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Langara’s resident religious studies scholar

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Langara instructor Larry Devris in China in 2011.
Langara instructor Larry Devris in China in 2011.

Religious studies instructor Larry Devries is a man of many talents. He has travelled the world, is fluent in numerous languages, and is widely published.

Now 71, Devries has been teaching at Langara for more than 20 years. He still gets excited about new ideas.

“I recently found actually a whole new field called experimental philosophy,” Devries said.

“So now I’m thinking about a whole bunch of things because I’ve just brought that up. I usually find half-a-dozen interesting things per week that are really important . . . but this really struck me.”

A blue-collar boy from Minnesota

Born in Northern Minnesota, the son of an electrician and an office worker, Devries grew up in a blue-collar atmosphere.

Like his father, Larry became an electrician, which makes sense given his proficiency for mathematics.

Devries had studied in Istanbul, Chicago, and Berkeley. He has studied at least 11 languages, including the ancient languages Sanskrit, Babylonian and Avestan.

“With a language you learn a different way of thinking,” Devries said.

A new perspective

Devries said he wants students to travel and study cultures, mythology and religions, to gain experiences that challenge them to develop new global perspectives.

“You can get on a plane and be anywhere in the world within 24 hours, and you can consume those sights and so forth,” said Devries.

“You can actually almost consume those people, but can you understand them? Can you relate to them as subjects, not objects? Can you speak their language? Can you walk in their shoes?”

Reported by Ash Kelly

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