By ELIZABETH DEANGELIS ’15
On February 12th, Manhattanville celebrated the publication of Professor Peter Gardella’s new book American Civil Religion: Monuments, Texts, and Images and also 25 years of publication and scholarly work.
Professor Gardella is a chair member if the World Religion Department here at Manhattanville. He has been affiliated with the college since 1983. Gardella received his PHD from Yale University in 1983 and had already published three books. These being Innocent Ecstasy, How Christianity Gave America an Ethic of Sexual Pleasure Domestic Religion: Work, Food, Sex, and Other Commitments, and American Angels: Useful Spirits in the Material World. Gardella also has even began to start a new blog!
At the event three people spoke on behalf of the professor Gail Simmons who is a part of Provost & VP Academic Affairs, Professor Kelleher who is head of Asian Studies Department, and Elizabeth DeAngelis, a current undergraduate World Religion major. All three speakers expressed the great impact Gardella has had at Manhattanville and how unique he is. “It is always important to take opportunities to celebrate the great work that professors do and what they give back to the world,” said DeAngelis ’15.
Gardella’s book expresses how America has a religion itself. Gardella spoke about the book and discussed many religious symbols throughout America. Some of these symbols were Lincoln Monument, Disney Land, and the Statue of Martin Luther King in Washington DC. Gardella compares many of these images in his book to Pagan statues, which was very fascinating. His discussion on Disney Land as sacred place was interesting and brought humor to the crowd. “I really never had any desire to go to Disney Land before writing this book, however I knew I had to go and when I got there I said my God this is a scared place,” said Gardella. Gardella expressed how important Disney Land was to American society and it is even the most visited place in America for honey moons.
The event was success and lead to interesting discussion with the crowd on topics such as how atheists would feel considering American Civil Religion. Many students enjoyed the event and were happy to come out and celebrate Gardella’s success. “The turnout at professor Gardella’s book launch reflects how much he means to the school community. He plays such an important role in the World Religions department that is largely forgotten here and it’s encouraging to see him receiving the recognition he deserves,” said Amanada Banzy ’14, a student majoring in world religions.
Professor Gardella is continuing to add success to the Manhattanville community and inspiring students.