We have lost a dear friend and wonderful supporter of ISS. Charles H. Long was a distinguished scholar of religions reassessing the intellectual terrain for many others to probe and articulate the field. He took keen interest in the work of the ISS and participated in several projects of the Institute including the Distinguished Speaker Series, and writing projects.
Below are sentiments I sent to a circle of friends that begin to try to capture what Charles Long meant to the ISS circle.
Jennifer Reid: It is with profound sadness that I am writing to inform you that our friend, teacher, mentor, and colleague Charles H. Long passed away in the small hours of this morning. Dr. Long was accompanied by his family constantly in the last few weeks while he was in hospital and then in hospice.
I will share any details I learn with you in the coming days. My heartfelt condolences go out to each one of you who is mourning this great loss.
Vincent L. Wimbush: I join many others in registering the sense of loss…it is profound and deep.
But I also take joy in having had the privilege of knowing Chuck, of learning from him, being challenged and inspired by him.
I will forever be grateful to him for taking time to help me in my (professional and personal) risk-taking that is now ISS. He listened to me, he read what I struggled to argue and to model in intellectual orientation and programming (as disciplinary perfidy). He was there to support the programmatic steps taken. He understood how out of the box, out of the lane the whole effort was.
That is because this really was his story. I was inspired by his personal and professional example of staying focused on the issues, not the (disciplinary and/or racial-ized) noises or the lights.
He was inspiration and challenge to the point of my conceptualizing the arguments for and even naming the venture that I would risk turning to.
Yes, the loss is profound; but so also the influence, the challenge, the inspiration.
Read Charles Long’s conversation with Vincent Wimbush on the work of the ISS
Vincent L. Wimbush
The unchangeable brilliance of the man was present right up to the end. His luminous understandings of what he called “the common”, what many of us term “the human,” taught anyone fortunate enough to be in his presence that real work requires us to be serious about everything. His reverent irreverence when encountering the superficial or pretentious, his respect for the sacred as it manifests everywhere, his fluent interpretations of the most abstract conceptual theses, and his ability to laugh deeply at the quirkiness of this world and its peoples, are signposts for generations of scholars. Charles Long was a great man, and the meanings of his life remain for the ages.