MAILED: July 31, 2001
EAU CLAIRE — As many as 60,000
people all over the world may read a research paper written by a University of
Wisconsin-Eau Claire alumnus.
Scott Niedfeldt, Germantown, a recent comparative
studies in religion graduate, was the first student in the department of
philosophy and religious studies to have an essay written for a course at the
university accepted for publication in a professional journal.
The paper was written for Psychology of Eastern
Religions, a capstone course taught last fall by Dr. Edward Beach, assistant
professor of philosophy and religious studies.
“I almost gave up,” Niedfeldt said. “It was a lot
of work. I told Dr. Beach I was going to give up.”
But Beach e-mailed Niedfeldt to encourage him to write
his paper. “Beach was really supportive,” Niedfeldt said. “He helped me in
the beginning, content-wise. A lot of credit goes to Dr. Beach for his
With Beach’s help, Niedfeldt continued writing his
paper, which was then reedited in a spring course, Writing and Research in
Religious Studies, taught by Dr. James Brummer, department chair of philosophy
and religious studies.
Niedfeldt, who didn’t really have a thesis for his
paper before the class, said Brummer helped him a lot with structure. “Dr.
Brummer made the paper what it is.”
Niedfeldt said he and his classmates loved the class and
all thought it should be mandatory for philosophy and religious studies majors
and minors. “I grew a lot in my writing,” Niedfeldt said. “It was the best
class on earth.”
Niedfeldt said he had come across The Vedanta Kesari, an
88-year-old English monthly journal from Chennai, India, while searching the
Internet, and decided to send them his paper.
“I didn’t even expect them to respond,” Niedfeldt
said. “I just wanted their opinion to see if I’d gotten the philosophy
Several days later the journal did respond, saying they
liked the paper and wanted to publish it in their July edition.
Niedfeldt’s paper, “I Love to Eat Sugar, I Don’t
Want to Become Sugar — Sri Ramakrishna,” examines the life of Sri
Ramakrishna, a revered saint in modern Bengal history.
The paper’s title reflects Sri
Ramakrishna’s habit of quoting the words of the poet Ramprasad to express his
desire to combine his love of God with his love of humankind.
The Vedanta Kesari, one of the oldest religious and
philosophy journals in India, is a practical guide to successful living for the
entire family. Through the years many learned monks have been editors, which has
given the journal a good reputation for authenticity and scholarship.
“The magazine disseminates the liberal view of Sri
Ramakrishna, and it has a universal and non-sectarian approach to values,
culture and spirituality,” the manager of The Vedanta Kesari said, noting that
the magazine receives many articles from writers in America, where readership is
“The paper meant so much to me,” Niedfeldt said,
adding that it was important to him not only to gain the respect of the
professors in the department, but also to prove that as a Christian he could be
open-minded and serious about studying other religions. “I may not agree with
them, but I still have respect for them.”
In the fall Niedfeldt will be starting graduate school at
Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill. “I want to teach Judaism,
Christianity or Islam,” Niedfeldt said. “As much as I love Hinduism, the
philosophy is difficult.”
Niedfeldt also submitted his paper for publication in the
UW-Eau Claire philosophy and religion department’s annual undergraduate
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: July 31, 2001