conjunction with the Writers in the Library series. The reading will be held this evening at 7 in Hodges Library 605.
I think it'll be a really interesting discussion about a very important topic where the people who are speaking will be coming at it from very different points of view, Steven Harris, English literature librarian, said. People will learn a lot, and then be able to discuss it afterwards because we're having a question and answer session.
Martha Rudolph, with Library Outreach, said that the reading should be especially interesting considering that death is a topic that people don't talk about.
Our two readers are approaching it from very different points of view, Rudolph said. Anyone in sciences or humanities would be interested in this topic. Both speakers have a background in the sciences, but they've gone off in different directions. One is a clergyman, and one is a Ph.D. student in philosophy.
Both men boast impressive rŽsumŽs, and Rudolph said that she can certainly attest to their capability of breaching the subject matter. Reverend Gill has just come back from a very interesting experience, Rudolph said. He has had some very poignant life experiences, and he'll be drawing on that. He has ministered to a country in South America, and he's really had to confront death and think about it more than most of us.
Gill has been the minister at Church of the Savior, UCC, in Knoxville since 1993. He now serves as the Regional Board Chair of the National Conference for Community and Justice and has enmeshed himself in local peace and justice efforts.
He has also dabbled in writing poetry, prayers, liturgical pieces, articles and sermons. Gill graduated from Yale Divinity School, pursued a career in environmental biology, and taught 5th and 6th grade science in Quito, Ecuador.
Massimo Pigliucci is an Associate Professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UT.
Massimo has a regular column in the Metro Pulse, so students may already be familiar with him, Rudolph said. Pigliucci has also been published in national journals and is a practiced debater.
He earned a doctorate in genetics from the University of Ferrara in Italy and also a doctorate in botany from the University of Connecticut. He published two books on evolutionary biology, and has garnered many awards for excellence in research and evolutionary studies.
The reading offers different perspectives so it will be a more rounded discussion of the topic, Harris said.
Traditionally the Writers in the Library series hosts only poets and novelists. In this week's installment the featured speakers are essayists.
This one is a little different because most of the other writers have been writers of fiction or poetry, Harris said. With this one we thought more of the theme, and then we came up with who we thought would be good speakers.
We were looking for something different, and this is a departure from our normal format, Rudolph said. It's rather unusual for us to have essayists because we normally have fiction and poetry writers.
The turn-out is expected to be sizable, Harris said.
We're hoping to have sixty or seventy people, but I think there may be more like a hundred because we've been publicizing, Harris said.
The reading is free and open to the public.