Anyone who studies religion in the American west owes a debt to Ferenc Szasz, Professor of History at the University of New Mexico, who passed away this past weekend after a battle with leukemia. Memorial services will be held at Albuquerque's First Congregational United Church of Christ next week and at the University of New Mexico in August.
Especially in Religion in the Modern American West (University of Arizona Press, 2000), Szasz helped make the case for the significance of this field of study, and remains among the only scholars to have attempted to sketch its contours. I was fortunate enough to meet Szasz when he spoke at an Arizona State University conference, “Race, Ethnicity, and Religion in the American West,” in the spring of 2006. I remember him from that event as a gracious and generous scholar, eager to support new ventures in the field. Perhaps not coincidentally, that conference eventually sparked the idea for our own Seminar on Religion in the American West, which supports this blog. Rest in peace, Professor Szasz.