Eugene Klaaren, associate professor of religion, emeritus, died Oct. 18 at the age of 78. Klaaren taught at Wesleyan from 1968 until he retired in 2006.
Klaaren’s courses introduced students to central Christian thinkers in the history of theology and philosophy, from Martin Luther to Soren Kierkegaard, John Calvin to David Hume and Jonathan Edwards, and Friedrich Schleiermacher to Friedrich Nietzsche. Over the years he broadened his academic interests, regularly visiting Africa to study indigenous African religions as well as Christian theological formations that combined political action and religious belief and practice. His passion was in showing the forms of belief that sustained secularity and the vitality of the theological discipline from the early modern through the postmodern age. This dynamic intertwining of secular sciences and the religious imagination is captured in the title of Klaaren’s book, Religious Origins of Modern Science: Belief in Creation in Seventeenth Century Thought.
Rick Elphick, professor of history, emeritus, co-taught classes with Klaaren.
“Gene was a profoundly thoughtful teacher. He had a near-encyclopedic command of many literatures. When asked a question in the classroom, a seminar, or after a lecture, he would fall silent for thirty seconds and then come forth with an answer masterfully weaving insights from far-flung regions of his inner archive,” Elphick said.
A service for Klarren will be held in Holland, Michigan. The Wasch Center for Retired Faculty will host an additional service in November at Wesleyan.
(Information for this article was provided by the Office of Academic Affairs)