I am going to resist the temptation to recite my professional achievements, culminating with a humble encomium to my professors for making me the great sociologist that I am. Instead, in the Berkeley tradition, I am going to inject a dissident voice. I'm skeptical about the logic behind this Berkeley Alumni Project. Not that I am immune to the innocent pleasure of peering into lives attached to names from the distant past. But I have a gnawing sense that the real purpose of the Alumni Project is to develop a cult around UC, Berkeley.
In my senior year at UC Santa Barbara, recent Berkeley émigré Tamotsu Shibutani introduced me to social psychology and the sociology of knowledge, and therein began the influence of Berkeley sociology on my academic career. When I first arrived I found the bigness, competitiveness, and cosmopolitan impersonality of the Berkeley campus difficult to negotiate.
My years in Berkeley (1962-65, 1967-69), were among the most formative of my life, largely because of the social movements of that era and the vision of community I caught and never lost. I specialized in the sociology of religion, and have long felt grateful to Robert Bellah, Hanan Selvin, Gertrude Selznick, Philip Selznick and Neal Smelser for their mentoring (and to Albert Rasmussen and Charles S. McCoy, both deceased, who were on the faculty at Pacific School of Religion).
Since I "retired" in the late 1990's, I've spent full time volunteering for Democratic candidates at local state, and Federal levels. I spent 12 years on the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, 6 years as Director of Region 6 of the California Democratic Party (Alameda and Contra Costa Counties). I've served as a delegate to the California Democratic Party since 1994. I've spent the past six years as the "Community Member" of the Board of Directors of the Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College, Berkeley.
After years of combining anti-Vietnam war activities and graduate school, I was finally able to bring academics and politics together enough to finish my dissertation on the personal and professional crises of scientists and engineers in the military industries in the Stanford area. In the process, I helped make two documentary films to aid their efforts to organize fellow scientists and engineers. I left Berkeley in September 1969, dissertation unfinished, to join Dave Colfax and George Rawick as new members of the Washington University "radical" sociology department.
Fr. Jim Meehan, SJ, died May 29, 2016 at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center In- firmary in Los Gatos, CA. A gifted educator, compassionate counselor and priest, voracious reader and cultural trend spotter: these descriptors barely scratch the surface of this man of God who shared his life with many.