Religious studies professor Daniel Getz was born in Denver, Colorado, shortly after World War II. His parents were both veterans; his mother in the army and his father a Marine. His mother was stationed at a hospital in India, with regiments of Chinese and Japanese soldiers in the wards.
As a child, he went through his mother’s old photos, including a shot of the Taj Mahal that he re-created on a Bradley study-abroad trip more than half a century later.
Getz said he had no idea he would spend much of his life studying these early fascinations.
“It’s the most amazing thing,” Getz said. “Life is mysterious.”
Getz majored in western philosophy, but became interested in China when he attended a seminar his senior year. That summer, he attended an eight-week class that provided a year’s worth of instruction in Chinese.
“I just fell in love with it,” he said.
He later traveled to Taiwan and got a degree in Chinese philosophy from National Taiwan University.
Later, he picked up a few more degrees, learned Japanese, and, needing a job, settled down to teach philosophy and religious studies at Bradley. He has taught in the department for 27 years, and he and his wife raised their two children in Peoria.
He argued teaching should not be thought of only as a knowledgeable professor explaining things to ignorant students.
“It’s usually thought of as a one-way street, little realizing that actually, you’re part of a process,” Getz said.
He has nothing but praise for Bradley.
“I had very generous colleagues, who were willing to loan me outlines and things,” Getz said.
Studying religion and philosophy, he believes, serves multiple purposes. On one hand, people ask questions about humanity and human existence
“Which, by the way,” he pointed out, “there isn’t an answer, but it has to be asked.”
On the other hand, he said he believes there is a practical aspect to these studies.
“As a society, religion plays such an important role” he said. “Not understanding the differences and the complexities of Islam continues to … lead us down incorrect paths.”
Understanding others is key to Getz’s view of his subject.
“He’s a very curious person – curious in the sense that he wants to understand everything,” said his colleague Andrew Kelley, chairperson of the department, who has known Getz for 19 years.