Friendship is enough.

“The word sacrament is being attached to the word friendship not to qualify friendship but to put a hedge of protection around friendship. To consecrate and hallow friendship in a way that says: Friendship is enough.

The word sacrament is attached to remind us that friendship is not utilitarian. Far too often, Christian “friendship” drifts toward the utilitarian. We use people to achieve our Christian agendas. Liberals use people for their social justice agendas and conservatives use people for their evangelism agendas. You’re counting the number of people fed or the number of souls saved.

The word sacramental is used to remind us that true friendship rests in the simple “being with” others, for no other purpose than the “being with.”

And that is why friendship is a sacrament, an experience of grace.”

from “All Friendship is Sacramental” (a response to an earlier post, “How Friendship Saves the World“) at Experimental Theology


Reading Stories; Cultivating Empathy

I’ve wanted to post the link to these stories about abortion for quite some time. Today is the day, I guess. Probably because I revisited this, today, and read – “In order to encounter each other, and especially ‘the Other,’ knowledgeably, and in love, we must read and write against cognitive ease and toward empathetic exploration.”

I’ll let the author/editor introduce the collection:

“Abortion is something we tend to be more comfortable discussing as an abstraction; the feelings it provokes are too complicated to face in all their particularities. Which is perhaps why, even in doggedly liberal parts of the country, very few people talk openly about the experience, leaving the reality of abortion, and the emotions that accompany it, a silent witness in our political discourse. Even now, four decades after Roe, some of the women we spoke with would talk only if we didn’t print their real names.

As their stories show, the experience of abortion in the United States in 2013 is vastly uneven. It varies not just by state but also by culture, race, income, age, family; by whether a boyfriend offered a ride to the clinic or begged her not to go; by the compassion or callousness of the medical staff; by whether she took the pill alone at home or navigated protesters outside a clinic. Some feel so shamed that they will never tell their friends or family; others feel stronger for having gotten through the experience. The same woman can wake up one morning with regret, the next with relief—most have feelings too knotty for a picket sign. “There’s no room,” one woman told us, “to talk about being unsure.”


“Feed us, or we die”

We sang this during communion today, and although I think I’ve sung it before, I was really struck by it nonetheless.

Food for pilgrim people, manna from on high

Jesus, bread of heaven, feed us, or we die

Feed us with your life, feed us with your life,

come into our longing hearts, feed us with your joy,

come into our longing hearts, feed us with your joy.


The Advanced Style Blog

If you are not familiar with the Advanced Style blog, do check it out… I think it’s delightful.

Since I was introduced to Ari’s work through NPR, I’ll let them introduce Advanced Style to you too:

“The fashion industry is sometimes criticized for unrealistic portrayals of young women. But if you’re a woman older than 60, there are almost no portrayals, realistic or otherwise. Fashion may be something you have to invent more than follow. A blog called Advanced Style focuses on women who’ve done just that.

The blogger bringing their images to the world is 31-year-old Ari Seth Cohen. His idea of heaven is to wait in the freezing cold on a street corner in the middle of Manhattan hoping a fabulous-looking older woman passes by. When he spots one, he rushes up to her, explains his project, asks for a photo and just generally tries to convince her he’s not a weirdo. He’s rarely turned down.”

Grad School Links

Well, this is for me, not for all of you. So, you can stop reading if you like. I’m decided to keep a running compilation of helpful (or so I think) grad school links, for myself and others. Not that this is supposed to be any substitute for lots of in-person advice-asking.

One Form of the “Don’t Go” Speech

APA Grad Guide

Program Diversity

Application Timeline

Application Advice

Watch out for these

Advice about Visiting Schools

A User’s Guide to Philosophy [Programs] Without Rankings

(resources for evaluating programs and applying to grad school that don’t draw on rankings, which are often controversial)

Terminal MA Placement Records

PhD Placement Records

“Life Advice” for Grad Students

More “Life Advice” for Grad Students

J. Requests a Post.

And I’ve been looking for an excuse to reproduce this poem. So here it is. You’ll have to pardon its abrupt introduction.

Do not make things too easy.
There are rocks and abysses in the mind
As well as meadows.
There are things knotty and hard: intractable.
Do not talk to me of love and understanding.
I am sick of blandishments.
I want the rock to be met by a rock.
If I am vile, and behave hideously,
Do not tell me it was just a misunderstanding.
-Martha Baird

I mean, of course…

…I’m a fan of the humanities. And of course you can claim that I have a self-serving bias going on when I say as much. But allow me to provide a statement on behalf of the humanities nonetheless:

It’s not just cutting humanities that I see as cause for alarm, but privileging a certain type of science education over the work of the humanities. “Scientific literacy” pops up in op-eds off and on, and you see liberal arts colleges starting initiatives to strengthen students’ training in science. But scientific literacy usually gets defined in these discussions as training in the methods and “facts” of the sciences. There’s nothing wrong with that type of study, but it’s incomplete if our goal is scientific literacy. True scientific literacy has to come from learning to look at the sciences from a humanistic and social-scientific perspective as well, and to be able to contextualize and critically evaluate the scientific data reported in the media. It’s amazing how quickly that data can become part of our identities. I notice this all the time with, for instance, evolutionary psychology, which certainly has a strong popular presence. Students will come into my class and refer to whichever is the latest evolutionary psychology study that proves that gender differences are fundamental, or that we humans all have certain evolved behaviors that we can’t fight with laws and social apparatus. They don’t necessarily know that they can and should critically evaluate such studies before deciding whether or not to use them to determine what they believe about themselves and how to conduct themselves.

from 3:AM Magazine’s interview with Cecelia Watson

New Favorite Hymns

I spent the fall singing (and playing) from Lift Up Your Hearts, and I discovered a some new favorite hymns along the way. For instance, this piece, which is sung to the Divinum Mysterium. The text is based on an anonymous Chinese poem.

In a deep, unbounded darkness” by Mary Louise Bringle (Stanzas 1-2)

In a deep, unbounded darkness/long before the first light shone,/you, O God, beyond all merit,/worked a wonder faith makes known:/in your mercy, in your mercy,/you embraced us as your own/evermore and evermore.

Though our world is ever-changing,/you are constant, firm, and sure,/faithful to your covenant promise./Trusting you, we live, secure:/singing praises, singing praises,/long as heart and breath endure,/evermore and evermore.


Quotable Notes

I’m going over various notes right now, typing things up for a friend, and I’m turning up some great quotes. Some are serious. There are also some inside jokes, like “Flee women and bishops.” But in honor of a funny quote related to utilitarianism – “We should make bumper stickers that say, ‘Jesus would push the fat man,” I bring you this happy bit of satire: