Volume 1, Issue 1 | Spring 2013
Peripateo the Swarthmore College Journal of Christian Discourse
THE MESSY THEOLOGY OF JUSTICE
Hana Lehmann discusses the intersection of identity and justice (5)
also in this issue : Joyce Tompkins wrestles with the word “religion” (32) Nick Palazzolo talks about friendship and greater love (14)
A Letter from the Editor Dear Reader, Everyone at Swarthmore has an opinion about God. Some have thought carefully and others have not. Unless you are involved in religious life on campus, you might never know that a discourse about God existed at Swarthmore. Yet, what one thinks about God undergirds every important decision a person makes. Whether consciously or unconsciously, it informs our ideology. Our beliefs about God are an intrinsic part of our most fundamental theories of person, community, love, knowledge, and truth. It is the foundation of how we conduct ourselves in relationship to others. Religion is both a piece of a deep faith and set of philosophical principles that determine the direction of one’s life. It shapes what they strive for, desire, and envision. It is the framework that shapes our thoughts, values, and lives. We, the staff of Peripateo, are followers of Jesus, or more colloquially, Christians. We believe that God revealed Himself to us in the figure of Jesus, who through His life, death, and resurrection demonstrated His unfailing love for us. In His resurrection, death moves backwards, disrupting the momentum of destruction, oppression, and finality in the world. We come from many different denominations of faith, but we as a journal staff are united, believing that Christianity is just as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. From that belief, we endeavor to articulate Christian perspectives in the academic community. We aspire to think critically, struggle with, and find hope in ideas of faith, reason, and truth. We believe that faith and reason are not in opposition, but work in concert. Neither faith nor reason suffice to understand reality. Instead, they work together to reveal truth and wisdom. Swarthmore College is founded on the belief that ideas have the power to transform individuals and our world. Similarly, Romans 12:2 says, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” In this journal, we invite you to connect thinking with doing. We ask you to read with an openness that lets ideas and words affect the soul. Peripateo is a Greek word meaning “to walk around in.” Figuratively, it refers to the walk of life or the way we conduct ourselves. Maybe some of you will take it literally, and actually take a walk with these ideas as Aristotle did when he was teaching. Selah is a Hebrew word that translates into a “pause” like a breath mark, “stop, and listen,” or “pause, and think of that.” We chose both the ideas of walking and pausing to illustrate the inseparable pieces of learning and growth. We engage with ideas about God by wrestling with them and trying them out. Then, it is time to rest and reflect deeply. The Peripateo staff, as a group of seekers, invites you to walk and sit with them in search of truth and authenticity. In this inaugural issue, we invite you to take a walk through “The Messy Theology of Justice” as we discuss the intersection of identity and justice; “Is Religion a Bad Word?,” a piece that reflects on the etymology of the word “religion;” “Called to Friendship,” a conversation that draws on Aristotle and biblical scripture to discuss the power of radical friendship; and “Grasping for Grace,” a conversation about the place of mystery and the sublime in the realms of faith and education. Join with us as we walk and rest in these ideas. Hana Lehmann Editor-in-Chief Photo by Sam Gutierrez.
1 | Letter from the Editor
IN THIS ISSUE Love Your Neighbor as Yourself 3
Essays & Ar ticles
the Swarthmore College Journal of Christian Discourse
by Christina Keller
The Messy Theology of Justice 5 by Hana Lehmann
Called to Friendship 14
Hana Lehmann ‘13 Maisie WiltshireGordon ‘13 Yared Portillo ‘15 Sonja Spoo ‘13 Michael Superdock ‘15 Tiffany Barron ‘13 Josh Satre ‘13 Nathanael Lo ‘13 Nathan Scalise ‘16 Roy Walker ‘16 Sam Gutierrez ‘15
by Nick Palazzolo
Created to Serve: The Telos of 21 Work by Josh Satre
Grasping for Grace 24 by Danielle Charette
The Stranger : Christianity and 26 the Immigrant Story by Yared Portillo
Is Religion A Bad Word? 32 by Joyce Ulrich Tompkins by Ben Goossen
Ar t & Poetry
by Michael Superdock
Feet 13 by Maisie Wiltshire-Gordon
by Josh Gregory
Beautiful Things 17 by Maisie Wiltshire-Gordon Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱέ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν.
Who We Are
by Dina Zingaro
Peripateo seeks to reconcile faith and academia by
engaging religious issues through an intellectual
by John Sun
lens. We believe that the message of Jesus Christ has powerful implications for our daily lives and
the world at large. We aim to fuse creativity and
by Zoë Wray
intellectualism in this journal to invite readers into
At Cana 38
a thoughtful discourse: what role does God play
by Nathanael Lo by Aurora Camacho de Schmidt
More Than Words 34 by Tiffany Barron
Aurora Camacho de Schmidt Danielle Charette ‘14 Ben Goossen ‘13 Josh Gregory ‘15 Christina Keller ‘14 Nick Palazzolo ‘13 John Sun ‘16 Joyce Ulrich Tompkins Zoë Wray ‘16 Dina Zingaro ‘13
A Wager on Meaning 11
Design Manager Co-Business Manager Co-Business Manager Editor Editor Poetry Editor Copy Editor Business Photographer
Swar thmore and Quakerism 36 Hand 13
Editor-in-Chief Executive Editor
in our lives? What are the ways that a Christian
perspective both compliments and complicates an academic one?
Contact us at email@example.com
Swarthmore Peripateo | 2
Love Your Neighbor as Yourself by Christina Keller
I want to ask you all to do something before reading ever, what drew me personally to Christ and to identifying myself this article. I want you to sit down in a comfortable chair—the as a Christian was not peer pressure or the pressure from my family, ones in Underhill Library are the first to come to mind—place but rather the beauty of following a man who said over and over in all of your books and notebooks on the table next to you, sit with the Gospels that the two greatest commands are to: 1) Love God your legs crossed or folded up under you, and breathe. For fifteen and 2) Love Your Neighbor as Yourself1. I was drawn to a religion minutes, I want you to sit and breathe and feel the air coming in based around love and a God who says that heaven belongs to and out of your body. Whether it’s in the quiet of your dorm room those who serve and love those who are hungry, naked, thirsty, or in or the loudness of McCabe first floor in the evening, I want you prison2. I wanted to serve a man who said, ever so clearly, that the to be still for fifteen minutes. I want you to take some time to just first shall be last and the last shall be first3. At the core of my faith love yourself. was the idea that life is made for serving and loving others, and Now that you are hopefully a little calmer, a little more at peace that by serving and loving others, I was serving and loving God. than you were at the beginning of this article, I would like to share Thus, when it came time to apply to college I looked for an a story with you. Last fall, for institution that was not necesa period of about two months, sarily Christian, but at the very I thought I was worthless. Has least grounded in the belief that Swarthmore needs a culture of wellness, that thought ever occurred to social justice matters. I looked wholeness, and self-care, a culture that says you? It’s a thought that comes for a school where I would have it’s okay to not do everything, to forgive creeping into your head when plenty of opportunities to serve you least expect it: maybe you others and possibly apply this yourself for mistakes, to take a break from don’t matter that much, your service to my studies. I decided stress and just breathe. life doesn’t amount to much, to apply to Swarthmore early and nobody would really miss decision because in every guideyou if you were gone. I thought book and admissions pamphlet that thought countless times last fall as I watched everyone look I read I saw that social justice was a concept that really mattered to like they were doing life so much better than I was doing it. My students, and that the school provided plenty of funding for service grandmother died in September, and at first, I thought I was just and activist groups on campus, as well as internships and projects. I sad because I missed her. But as weeks passed and I began to find it felt that I would be able to pursue a life centered around loving my hard to get out of bed, I realized maybe there was something more neighbor, even if such love was not explicitly labeled “Christian.” going on in my head. I went to a counselor and talked to her about Flash forward to this past fall. By this time, I had become very the problems I had with my family, how I was so overwhelmed much immersed in the culture of social justice, service, and activby all of the work I had at Swat and was struggling to cope with ism at Swat. I was tutoring twice a week in Chester, volunteering at everything. While she was a wonderful listener, I still felt weighted the Student Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia (SREdown and inadequate. HUP) overnight once a week, helping organize service activities I have always been a Christian. My father is a Lutheran pastor through Swarthmore Christian Fellowship (SCF) and Swarthin Minnesota, and before my older sister was born my mom was as more Progressive Christians (SPC), and working at Chester’s Cowell. I grew up going to church every Sunday, to choir practice, and op. Every second I wasn’t spending on classes or work-study, I was later on, confirmation, every Wednesday. Eventually, I went to and trying to spend on serving others as best as I could. I was trying, graduated from a Christian high school. My life was steeped in the even when I felt worthless and inadequate, to love my neighbor. discourse and culture of American Protestant Christianity. HowBut what I missed through all of these formalized roles and
3 | Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
responsibilities of serving was the second part of Jesus’ command for our lives. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I was loving my neighbor as best as I could, but I was hardly loving them as I loved myself. In fact, I wasn’t really loving myself at all. I wasn’t eating well, getting enough sleep, taking breaks, going out, or even forgiving myself for mistakes. Rather I was verbally beating myself up, feeling like nothing I ever did was good enough. I was never truly open or present to anyone because I was too caught up with dislik-
There’s a Creator who made us just as we are, and who loves us a thousand times more than we could ever love ourselves. And unlike us, He’s never doubted that once. ing myself. Such thoughts and attitudes toward myself in a sense consumed me. While I was helping my neighbor, I wasn’t truly loving them with my whole heart: I was too busy hating myself. It wasn’t until I left the Swat bubble and went abroad this semester that I realized how far I was from understanding Jesus’ instruction. A question for you, readers: would you ever deprive a random stranger or your best friend of sleep? Would you make them skip meals or tell them it’s a good idea to stress eat? Would you tell them to always do work and never take a break? Would you stop them from exercising or even just taking a shower at night? Would you decide never to forgive them for even the smallest of mistakes? Would you tell them they don’t amount to much, their lives are worthless, and why even bother trying, everyone is better than them anyway? Is that how you would treat a friend or neighbor? If not, then why is that how we so often treat ourselves? If we wouldn’t deprive a neighbor of sleep, why do we deprive ourselves of it? If we wouldn’t tell our neighbor not to take a break from work and relax, why do we tell ourselves that? If we wouldn’t tell our neighbors to constantly compare their lives to everyone else’s and feel inadequate by doing so, why do we, ourselves, do that? If we would never tell someone, a complete stranger even, that they are worthless, why do even dare tell that to ourselves? It feels so easy to fall into this kind of pattern at Swarthmore, where you try as hard as you can to love others, but, at the same time, completely fail at loving yourself. It is easy at Swarthmore to get caught up in the stresses and business of everyday life and think that everyone around you is smarter, healthier, or more successful than you are and that maybe you actually were the admissions’ mistake. It is so incredibly easy to not let yourself get enough sleep, to feel guilty for taking a break from doing work, to stress eat ice cream by the gallon or not eat at all, and to put your friends’ or group’s well-being before your own. But to lead such a life does not allow us to fully love others. I think that Jesus said we should love our neighbors as ourselves for a reason. He wants us to love ourselves. He wants us not to necessarily think that our lives are better than that of anyone else’s, but rather to think that our lives our equal to theirs. That our lives and our neighbor’s lives matter just as
much as the other. This does not mean we should live selfishly or be conceited about who we are. To love yourself does not mean going out and buying a Ferrari or mansion or telling everyone you’re the best thing ever. It means to treat yourself simply with the same respect you would give to a neighbor, to acknowledge that you, like they, are merely human. It is through my time in a small town on a mountain in Costa Rica, away from Swarthmore, that I have begun to realize this. Having time to get enough sleep, eat three meals a day, run, shower, and simply breathe has left me with more love and patience for my first grade students than I ever had with any of the kids I tutored in Chester in the past. I find myself more present in what is going on around me, as I am not preoccupied thinking about how much work I have to do or how I am not doing anything well enough. I find myself laughing at more jokes, noticing more birds, and giving more hugs, as I feel like my life has value and that I am not entirely worthless. Granted, everything is not puppies and rainbows (though there are a lot of both here) but my disposition and temperament are much better now that I have truly begun to take time for myself. My time abroad has made me realize that back at Swarthmore, we decidedly have a culture of social justice and activism that, if embraced, can truly help us to love our neighbors. But having a culture like this isn’t enough. Swarthmore also needs a second kind of culture: a culture of wellness, wholeness, and self-care; a culture that says it’s okay to not do everything, to forgive yourself for mistakes, to take a break from stress and just breathe. As we let go of anxiety and learn to relax, we’ll be better able to love ourselves, and thus love our neighbor. We’ll be full of renewed life and energy that makes helping our best friend late at night or a stranger on the street a welcome opportunity, and not a burden. We’ll have a love welling up inside of us that we can’t help but spread. Rather than being a source of stress, anxiety, and self-doubt, life will become something to share and celebrate. We won’t have any sort of hate hidden in our hearts, only love. Even more importantly, by having a culture that allows us to forgive and love ourselves, our hearts will be open to the radical thought that there’s a Creator who made us just as we are, and who loves us a thousand times more than we could ever love ourselves. And, unlike us, He’s never doubted that once. r (Endnotes) 1 Matthew 19:19, Matthew 22:39, Luke 10:25-28, Mark 12:31, Mark 12:33 2 Matthew 25 3 Matthew 20:16
Christina Keller ‘14 Christina is from Shoreview, Minnesota and is special majoring in Education and Sociology/Anthropology. Her dream is to find out how to get to Sesame Street. You can find more of her writing at: http:// thequirkinessoftheurbanlandscape.wordpress.com/.
Swarthmore Peripateo | 4
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins. For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break for th like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear ; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer ; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
5 | The Messy Theology of Justice
THE MESSY THEOLOGY OF JUSTICE By Hana Lehmann
“Social justice” is a buzzword on our campus. In fact, for many of us, it was a primary reason why we came to this school. I love this about Swat. Every day, I have conversations about uprooting injustice that are more passionate, intentional, and loving than I have experienced anywhere else. The catch is that sometimes we become enamored with justice only as an idea. In reality, the work of justice is messy, selfsacrificing, and arduous, yet it is a work that is integral to our identity as human beings. I understand this theology best through my own experiences. When I was a kid, hearing that God loved me brought me immense feelings of gratefulness and filled my soul with joy. However, during high school,
the sentiment began to seem banal. I heard “Jesus loves you” at every sermon—but it was frustrating not to see any response to this radical statement outside the four walls of our downtown, orange-brick church, a community planted in the center of undeniable need. Richard Twiss, a member of the Rosebud Lakota Sioux community where I lived as a child, says that “there is no biblical basis that would allow us to disengage from one another or disregard our need for one another.”1 In other words, the connection between human beings is like that of a body. If we disregard those who are poor2 it is like cutting out our heart, or eyes, or tongue.3 (continued on next page)
Swarthmore Peripateo | 6
My internal spiritual tension can be summed up in these lyrics based on Isaiah 58:6-10: Are my praises so loud that they drown out the cries? Do I fail to stoop down ‘cause my hands are raised so high? Are my eyes shut so tight when I pray I won’t see? Am I worshipping God for only me?
my identity and the need I was seeing in the world. I found a few answers during the summer after freshman year. I was studying the Old Testament, which at first glance seems to give God a pretty bad name: angry, violent, and rigid. But this time I saw something different: the truth is that God’s heart aches for the poor. In Exodus, God hears the cries of His people enslaved by the Egyptian empire—and then He acts compassionately, freeing the Jews from their bondage through the common man, Moses. In Isaiah, the purpose that God calls us to is this:
Devotion and worship always seem to point back to me, This is what “worship” means to God, to rid to the self, to the human. These lyrics embody a common secu…to loose the chains of injusthe world of all that speaks oppression lar critique most notably made tice and untie the cords of the and death. by religious theorists like Weyoke, to set the oppressed free ber4, Durkheim5, and Feuerand break every yoke… then bach:6 God is nothing more than man’s projection of himself for your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become his own needs. This is what worship (of anything or any deity) like the noonday.9 becomes if there is not an integrated response of justice. A few years later, I entered college disappointed with the This is what “worship” means to God, to rid the world of all Church7 I knew. This love was missing the response of justice. God, that speaks oppression and death. This is the meaning of resurrecthe Creator of the universe, must have in mind something much tion. Jesus, through His death and resurrection, took the weight bigger. Christianity seemed to be all word and no deed.8 of sin upon Himself as an act of love, an act that made death move I had hoped to find Swarthmore to be less like my old church, backwards, an act that turned the most rigid finality known to man but instead found it to be similar; a place with a lot of word and into the dawn of a new morning. According to this picture of God, little deed. This is unsurprising since Swarthmore is a college, a justice is an integral part of our identity as human beings. In the place characterized by intellect and critical examination. But even beginning, God created us in His image.10 If God is love, and love as my head was swimming with new ideas, I still felt a longing for and justice go hand in hand, then He is a God of justice and our grounded purpose and direction in my work. The phrase “I want to created purpose is in service of justice. As the poet Wendell Berry help people” was becoming ever so stale in the back of my throat. I put it, we must “practice resurrection:” needed a theology of justice, something to help me make sense of
The three pictures in this story and the cover picture depict the mural “Finding Home” by Kathryn Pennepacker and Josh Sarantitis. The mural is found on 21 S. 13th St. in Philadelphia. It paints an image of the many hands, from every walk of life, required for a full picture of restoration.
7 | The Messy Theology of Justice
So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute. Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing. Take all that you have and be poor. Love someone who does not deserve it. Denounce the government and embrace the flag. Hope to live in that free republic for which it stands. Give your approval to all you cannot understand. Praise ignorance, for what man has not encountered he has not destroyed. … Practice resurrection.11 Love is not about the show and discipline of religious habits, but about the raw, arduous, and messy everyday work of justice. Jesus uses the phrase the “Kingdom of God” to describe the space and place where justice reigns, where relationships are righted, where we find shalom. This kingdom exists in resistance to the oppressive empires of the world. The problem is that many people, both those who believe in Jesus and those who do not, spend their lives waiting for the end times when things will be right in the world, instead of acknowledging through action that the “Kingdom” or a new order is possible here and now. Once, a mentor figure shared a metaphor for the Kingdom of God with me. “Have you ever been camping?” he asked. “When it rains, the tarp always fills with water and creates a bulge in the tent or tarp fabric. But if you ever touch the bulge, that small act breaks the surface tension of the water droplets and creates a path for the water to follow.
Soon, you’ll have a full leak between the inside and the outside of your tent.” This is how the Kingdom of God behaves. For me, the Kingdom of God is not something that we are waiting for at the end times, but something that exists here and now. It is bulging into the world, just waiting for someone to reach out to its goodness and create a path. This work is not a (wo)man acting as an individual unit, but a work that is undergirded by the power of God. With this knowledge, I am empowered to act in the now, working towards a larger idea of Justice than I could have imagined on my own. Injustice and suffering even make God’s heart ache. So, I ask myself, what does my heart ache for? What injustice in the world actually makes me sick? For me, the answer was mass incarceration, specifically, the school-to-prison pipeline.12 My heart literally felt heavy for these people, like it was going to fall through my stomach and to my feet. The horrors of this systemic caging of human beings shared with me by my incarcerated classmates in our Inside-Out course,13 Politics of Punishment, floored me. Some background statistics horrified me: America incarcerates its population more than any other nation in the world. Currently, 2.3 million people are incarcerated, making up 1% of the general population.14 1 in 3 Black males are currently in prison, on parole, or on probation. 15 This is mainly due to powerful political rhetoric associated with the War on Drugs, failing urban schools, dilapidated local economies, and unjust sentencing laws; this really is “the New Jim Crow,” as Michelle Alexander coined it.16 The criminal justice system focuses too heavily on retribution and not enough on rehabilitation. This is death.
Swarthmore Peripateo | 8
How can I practice resurrection in the face of this birdcage of am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that systemic issues? Well, I’m beginning with writing a massive the- reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, sis about the class we did in the prison and resultant prospects “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for justice and equality. The course created the space for identity for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body transformation from a criminalized identity of deficiency to an were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole expanded identity of possibility. It provided a space where both body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact types of students could come together to work towards restora- God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he tion in the systemic problems of mass incarceration and the prison wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the industrial complex. Maybe these words will prove helpful in bol- body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. stering a new Inside-Out course. Perhaps they will change the way 4 For more information see Protestant Work Ethic and the Rise of some people in power underCapitalism by Max Weber. stand crime in a more positive 5 For more information see ElLove is not about the show and discipline light. The process has given me ementary Forms of Religious Life of religious habits, but about the raw, the space to stumble through by Emile Durkheim. my own blind spots, pride, and 6 For more information see The arduous, and messy everyday work of jusprejudices. Honestly, I am not Essence of Christianity by Ludtice. certain whether my very small wig Feuerbach. contribution will make much of 7 There is a important, but suban impact if any. Even as I write this, I grow a little anxious and tle difference between “Church” and “church.” When it is capitaldiscouraged about the sheer monstrosity of suffering, inequality, ized, I am referring to the God’s people as a whole and when I say and dehumanization in our world. Humans can do so much, but “church,” I am referring to the social organizations. at the end of the day humans can only do so much. As little as I 8 This is a major atheistic critique of religion that clearly resonates know about God, I do know that God is already at work. Jesus is with me. It is very easy to conflate scripture, faith, church, conGod made man, a God who, out of radical love, chose to enmesh servatism, and religion. Here I am critiquing many “comfortable Himself in our messy, broken, suffering, and fleshy world with his churches” that I have been a part of, not faith, scripture, God, or the own hands. I think that this is what restoration looks like: it’s about larger concept of the Church. becoming enmeshed in messy, difficult, and corrupt spaces with a 9 Excerpt from Isaiah 58. vision of lasting change no matter how long it takes. Martin Lu- 10 Genesis 1:27: So God created mankind in his own image, in the ther King Jr., a man of incredible faith, says it best: image of God he created them. 11 “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front,” a poem by “I have not lost faith. I’m not in despair, because I know that Wendell Berry. there is a moral order. I haven’t lost faith, because the arc of the 12 The school-to-prison pipeline generally refers to the school moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice…’No lie can policies and practices that contribute to the alarming rate at which live forever.’” “at-risk” students in underserved areas are being pushed out of school and funneled into the juvenile and criminal justice system. Throughout this process I’ve come to realize that the work of 13 The Inside-Out program brings together outside students (e.g. justice is messy, self-sacrificing, and arduous. My current challenge traditional college students) and inside students (e.g. people who is not that I finish my senior thesis, but that I recommit to step- are incarcerated) to have class together in a correctional facility. ping into the next part of my role in restoration. It’s a question I 14 1 in 100 Pew Research Report 2008. must ask for the rest of my life: how will you respond today? Some 15 “African American Youth and the Juvenile Court System,” Codays, I honestly fear this and see this call as a curse, rather than a alition for Juvenile Justice. Washington, DC, www.juvjustice.org. blessing. Yet, simultaneously, working towards justice is taking a 16 The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. step into the arc of God’s work that he has already begun, into my fullest purpose as a human being. I will not despair. r
Hana Lehmann ‘13 (Endnotes) 1 One Church, Many Tribes by Richard Twiss. 2 I realize that using the phrase “the poor” can be objectifying, but in this case I define it as any person or group who has been denied equality or worth in any respect and those who have bore oppression. 3 1 Corinthians 12:15: 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I
9 | The Messy Theology of Justice
Hana is from Rapid City, South Dakota and is completing a special major in Political Science and Educational Studies with a focus on the school-to-prison pipeline and a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies. She likes to dabble in rock cello, motorcycles, and extraordinarily hot Indian cooking.
A Wager on Meaning by Aurora Camacho de Schmidt
I was not yet an adolescent when my parents took me not take heart in the many students who work hard and trust their to the church of Jesus, Lord of Mercy in my father’s birthplace, in own efforts to close the distance between a less-than-perfect high the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. On a wall in the surrounding gar- school preparation, and the beautiful dreams they and their parents den, as is frequently the case in my country, people had placed tes- share for their college accomplishments. Who could not rejoice in timonials for favors they had received. A white carved stone near the work the college has done in Chester, with the choir and the the ceiling read: “Nos acogimos a tu misericordia y fuimos oídos”, arts’ school, or in the many Swarthmore students, faculty, and staff “We appealed to your mercy and you listened to us.” The signing who oppose war and all violence? I am nurtured by the reverence name was my grandfather’s, Everardo Camacho. I did not know so many colleagues feel toward the work they do and the universe the cause for such an intense prayer and thanksgiving, but I felt a they study. My community, and therefore my experience of God, bolt going through my body, fusing me to the ground. I knew then extends to friends new and old, alive and dead, far and near, in that I was part of a love that claimed me. I was part of a long chain different countries and different languages, professing different beof parents and children going back in time, and part of a human liefs. I welcome their witness because I come to faith not out of fellowship covering the entire world. I knew that whatever I did in satiety, but a deep hunger; not out of victory, but need; not because my life, somehow I would have to respond to that flashing light. the road is already traveled and secured, but because it is hard and When Yared Portillo asked lonely sometimes. me for a short article about my There have been moments I welcome their witness because I come to faith for her Christian group’s in my life when the presence of publication, I thought I would the holy that I perceived dimly faith not out of satiety, but a deep hunger; write about the reasons why I as a child reappears as if to renot out of victory, but need; not because remain a Catholic after one of mind me that we are connected the road is already traveled and secured, the most dramatic turmoils in to something awesome. Let me Church history; why I am still share some memories. In 1981 but because it is hard and lonely somepart of a world community that my husband, a historian who times. persistently denies women’s studies Latin America, spent equality and opposes freedom some time in Honduras, in the of theological inquiry, not to mention a Church whose representa- Salvadoran refugee camps that housed people who had crossed the tives have betrayed their Founder’s teachings in abhorrent ways. Río Lempa fleeing enemy fire. There, he met many people, includInstead, I find myself wishing to speak about what matters to me ing some from one of the many Christian Base Communities that most powerfully. That is where I find my own conversation with bound poor people who hoped for a new life and worked for it. God—broken, intermittent, insufficient on my part, but thrilling. The refugee camps were bare, understaffed, plagued with difficulI find the face of God, first of all, in my family—the one that ties for the refugees. But after a few days, as he was ready to return produced me, and the one that my husband and I raised in two home, people were grateful for his visit, and gave him embroidered languages and two countries. Second, I find God in my commu- napkins depicting their river crossing, the camps themselves, and nity, sometimes in complex ways. That community is the college, at many flowers. They also embroidered messages full of hope. An old times the most marvelous collection of people searching for new woman came out of her tent and summoned the full community understandings, daring in their research or creative arts, contrib- to join her in prayer. For the visitor, my husband, that prayer was uting constantly to shape the best environment for learning and the deepest, strongest, most sincere he had ever heard. Many times growing; and at other times seemingly cold, intolerant, uninter- afterwards we joined that woman in our imagination, through the ested. Always in process, we walk a difficult road. But who could distance, wishing to be part of her trust and hope. I had never met
11 | A Wager on Meaning
This image of la Virgen de Guadalupe, our Lady of Guadalupe, hangs in the Language Resource Center in Kohlberg. It was made by Paty Gutierrez ‘15, Paola Monseratt Mero ‘14, Josselyn Tufino ‘14 and Emma Waitzman ‘14 as part of a class taught by Aurora called “Mexican Pennsylvania”. The students used images of la Virgen to create a collage that would display the significance of la Virgen in immigrant and migrant communities. They focused on four aspects: the church’s role in building community, how it aids organization for immigrants rights, the role of la Virgen in Mexican culture and community, and Las Posadas’ importance in culture.
her, but she had let us see the face of God. In 1998, Haverford historian Jim Krippner and I took a group of twelve Tri-Co students to Chiapas, the site of the Zapatista indigenous insurrection, as part of a Peace Program during spring vacation. In preparation for that, I also traveled there in December of 1997, days after a notorious massacre of 45 men, women, and children in the mountain hamlet of Acteal. When I arrived in the city of San Cristóbal, some sixty miles away from the site, I found soldiers and international journalists everywhere. The people were still under the effect of that horror. Soon the community announced that there would be a mass at the site of the massacre, located in a ravine to one side of the main road. I took a bus and then started walking when the traffic could move no more. I joined hundreds of people walking from the nearby villages. Many women carried a baby on their backs and held a little one by the hand, while in the other hand they held a brick. The people had decided to bring bricks to mass as a symbol of the reconstruction of their community. When the mass began in the open air, Fr. Michael Chanteau announced the gospel in the Tzotzil language. Afterwards each member of the community deposited the brick by the altar. Some people had brought white flowers, and they placed them on the ground. Beyond, one could still see the woods littered with sandals and children’s clothing. All this happened in absolute silence, on a foggy and wet day, in the peaks of the Sierra. But there was a communion there, and God had invited me to be a witness. I have been amazed by the faith of Mexican immigrants in the Church of San Roque in Avondale, 50 minutes away from our college. Just last February, on the holiday called “La Cande-
laria,” or the feast of candles, families filled the large nave with young children all dressed-up, and scores of them took flowers to the altar of our Lady of Guadalupe, the Indigenous representation of Virgin Mary and a strong presence in my religious practice since childhood. I find God in poetry, or maybe I should say that God finds me there. That does not happen simply either. To write or read a poem is always a wager on meaning, and sometimes the experiment fails. But like the experiences I have described, the poem can also be a form of awakening, and sometimes it points to awakenings that have not happened yet but are there to be grasped later on. I write this brief account in Eastertime and at a moment when all the trees that were dry and hard a week ago are bursting with blossoms in purple, pink, and white all over campus. I am about to leave the college and start a new stage in life, retirement, which in Spanish is called “jubilación” or gladness. I give thanks for the blessings. r
Aurora Camacho de Schmidt Aurora was born in Mexico City, where she studied Philosophy at Universidad Iberoamericana. She is about to retire after 21 years of work in the College, where she has taught Latin American literature and Spanish. She is a translator and poet, and writes about the connections between social movements and literature.
Swarthmore Peripateo | 12
Create in me a clean hear t, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:10-12, ESV)
by Michael Superdock
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God
by Maisie Wiltshire-Gordon
13 | Hand & Feet
Called to Friendship by Nick Palazzolo
In Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, the ship and Jesus’ spiritual friendship. With love and effort, we may fox asks the little prince to “tame” him, to which the little prince establish ties with people and with God until we can no longer replies, “I want to, very much. But I have not much time. I have imagine living without them. friends to discover, and a great many things to understand.” The The fox, quoted above, calls attention to the commercialization fox tells him, “One only understands the things that one tames. of friendship in a world where humans expect to buy and invest in Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things everything they want. But of course, friendship cannot be bought. all readymade at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where In approaching social relationships as an investment, we replace one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If trust, intimacy, love, and commitment with “mutual satisfaction of you want a friend, tame me…”1 “To tame,” the fox explains means individual interests.”3 Aristotle characterizes these kinds of rela“to establish ties.” The English translation has a connotation of tionships as friendships of utility, where those involved seek gain dominance and control that is misleading. The original French, ap- for themselves. He also discusses friendships of pleasure, where privoiser, has a more loving and reciprocal meaning. When the fox those involved seek enjoyment and physical satisfaction.4 He does asks the little prince to tame him, he is referring to a process of not denigrate pleasure entirely because he believes that companbuilding friendship that unfolds with time, effort, patience, grati- ion friends experience a pleasure that flows from their friendship tude, and love. He tells the prince that he is still like a thousand grounded in each person’s concern and goodwill toward the other. other boys to him but “If you tame me, then we shall need each Reciprocated goodwill is an essential quality for companion other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall friendships. According to Aristotle, “it is those who desire the be unique in all the world.”2 What seemed at first to be a chance good of their friends for their friends’ sake that are most truly encounter between the two becomes a fated friendship full of pur- friends.”5 Their care for one another is neither egotistic nor altrupose and meaning. istic. This common binary of care When I first read The Little I don’t believe that Jesus would dismiss for self or care for other misses Prince, I was overjoyed with the Aristotle’s meaning. It fails to most of the secular and philosophical views capture what it means for comwisdom and truth I found in the story. “Tame” seemed like a on friendship. Rather, He expands on them panion friends to thrive together, strange word to use for friend- by offering us a spiritual friendship with neither exclusively self-interested ship-making, but the language nor other-interested. They grow, of reciprocity, effort, gratitude, Himself. learn, care, and live together. They and sacrifice deeply resonated are interested in both their own with me. This article is about friendship; more specifically it is and their friend’s growth, and they take great pleasure in challengabout human friendship that makes possible moral transformation, ing one another and growing together. Aristotle believes that “noand it is about friendship with God that makes possible spiritual body would choose to live without friends even if he had all the transformation. First, I discuss Aristotle’s thoughts on compan- other good things.”6 He claims further that “a happy man needs ion friendship, and then I show how Jesus’ teachings on spiritual friends.”7 There is something indispensable and incredibly beautifriendship do not dismiss Aristotle’s beliefs but rather embrace ful about friendship. To explore what makes it so desirable and many of them within the story of God. What is it about friendship necessary, I will share my own experiences followed by some modthat challenges us to grow and change, and what kind of friendship ern scholarship on the subject. makes this possible? What does Jesus teach us about friendship My story is about my spiritual journey. After five years in Cathand how does this build on Aristotle’s understanding? Within the olic school, I realized I did not feel close to God. Perhaps my relaframework of Jesus’ teachings, I will share my belief that we are tionship with Him had been superficial and scripted. Perhaps I did called to be in friendship with one another and with God. What not learn how to put effort into my relationship with God. I did the fox teaches the little prince about the importance of effort in enjoy singing in church, performing the life of Jesus at our Christbuilding friendships applies to both Aristotle’s companion friend- mas and Easter plays, and listening to the parables the nuns used to
Swarthmore Peripateo | 14
share with us. But I began to doubt God’s other seriously, including our differences. presence in my life and in a world I saw as Differences between friends can help open broken and full of suffering. Where is God us up to deeper change, if we truly listen. in all this pain and brokenness? Surely Within friendship, good listening env. God does not want us to suffer? A comables us to reach a deeper understanding mon question many of us struggle with. of one another. According to Joseph BeEnter the briar thicket I concluded that I could put my heart in atty, good listening involves the openness writhing with voices; humanity without making God a part of to revise our sense of right and wrong, new words for your name. my life. I never rejected God, but I did the capacity to empathize with the other ignore His presence. Without the scripts without reproducing the same prejudgand Catholic masses, I did not know how ments in ourselves, and the humility to by Josh Gregory ‘15 to put effort into knowing God and so I revise our view of both self and other.10 had become distanced from Him. The listener must make a decision to really When I came to college, I met a friend reconsider and rework her own views, thus who introduced me to something called good listening makes possible transformasmall group, where students study the Bible to understand and ap- tion of character but does not require it. It brings us to understand ply God’s Word to their lives. Never before did I know Christians ourselves and the other in our full complexity while showing us who were so active and eager in their relationship with God. I was that they may not be who we thought they were and that we may never taught to engage with the Bible in order to know God for not be who we thought we were. myself, to listen to His whispers and cries in my own life. I grew I don’t believe that Jesus would dismiss most of the secular and close to the friend who introduced me to small group. We shared philosophical views on friendship that I put forth above. Rather, the stories of our lives – our childhoods, families, schools, friend- He expands on them by offering us a spiritual friendship with ships, fears, and hopes. Though we discussed faith at times, many Him. Effort and patience, which we learned from the fox in The of our conversations did not explicitly mention it. Instead I grew to Little Prince, are crucial in cultivating a strong relationship with understand and admire the underlying, foundational role of faith God. Though our companion friends have a “commanding perin her life. We felt comfortable and safe sharing anything with one spective” on our lives, no one knows us better than God but we another. My friendship with her and others in SCF helped me must put effort into building trust with Him just as we do with our to ask what faith and God could mean in my own life. This chal- companion friends. Self-examination and good listening (central lenged me to take a step back from my prior conclusions that I did pieces to companion friendships) are possible when we trust God, not need God, who I had regarded as too distant from our broken but it is sometimes difficult to know what He says and what He world. Having reassessed those conclusions, I began to listen at- wants us to do. tentively to inspiration from God in other areas of my life. This is why faith is not present in the complete and utter abI will soon continue to discuss what Jesus shares with us about sence of doubt. Some kinds of doubt are damaging to our relationspiritual friendship. First, I want to keep my promise and talk ship with God, but some kinds, I believe, are spiritually productive. about the potential for moral transformation in human friendship, When we come to know God intimately through our rebirth in drawing from a neo-Aristotelian understanding. We learn about Christ, which is more than just knowing about Him, we rest in our our(moral)selves, the people we want to become, the dreams we knowledge of God and our salvation through the gift and sacrihope to pursue, and the beliefs that we hold deeply through our fice of His Son, Jesus Christ. We do not doubt this, but this faith ties with the people around us. Within this landscape of human strengthens us to grapple with other doubts in our lives, wrestle connections, close companion friends in particular offer us the pos- with truth, and examine our(moral)selves. sibility for incredible growth and transformation. I use growth to During a conversation at lunch, someone challenged me by askmean a fuller articulation of shared moral values and transforma- ing, “How do you know God? How do you know you are a friend tion to refer to a deeper reworking of character. with God?” I told him about how I discover God through the Bible We are most attentive to and take most seriously our companion and through prayer. I told him that prayer for me is about calling friends because we love them for their unique particularity, echoing on God to help me become who He wants me to be. Though we the words of the fox from The Little Prince. Companion friend- may not see Jesus in the flesh today, I believe that we see the power ship is unique because each has a “commanding perspective” of the of His Spirit at work in the world. I see God in the healing He other through mutual self-disclosure.8 We can examine ourselves brings to my family and in the awareness He brings to me. I think through reflective dialogue with our companion friends because we that the central point is that though God’s friendship is a gift and trust that they will listen without judgment as they understand our an act of grace, it is not one we receive passively. I opened with The motivations, virtues, and vices comprehensively. But we cannot re- Little Prince to frame this discussion around the idea of putting duce our growth or the ways we share and care to intense dialogue. effort into a friendship, because I believe that we are called to pour The mundane everyday conversations, laughter, and storytelling love, effort, and gratitude into our friendship with God when we are important in getting to know one another and building trust.9 receive His gift. Thus a friendship with God is not merely about Shared trust between us and our friends invites us to take one an- hanging out with Jesus on a park bench, because God calls us to
15 | Called to Friendship
more radical and difficult things, to transform ourselves and live radically as Jesus lived. But what does this look like? Jesus embodied a love so radical that He laid down His life for us. Jesus teaches us that “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”11 Aristotle argues that people of good character would sacrifice much for the sake of their friends, including dying for them.12 The little prince tells a rose who has no
Friendship that is strongly characterized by each person’s goodwill toward the other embodies a commitment and love so powerful that laying down one’s life is the supreme expression of that goodwill. friends, “You are beautiful, but you are empty. One could not die for you.”13 Friendship that is strongly characterized by each person’s goodwill toward the other embodies a commitment and love so powerful that laying down one’s life is the supreme expression of that goodwill. Jesus embodies His very own command, “Love each other as I have loved you.”14 Throughout His life, He brought His Father’s loving presence into the world through acts of healing and restoration, especially for the marginalized and the abandoned. This is what He commands us to do, to love one another in a way that brings God’s healing and restoration through care, generous giving, and forgiveness. Jesus tells his disciples, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”15 This is incredible! We are invited to share in God’s knowledge and love as friends of Jesus. Of course, this friendship is different from companion friendships between humans, because we are fallible, whereas Jesus is fully divine. But as the incarnated Word and as God fully human with us, He experiences human emotion and temptation and engages with us as a friend. Now I am ready to explore why God chooses to be our friend. We could think of Him as our Creator and King (and we would not be wrong), but He chooses to be our friend, first in flesh and then forever in spirit, who is always with us. I believe that friendship’s tremendous potential to teach and transform is perhaps one important reason. Friendship is also a choice; true friendship is not coerced. God gives us the choice to be in relationship with Him because it is in His loving nature to do so. It is also an expression of His humility. Our transformation in this spiritual friendship does not pull us out of this world for Jesus brings the power of God’s kingdom here to us. Our friendship with Jesus calls us to engage with and love this world as He did, which is not the same as loving the things of this world. He envisions a community founded in Christ and called to peace, as Paul shares in his letter to the Colossians: “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude
in your hearts.”16 It appears that there is a disagreement between Jesus who calls us all to love one another and Aristotle who believes that we can love only those who are lovable. Aristotle also believes that each of us can only have one or two companion friends because he believes we cannot commit to more than that. Must we try to reconcile Aristotle’s argument that we only love those who are lovable and we may only have one or two companion friends with Jesus’ call for all of us to love one another, including our enemies, as He has loved us? Jesus expands on Aristotle by teaching us that we are radically equal under God, and so, all are lovable. As Jesus begins to prepare to return to His Father, He washes the feet of His Disciples and tells them to do the same with one another.17 Again He loves so radically that He cares even for our dirty, broken selves. Perhaps He could have chosen to remain with His Father, loving us from afar. But He did not; rather, He involved Himself in this dirty, messy, and corrupted world of ours out of love. He wants us to love one another in the same way, as friends and with radical compassion, gentle patience, and generous giving. r (Endnotes) 1 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 59. 2 Ibid., 58. 3 Barry Schwartz, The Cost of Living: How Market Freedom Erodes the Best Things in Life (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1994), 186. 4 Aristotle, Trans. J.A.K. Thomson, The Nichomachean Ethics (New York: Penguin Group, 2004) 1156a. 5 Ibid., 1156b. 6 Ibid., 1155a. 7 Ibid., 1169b. 8 Laurence Thomas, “Friendship and Moral Self-examination,” Living Morally: A Psychology of Moral Character (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989), p.140. 9 Rose Mary Volbrecht, “Friendship: Mutual apprenticeship in moral development,” The Journal of Value Inquiry (Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1990) 24, p.311. 10 Joseph Beatty, “Good Listening.” Educational Theory (University of Illinois: Board of Trustees, 1999) 49(3), p. 286-8. 11 John 15:13 12 Aristotle, The Ethics, 1169a. 13 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 60. 14 John 15:12 15 John 15:15 16 Colossians 3:16 17 John 13: 1-17
Nick Palazzolo ‘13 Nick is from Limerick, Pennsylvania, and is a double major in laughter and repetitive storytelling. He enjoys eating oranges with friends because they are fruits specially designed for sharing.
Swarthmore Peripateo | 16
BEAUTIFUL THINGS 17 | Beautiful Things
by Maisie Wiltshire-Gordon
“While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of ver y expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.’ And they rebuked her harshly. ‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.’” Mark 14: 3-6
It stands out as a story of lavish extravagance against the Gospels’ backdrop of dusty roads, poor fishermen, and harsh tax collectors. The whole bottle of perfume! Just poured out. On its surface, it looks like a pointless act of wastefulness. And Jesus’ disciples do not hesitate to say so: “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” It’s a good point. Life was hard under the Roman occupation, and every day the disciples passed beggars who would have been grateful for some extra coins. But what does Jesus say? “Leave her alone […] She has done a beautiful thing for me.” Jesus saw the pover ty around Him as clearly as any of his disciples. And throughout His ministry, He shows a deep commitment to caring for the poor. But Jesus also sees extraordinary value in the “beautiful thing” the woman has done. Why is this? Where is the value in beautiful things? It is easy to see the impor tance of acts of service. Jesus notices the outcasts of society, makes time for them, and cares for them; He calls us to do the same. But in the effor t to follow Jesus’ example, Christianity often seems to be about simply doing good things. With this focus on usefulness comes a focus on results. We make the usefulness of the act into something about us, something we’re doing, a difference we’re making. But Jesus reminds us here that following Him does not mean only doing good things. It requires recognizing whom we follow. Par t of the value of beautiful things, then, comes from our very awareness of their uselessness. It is vitally impor tant that we engage in acts of service. But these acts need to be reflections of how good God is. Too often we turn them into demonstrations of how good we are—or think we are. When we take away usefulness, though, it frees our acts to be only about God. What would such a useless act look like? The woman in the story offers one possibility: do beautiful things. Or, taken another way: make ar t. Ar t points to something larger than itself. It is comprised of par ts that are wholly unremarkable: poetry is built out of words, which we use everyday; music is made of sound, which constantly surrounds us. But words and sound (and color, and movement) can create a beauty far greater than the sum of their par ts. Through ar tistic expression, they can form a reflection—albeit par tial—of the beauty of God. As God has shown abundant love to us, so He asks us to show abundant love to others. We are called to feed the hungry and care for the sick, to love our neighbor and stand with the oppressed. And this work is critically impor tant; there’s a place for a practical response to Jesus’ teachings and God’s goodness. But there’s also a place for the beautiful response. Let us feed the hungry and care for the sick; let us love our neighbor and stand with the oppressed. But let us not grow distracted by the things we are doing and thus miss what God is doing, or forget what God has done. Psalm 126 says, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Let us express our joy and reflect God’s love. Let us make beautiful things. Photo by Sam Gutierrez.
Swarthmore Peripateo | 18
BEAUTIFUL THINGS In this photography, we strive to re-envision places of function and practicality as places of beauty. Photos by Sam Gutierrez. Pictured: Hana Lehmann and Maisie Wiltshire-Gordon
19 | Beautiful Things
Swarthmore Peripateo | 20
Created to Serve:
The Telos of Work
By Josh Satre
As a senior, I get asked what one of my close friends calls the “Benjamin Braddock question” rather frequently: “What are you going to do after you graduate?” To be perfectly honest, I have no idea. However, regardless of whatever pursuit I take up upon graduation, I know why I will work. I make this distinction because I believe it is more important than what I do, or where I work. Understanding the purpose of work brings meaning to what we do at Swarthmore. Swatties deeply desire to ‘make a difference’ in the world. In order to do this, we must first work. But in the midst of all this work, it can be easy for disillusionment and cynicism to take root; people become frustrated with their work. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is burnout. I believe we often lose sight of the purpose of work, the meaning of work, and the end goal of work. So, in this article, I explore what it means to work. Put simply: why do we work? What is the goal? In order to answer this question, I will borrow and modify Aristotle’s conception of a Telos, or ‘purpose.’ Aristotle’s Telos can be thought of as an ultimate object or aim. This Telos in Aristotle’s view is Eudemonia (flourishing), which Aristotle describes as “the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”1 Although Aristotle frames flourishing as an abstract end, I have taken this concept away from the philosophical and applied it. For me, this flourishing can be achieved through my work. In order to accomplish Eudemonia through work, we must have a goal. Otherwise, work feels meaningless. We must be working towards something. Meaningful work has a vision, a long-run mission. What does this end goal, or Telos, look like? Put simply, it can be expressed as service. There is a dual purpose to work as service: serving other’s needs, and through that, serving a higher aim or ideal. This unique perspective is what is most important to me. I serve not because of some blind adherence to rules, or out of some
21 | Created to Serve
Kantian conception of Duty. I believe that the work I do genuinely serves others, fulfilling the Telos of work, thereby reflecting the image of God. I will illustrate this with a personal example: to many on campus, I am automatically associated with delicious food. Josh = cookies, as it were. But it goes deeper than that. Yes, I can bake cookies. That is one of the many talents God has gifted me with. But ultimately, if I use this talent to only serve myself (baking cookies so that only I can eat them), then it becomes hollow, shallow, and useless. Apart from being terrible for my personal health, eating all the cookies myself gives me little joy. I have to share them and serve others with that gift. My faith is the reason behind my actions and is no small part of why I have used the gift of hospitality to serve others. However, even if people do not understand or share the faith behind my service, people still benefit from my work, and ultimately, this reflects the image of God. It is still of benefit to society too! As Lester DeKoster put it, “Work is the gift of self to the service of others that becomes the fabric of civilization.”2 Interestingly, this service ends up benefitting me in some ways as well, since “civilization is the gift of others to the service of ourselves.”3 These ‘dual pathways’ reinforce the reciprocal nature of work. Both parties give and receive work, creating a positive cycle of service: individuals can use their unique talents in various ways to serve one another. This view frames work in a new way: work is not just an endless sacrifice; it allows everyone to feel intrinsically valuable, by being able to contribute in some way. In what ways can we contribute? How do we best serve? And where? One way of framing the answer to these questions is through contemplating the idea of vocation. Vocation comes from the Latin word vocātiō and means “a call.” As Fredrick Buchner phrased it, “[t]he place where we are called to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” This is where we find meaning: the place where our gifts meet the world’s deepest needs.
While methods of service differ from person to person, because our gifts are different, the service is equally meaningful. For example, people can make important contributions to society through both the arts and through business. But how do we contribute? How do we determine how best to use our gifts? This is done through human creativity. Creativity is a uniquely human trait. Ironically, both Marx4 and
The antidote to these frustrations and burnout that we experience is more than just realizing our work has meaning - it’s also about taking time to pause and rest. Ayn Rand5, ideologically polar opposites, agree that creativity is essential to what makes us human. But this concept is much older than those theorists; it goes back to the beginning of time. Author Andy Crouch6 draws from Genesis the Biblical imagery of gardening where humans cultivate creativity.7 In the context of Swarthmore, we are developing our gifts by figuring out what we can do, and where we can do it through education. We must develop creativity in order to effectively serve. Despite our creativity, the process of work is often frustrating. It often does not feel meaningful, whether it is or not, and the burdens of creative work weigh heavy on our shoulders. We frequently become exhausted, overworked, and burned out. As a student, I recall many times where I sat alone at 2 AM, working on papers or think pieces that only my professor would read, thinking to myself “I can’t do this anymore; I haven’t seen the light of day in a week; Why am I running on caffeine, and not sleeping?” These Ecclesiastical notions of meaninglessness frequently float their way into my brain. Sometimes I feel like it is just not worth persevering. I need to restore a sense of hope and resurrection in my work. In such moments, I find it necessary to maintain the discipline of Sabbath rest, pausing regularly to rest and restore creativity so that I might serve effectively. The antidote to these frustrations and burnout that we experience is more than just realizing our work has meaning – it is also about taking time to pause and rest. I have experienced this rest. After a period of overworking myself at Swarthmore, my friends intervened and encouraged me to take time off and rest. Upon doing so, I discovered that I was more productive, and more engaged in conversation and also in class discussions. When I slept, I could actually stay awake in class. Who knew? Joking aside, I believe this self-discipline of Sabbath rest was created for us by God, enabling us to serve others through work. In rediscovering the value of Sabbath rest, I find that I can serve with more fervor. Through persevering on my assignments and diligently laboring to complete all of my papers, I can glorify God. In the same way, I can serve more directly through my work when volunteering with a local organization through a Community Based Learning (CBL) class, an experience that has been the highlight of both my experiences abroad and my Swarthmore classes. Through all of this, I can serve and live out the Telos of work.
I would like to take a minute to encourage my fellow seniors with words of N.T. Wright, a prolific British theologian and author: “Our work will LAST.”8 It has eternal value. Long after we leave, what we have done here at Swarthmore will remain present, and we will be remembered. Know this: we make an impact beyond what we can see while at Swarthmore (or anywhere really). Our labor has not been in vain. The services we have performed, while often ignored, are what most resonate with others. Even if it is as simple as cookie baking, these actions can still make a difference for someone else. I once had someone thank me for a cookie I had given them weeks before. While I did not remember the act, this person felt encouraged enough to remember weeks later. Personally, I think the work God has done through me will not be in vain. I do believe that God created work for the service of others; this work builds a better world through us. Some questions I would like to leave the reader of this piece: What do you work for? Is it ‘making the world a better place’? If so, why? What do you hope to accomplish through that? Is work ultimately meaningful without a goal? If not, what is the goal of your work? There is no single answer for these questions, but I have found them helpful in thinking through my own life goal: to serve others using the gifts God has given me. r
(Endnotes) 1 Aristotle, Ethics, Bk. 1 Ch. 7. 2 Lester DeKoster, Work: The Meaning Of Your Life, Ch. 7 [some of this article was inspired by his work]. 3 Ibid. 4 For more information, see Capital by Karl Marx sections 23, 469, 474, 481, 484, 547, 614, 615, and 799. These sections discuss the relationship between creativity and alienation. 5 For more information, see The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. The main character is a brilliant architect, and the main theme is human creativity. While I vehemently disagree with Rand’s Objectivism, she does point to creativity as humanity’s greatest strength. 6 Author’s note: Andy is the husband of Catherine Crouch, who teaches Physics here at Swarthmore. 7 For more information see Culture Making by Andy Crouch. 8 N.T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus, 179-180.
Josh Satre ‘13 Joshua is from Hockessin, Delaware and is a special major in SCF Organizing and Cookie Baking. He enjoys crafting fine food and pairing it with delicious beverages, since the telos of both is to be shared with friends.
Swarthmore Peripateo | 22
Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱέ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Repeated again and again, an echo cadencing one’s awareness — a mystical hear tbeat, tempo for thought. Just before dawn the holy apse still in shadow, but She still glows, the Theotokos — this holy mother. Her womb is Πλατυτέρα των Ουρανών,
“more spacious than the heavens.” Devotees, women, file robed into the nave, a procession of black. Bodies worn, given up — no, devoted. At the front, the oldest — cane in the right and komboskini in the left as if armed for battle. She is a walking testimony to sacrifice — a warrior’s body, back arched at a right angle, strained from years of prostration — a humbled body branded by devotion. Like a nervous habit, the komboskini clicks between her fingers, little divots upon flesh bearing individual witness to this life, this battle cry — this uttered supplication: Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱέ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν. This poem is inspired by my fieldwork, living in Buddhist and Greek Orthodox monasteries in Greece and in the US, for my senior thesis in the Religious Studies department. Theotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus and means “God-bearer.” Komboskini is the Greek word for the Eastern Orthodox prayer rope used in prayer and a general tool for religious habits.
by Dina Zingaro ‘13
23 | Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱέ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν.
Grasping for Grace:
The Strangeness and Difficulty of Faith in T.S. Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday”
by Danielle Charette
One of the greatest joys of intellectual life are those eureka moments when an academic idea—be it Walt Whitman’s free verse, a Mandelbrot set, or particular theory of political economy—suddenly makes total and inspiring sense. Not only does the idea illuminate itself, it also illuminates some broad, empowering explanation of the world as it is or ought to be. But these passing revelations are also paradoxes. I find I ask myself, are these moments examples of sheer cerebral will? Or something more mystical and Godly—as if that page, that seminar, that seat in that lecture was Divinely ordained? Instants of intellectual ecstasy are close to what the Romantics meant when they contemplated the Sublime, which Edmund Burke classified as the “strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling.” In this vein, I have recently turned to T.S. Eliot’s poem “Ash Wednesday” as a deeply cerebral but also deeply Christian exploration of this question about the modern academic mind. “Ash Wednesday,” T.S. Eliot’s first long poem after his conversion to Anglicanism in 1927, proved meaningful to me in thinking about this past Lenten season from a literary angle. Lent is a moment of dark transition preceding Christ’s crucifixion, Easter, and man’s salvation. We trust that spring is coming, but seasons and time are a human challenge—in Christianity, life, and literature. Eliot explores this feeling of flux, “wavering between the profit and the loss.” Positioning the poem on a spiral staircase, Eliot’s speaker begins by radically doubting his own redemption. The staircase symbolizes that dizzying feeling of meaningless and unproductive repetition. As students, this fear of endless rhythms and obligations is certainly familiar. From an academic standpoint, we can sense what Eliot’s speaker means when he famously and repeatedly insists this is “because I do not hope to turn again.” A turn would mark a change in perspective and a progressive orientation toward hope. Instead, the speaker opts for a materialist orientation here on earth: Because I know that time is always time And place is always and only place And what is actual is actual only for one time And only for one place I rejoice that things are as they are and I renounce the blessed face (I, 16-21) Of course, the speaker is not actually rejoicing but despairing. Situating himself in one time and place entails renouncing all that is blessed. Now “these wings are no longer wings to fly / But merely
vans to beat the air.” Without wings, there is no transcendence, no salvation. With this in mind, I read Part I of the poem as depicting the radical loss of hope that comes when we rely only on what is earthly and human. Renouncing the “blessed face” is the equivalent of clipping our wings and accepting defeat. As a Christian, particularly during Lent, I came to Eliot in a frame of mind that is fairly receptive to his message. And yet Eliot is a modernist poet—perhaps the modernist poet—not a Christian theologian. He is not a priest or pastor, but a poet. Religion is complicated enough, but now it is confounded by language and symbolism—not to mention Eliot’s own controversial legacy and anti-Semitism. Furthermore, Eliot is a twentieth-century AngloCatholic, while I am a contemporary “Mainline” American Protestant. Insofar as Eliot’s poetic message is Christian, what is the message? How can Christianity illuminate our reading of Eliot? Actually, I would like to invert that question. Eliot illuminates our reading of Christianity precisely because he insists on the faith’s strangeness and difficulty. For instance, one of the central images of “Ash Wednesday” is the utterly bizarre “Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper tree,” who emerges in Part II. As literary legend has it, a Catholic student questioned Eliot and asked, “please, sir, what do you mean by the line, ‘Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper tree’?” To which Eliot dogmatically answered, “I mean, ‘Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper tree.’” Eliot does not want us to easily translate one symbol for another. There is no easy interpretation of “Ash Wednesday.” Like the faithful Christian, the reader must commit herself to the poem’s inexplicable beauty. Indeed, Eliot’s work is infused with Christian meanings, allusions, and graspings for grace. He is also deeply indebted to the Romantics, with “Ash Wednesday” emulating the elegaic tone of poems like Wordsworth’s “Intimations of Immortality.” Eliot’s work is a reminder that the desire to be Christian can be frustrating, sad, and poetic. Everyday life can distract us from our faith to the point that wanting to be Christian replaces actually being Christian. Doubt and distraction creep in, and we tell ourselves we will not “turn again.” And yet, somehow, we do “fly seaward, seaward flying” with our “unbroken wings.” After a great deal of twisting and turning, “Ash Wednesday” doesn’t necessarily end with any earth-shattering revelations, but the speaker reaches a calm resolution: Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still
Swarthmore Peripateo | 24
Even among these rocks Our peace in His will And even among these rocks Sister, mother And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea, Suffer me not to be separated And let my cry come unto Thee. (VI, 29-35) Alluding to Christ’s suffering on the cross, we are reminded, at the very least, not to pursue what is false. As students, we are bound to be forgetful, mistaken, and unavoidably sinful. But to “care and not to care” is also something that God prescribes, so long as we are, ultimately “not to be separated.” We cling to the rocks, even as the water moves us. We situate ourselves in this campus even
though we understand that our four years are fleeting. We must live in the world even as we progress and change and look to a world beyond. Eliot ends in mystery, yet, at the same time, exudes a level of confidence. Confidence in mystery is certainly necessary for Christianity, but it is also needed in education, as we open ourselves to that sublime feeling that comes when we strive to comprehend.
Danielle Charette ‘14 Danielle, from Durham, CT, is an Honors English major with minors in Political Science and Philosophy, where she is involved in various journalism and literary gigs. She may soon make the leap of faith from Congregationalism to Presbyterianism.
by John Sun
Fall. by John Sun. Sharpie on paper, 2013.
We strive for perfection, but we often forget the reality of our condition: we are flawed people, and we are weak. Once we give God complete authority over our lives, we can take on His strength. But we cannot obtain His strength until we recognize our own weakness. We must die to our self-satisfied, comfor table selves, and offer our vulnerabilities to God: He will fill them.
25 | Grasping for Grace
THE STRANGER: CHRISTIANITY AND THE IMMIGRANT STORY by Yared Portillo with help from Helen Plotkin
Images: Protesters in Washington D.C. at the immigration reform rally on April 10, 2013.
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus shares with his disciples: “Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’”1 (continued on next page)
Swarthmore Peripateo | 26
“I was a stranger.” From the Old Testament to the New Testament, the Bible presents a model for how to treat “the stranger.” Based on a Christian reading, this is a model of justice: one of provision, of compassion, and of mercy. But how does the treatment of immigrants2 in the United States compare with this Christian model? By using some examples from Mexican and Latin American immigration, we will look at the contrasts between the actual treatment of immigrants in America and a biblically based Christian model of caring and welcoming the stranger. This is primarily inspired by the commentary on “the stranger” quoted above and by Old Testament commentary on the “sojourner.” Biblical stories of the stranger and the sojourner parallel the current political and social condition of the immigrant now.
When Jesus speaks to the disciples about the stranger his words are, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Who is the stranger? A basic excerpt of the history of Mexican (im)migration3 to the United States In 1907, the United States passed the Gentlemen’s Agreement, which blocked Japanese emigration into the United States, leading to labor shortages. That gap was soon filled by workers brought in from countries south of the United States. When the United States entered World War I, there was again a shortage of labor, leading to an increase in U.S. demand for Mexican labor and the installation of a temporary workers program. When the United States entered World War II, the United States yet again was in need of Mexican labor, which they brought in through the institution of the Bracero Program.4 Time and time again, the foreigner was brought in to fill these labor needs. The workers brought in following the Gentlemen’s Agreement were brought with the promise of high wages, transport and a signing bonus. But those promises often were not met or were manipulated, leaving the workers feeling tricked. Following the recruitment efforts caused by WWI, cross-border migration became a self-sustaining system. However, at the onset of the Great
27 | The Stranger: Christianity and the Immigrant Story
Depression immigrants soon became unwelcome. As a result, from 1929 to 1939, 469,000 Mexicans were forcibly expelled from the United States.4 This is only a small excerpt from the long and complex story of the immigrant in the United States, a story that is not solely limited to Mexican and Latin American immigrants. The immigrant condition is a complex one. It is the story of a displaced and used people, a people brought in to meet needs who are then discarded once they are no longer necessary, not only cast aside and ignored, but intentionally and forcibly pushed away. In the Bible, the issue of immigration shows up very early. In the book of Exodus, the Children of Israel (the Hebrews) arrive in Egypt as invited guests after Joseph has helped the Egyptians survive famine. But after some time, they become slaves, oppressed and exploited by Pharaoh. The word “Hebrew” actually comes from the Hebrew root עבר, “avar,” which means “to cross over.” As Swarthmore College’s Professor Helen Plotkin puts it, “To the people in whose lands they sojourn, the Children of Israel are the ‘Ivri-im’ - ‘the cross-over people.’ To be a ‘Hebrew,’ you might say, is to be a border crosser, to be someone who arrives.”5 “I was a stranger” When Jesus speaks to the disciples about the stranger His words are, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Jesus’ vision could not contrast more sharply with the history of Mexican workers in America, who were brought in, then rejected and forcibly expelled. Jesus says, “I was a stranger and you took me in.” Not, “I was a stranger and you took me in because you needed me; then when you decided you didn’t need me anymore, you kicked me out of your house and left me to fend for myself in the streets.” Douglas S. Massey describes this as a cycle, one that begins with active recruitment, followed by a passive acceptance, which is then followed by persecution and discrimination.6 Such actions seem one-sided–primarily founded in meeting the needs of only one group of people and ignoring the needs of the other group. The feeling of being unwelcome is only increased when on top of that immigrant workers also face episodes of racial and cultural hostility. One example is the way that the presence of the Latinas and Latinos in the United States is sometimes perceived as a
threat. Leo R. Chavez critiques this in his book The Latino Threat as he tries to define “the Latino Threat Narrative.” According to Chavez, some of the basic premises that make up the Latino Threat Narrative include the following ideas:
with you in your land, do not oppress him. The sojourner who sojourns with you shall be like your natives. And you shall love him as yourself because you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord.”10 A Christian reading of the Bible says that the intent for the Latinos are a reproductive threat, altering the demographic immigrant is justice–fair treatment and acknowledgement of their makeup of the nation. humanity. When God speaks of justice, often it is paired with the Latinos are unable or unwilling to learn English. concept of not wronging the sojourner. And when God speak Latinos are unable or unwilling to integrate into the larger so- of injustices, the examples often reference the sojourner being ciety; they live apart from the larger society, not integrating so- wronged.11 The book of Zechariah says, “This is what the Lord cially. Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compasLatinos are unchanging and immutable; they are not subject to sion to one another.’”12 Following that verse the examples of justice history and the transforming social forces around them; they include not oppressing the widow, the fatherless, the poor or the reproduce their own cultural world. sojourner. Latinos, especially Americans of Mexican origin, are part of a But in American society the sojourner is being oppressed in conspiracy to reconquer the southwestern United States, re- a way that is contrary these standards. In part, this is related to turning the land to Mexico’s control. This is why they remain American society’s conception of ownership, which lends itself to apart and unintegrated into the larger society.7 certain spaces and certain rights not being shared. Immigrants in this country face many dehumanizing conditions and situations Another example of racial and cultural hostility is “The His- that reflect what it is to be oppressed, not what it is to be loved. panic Challenge” by Samuel P. For instance, often, immiHuntington, which was printed grant workers are found doing in Foreign Policy four years be“When a sojourner dwells with you in your some of the most difficult jobs. fore Chavez’s book. In the arFurther, they can find themland, do not oppress him. The sojourner ticle there is a short foreword selves in oppressive work spaces who sojourns with you shall be like your under the title, which says, “The where they are vulnerable to persistent flow of Hispanic imexploitation. Patricia Zavella natives. And you shall love him as yourself migrants threatens to divide the gives an example of this in her because you were sojourners in the land of book I’m Neither Here nor United States into two people, Egypt. I am the Lord.” two cultures, and two lanThere: “In a survey with 4,387 guages. Unlike past immigrant Leviticus 19:33-34 workers in Los Angeles, Chigroups, Mexicans and other cago and New York, of whom Latinos have not assimilated 70 percent were migrants and into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political 39 percent undocumented, researchers found widespread abuses and linguistic enclaves–from Los Angeles to Miami–and rejecting such as ignoring the minimum wage, denial of overtime or breaks, the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The illegal deductions, unpaid hours, or serious injuries.”13 When we United states ignores this challenge at its peril.” picture the workspace for the average American, working under Latina and Latino immigrants face accusations of being cultural such conditions would be unimaginable. threats and burdens to the country. This is in opposition to the The use of terms such as “illegal” and “alien” create language that Christian model. Imagine entering a space and hearing that your criminalizes and dehumanizes immigrants of certain citizenship very presence is a threat to a people’s way of life. statuses. It wasn’t until recently that the use of the term “illegal immigrant” was officially dropped by the Associated Press, stating “Do not mistreat or oppress the sojourner” that the word “illegal” should not be used to describe a person.14 There is a history of border control efforts that not only reflect God says to the Israelites, “Do not mistreat or oppress a for- this culture of criminalization, but are also violations of human eigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”8 In other versions, “for- rights. Some examples are Operation Gatekeeper, Operation Safeeigner” is translated as alien, immigrant, sojourner, stranger. In He- guard or Operation Rio Grande, operations which tried to make brew, the word used for “foreigner” is ֵּגר, “gare”, which according it difficult for unauthorized migrants to cross and pushed them to to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon can be more dangerous locations.15 According to Jorge A. Vargas, “[Opertranslated as “sojourner.”9 ation Gatekeeper] ... flagrantly violates international human rights As noted earlier, the word in the Old Testament used for the because the policy was deliberately formulated to maximize the Hebrews means “cross-over people,” a people who have arrived physical risks of Mexican migrant workers, thereby ensuring that from elsewhere. In that way, the Hebrews serve as a prime example hundreds of them would die.”16 of a people who have arrived in a country different from their own. Families also face personal struggles, as children and parents In the book of Leviticus God says, “When a sojourner dwells are continually split apart due to deportations. La Santa Cecilia, a
Swarthmore Peripateo | 28
band from Los Angeles, California, touches heavily on this issue in their song “Ice El Hielo.” The song paired with a music video addresses the effects of U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and deportation. El hielo anda suelto por esas calles Nunca se sabe cuando nos va a tocar Lloran, los niños lloran a la salida Lloran al ver que no llegará mamá Uno se queda aquí Otro se queda allá Eso pasa por salir a trabajar Translation: ICE is on the loose out on the streets You never know when your number’s up Cry, Children cry when they get out They cry when mom’s not coming to pick them up Some of us stay here Others stay there That happens for going out to find work.17
To clearly define an oppressor and an oppressed oversimplifies this complex issue into a more basic dichotomy than it really is. The point is not to assign blame. Instead, the primary call is to recognize and to serve. The Christian model has two aspects: to not oppress the sojourner and to welcome the stranger. To not oppress the sojourner requires recognizing oppression and exploitation, as well as their origins and their results in all their non-black-and-white complexities. And also, through that, to recognize where the hurt lies. It means to not solely identify the systemic issue, but to just as importantly pay attention to the effects this has on the more basic and raw human and emotional level. But there is more: It is also necessary to welcome the stranger, and this means to actively serve – to identify the needs and meet them together. This requires listening and an open sharing of resources. It is not one fight or the other that make up a Christian understanding of God’s vision, it’s both concepts together: to not only fight oppression on the structural level, but also to respond to its most personal effects. An illustration
The book of Leviticus says, “And when you reap the harvest of These excerpts from the lives of immigrants are filled with ex- your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall ploitation and hurt. They illustrate a treatment of the foreigner that you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them is the direct opposite of the vision of justice that comes out of for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.”19 a Christian reading of the Bible, which calls to not oppress the In a culture strongly defined by consumerism, this is a very sojourner. important issue. We live in a culture where we have more than Additionally, the Commission for the Study of International enough, and often, we take more than enough. Sometimes we find Migration and Cooperative Ecoourselves consuming freely, not alnomic Development found that ways considering what it may look immigration is primarily caused by like to leave things for others. We “El hielo anda suelto por esas calles economic need. In 1993, the United just take as much as we can. We reap Nunca se sabe cuando nos va a tocar States passed the North American the field right up to its edge. Lloran, los niños lloran a la salida Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). If according to a Christian readNAFTA was, in part, born from an ing we are supposed to leave some Lloran al ver que no llegará mamá effort to limit the flow of immigraof our crop in order to make intenUno se queda aquí tion through the vehicle of an open tional space to serve and provide for trade system, bringing Mexico into the stranger and the oppressed, the Otro se queda allá a free trade agreement with Canaquestion becomes, what is our crop? Eso pasa por salir a trabajar” da and the United States. Instead, It takes a certain level of self-Ice El Hielo NAFTA led to the importation of awareness to be able to take on that cheaper goods into Mexico, causing issue. It’s a self-awareness that remany to lose their jobs, only further quires an understanding of where increasing poverty and lack of employment. The solution? Migrate. you stand in terms of the resources available to you, and where you Through NAFTA, U.S. policy lent itself to the uprooting and dis- stand in relation to the community around you. placement of Mexican workers.18 However, even this idea is challenging. ‘Leave whatever is on the A Christian reading understands the Bible’s picture of justice as outskirts of your fields for the sojourner or the poor.’ It seems to one in which we do not oppress the sojourner or the poor. When create an image of the sojourner or the poor as only getting what’s the poor are being exploited to the point where they must leave left at the end. In a sense, the “leftovers.” That, in itself, seems to their home in search of provision, only to find a place of further create a power structure that is in some way alienating. oppression, it is clear that such a vision is not being fulfilled. The key thing to remember is that it’s not just about the structural changes. It’s about using the structures as spaces to move forMoving toward the Christian Model: the political and the per- ward. When implemented soundly, structures are not intended to sonal be spaces of oppression; they are intended to be spaces of progress.
29 | The Stranger: Christianity and the Immigrant Story
There is a section in the book of Ruth, which tells of Ruth, a Moabite widow, who arrives in Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi around the time of the harvest. Ruth asks for permission to pick the leftover grain in the fields and then goes on to glean in the fields. Upon seeing what Ruth is doing, Boaz, the owner of the field, reacts. Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Keep your eyes on the field that is being reaped, and follow behind them. I have ordered the young men not to bother you. If you get thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.” Then she fell prostrate, with her face to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?” But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.”20 Boaz not only recognized Ruth’s practical needs for physical sustenance. He also recognized where she was coming from and understood her personal background. He made an intentional effort to learn about Ruth.21 Boaz recognized the difficulty of what Ruth was doing and what she had left behind, and his following actions were shaped by an understanding of those things. It is not only about setting up a system where we ensure people are provided for. It is also about taking a step toward understanding and community through these institutions and what we have to offer. And through that, it becomes a process of moving forward together. A complex process And so through a Christian reading we recognize that the move toward justice for the immigrant, the sojourner, or the stranger is maybe not as simple as we would like it to be. It is not simply one fight or the other. It’s a mixture of the personal, the political, and the structural, and the way that all those complement one another. The Christian viewpoint does not necessarily tell us how to solve all these problems. However, it does tell us how we are expected to treat each other as human beings, and that is a powerful first step. It is a call for empathy and humanization–a concept that is central to the ministry of Jesus. “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” This quote comes from the Gospels, which are based in the ministry of Jesus. When we stop and look at the story of Jesus, we see an understanding of what it means to be a stranger. Jesus–the son of God–came from the realms of heaven to reside in earth, a place that was not His own. And through this we see both sides of this story. Jesus entered into this world and was welcomed by many of His followers. However, He also experienced what it meant to be unwelcomed, enduring maltreatment and ultimately facing crucifixion. A God of empathy. A God who understands the struggle, and
even placed Himself in the midst of it. And a God who encourages all people to do the same. Closing thoughts: a personal reflection During the fall semester, through the help of a class called “Mexican Pennsylvania: the Making of a Transnational Community,” I worked alongside my classmate Ximena Violante in a community in south Philadelphia to teach guitar classes in Spanish. The community and our class was primarily made up of Latino/a immigrants or members of immigrant families. Their experiences and their lives felt like extreme contrasts to the lives we carried out at Swarthmore. Both Ximena and I come from Mexican immigrant backgrounds (thus my personal interest and focus in Mexican immigration), but even with that background, the continual switching between these two hugely different communities–the one in south Philadelphia and the one in Swarthmore–was very challenging. When our guitar class came to an end, as a culminating project, Ximena and I made a music video in response to what we had learned through the class and through our experiences with our students. In the process of writing the song we interviewed our students, and one of the interview questions was to define the American dream. The answer that stuck with both of us the most was when one of our students told us, “El sueño americano es un despertar.” In translation, “The American dream is an awakening.” It’s an awakening. A realization that the opportunities that were dreamed of turned out to be dehumanizing or even exploitative working conditions and that this space was not at all as welcoming as had been hoped. And the realization of that awakening was tainted with a heavy sadness. A sadness that I’ve become more aware of through every one of my interactions with my students and new friends since then. It’s forced me to wonder to what extent that sadness would still exist if perhaps, instead of entering a hostile space, immigrant workers were greeted with a caring acknowledgement of their needs. Or if they received a genuine acknowledgement of the struggle between wanting to be home with their family but also not wanting to be at home and living in a state of need. I recognize that the causes of this
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painful immigrant experience are deep and span far back, and that (Endnotes) it’s not something that can be easily fixed. A comprehensive un- 1 Matthew 25:34-46 (NRSV) derstanding of what makes up the complex story of immigration 2 Although immigration is not the only example of these biblical in the United States, and not just of Mexican or Latin American concepts, it will be the area I will focus on. In our case, an “imimmigrants, would take pages, even books, worth of writing. migrant” will be someone from a foreign country residing in the However, I also recognize that I am a part of a community, and United States. that within that community, 3 This brief history relates isthere are sojourners or strangsues both of migration and imers or foreigners or visitors, and “To clearly define an oppressor and an op- migration. that God has a vision for the 4 “The Past and Future of Mexpressed oversimplifies this complex issue treatment of such people. And ico-U.S. Migration” by Douglas into a more basic dichotomy than it really I also recognize that at times I S. Massey, epilogue to the book have also fallen under that catis. The point is not to assign blame. Instead, Beyond la Frontera: The History egory. of Mexico-U.S. Migration, a colthe primary call is to recognize and to We all play a role in a comlection of essays examining the munity, whether it be our home transnational and historical imserve.” community, the community at pact of migratory trends as they Swarthmore, or another comdeveloped in Mexico and the munity outside of the two. We may not all be intended to closely U.S compiled by Mark Overmyer-Velázquez. partake in the fight for immigrant rights. But it is still important 5 Manuscript of talk on immigration delivered in 2008. that we recognize where in our individual communities strangers 6 Overmyer-Velázquez, p. 251. or sojourners may not be getting the treatment they deserve then 7 Chavez, p. 51. take on these issues with the necessary empathy and compassion. 8 Exodus 22:21 (NIV). 9 Brown-Driver-Briggs, p. 158. In early April tens of thousands of people went to 10 Leviticus 19:33-34 (translation my own). Washington D.C. for a rally pushing for more comprehensive im- 11 Some other examples include Jeremiah 7:5-6, Jeremiah 22:3, migration reform in response to a proposal put out by a group of and Ezekiel 22:6-7 (NIV). senators earlier this year. 12 Zechariah 7:9 (NIV). I had the opportunity, along with five other Swarthmore stu- 13 “Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers: Violations of Employdents, to attend this rally alongside a group from south Philadel- ment and Labor Laws in America’s Cities,” is research by Annette phia through the community organization Juntos. Upon meeting Bernhardt, Ruth Milkman, Nik Theordore, Douglas Heckathorn, with the group in Philadelphia I was able to see some of my old Mirabai Auer, James DeFilippis, Ana Luz González, Victor Narro, friends and guitar students. Then, when we arrived in D.C. we Jason Perelshteyn, Diana Polson and Michael Spiller as cited by were able to march together, standing side by side before the white Zavella in the chapter “The Working Poor,” p. 90. house. 14 http://blog.ap.org/2013/04/02/illegal-immigrant-no-more/ However, during the trip they also looked out for my own per- 15 Zavella, p. 34. Includes references to The Militarization of the sonal needs: they made sure I was well-fed and that I could catch U.S.-Mexico Border by Timothy J. Dunn and Operation Gatekeepthe bus back to Swarthmore in time. It was at that point that I er: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the U.S.-Mexico realized how much I now feel like a part of this community; now, I Boundary by Joseph Nevins. can walk into this community and run into friends and people who 16 Quoted by Kevin R. Johnston in “Open Borders” then quoted I know will take care of me. It was the essence of God’s vision be- by Zavella in the chapter “Crossings,” p. 34. ing lived out. In having come into this community months earlier 17 http://www.notonemoredeportation.com/la-santa-cecilia-elas a stranger and seeing very clearly how I’ve been welcomed, I see hielo/ them living out the very thing that is being denied to them. 18 “Displaced, Unequal and Criminalized: Fighting for the Rights I have been able to experience a community that does not re- of Migrants in the United States” by David Bacon, pp. 7-9. ceive the treatment that they deserve, and instead faces a space that 19 Leviticus 23:22 (ESV). can at times be unwelcoming and exploitative. Yet regardless of 20 Ruth 2:8-11 (NRSV). what has been denied to them, they have treated me with the care, 21 “Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, love and respect that all people should be treated with. This is an ‘To whom does this young woman belong?’” Ruth 2:5 (NRSV). example that we all can learn from. This served as a reminder for me of the way these relationships should be, a reminder that together we can learn to love those we may not know or understand, Yared Portillo ‘15 a reminder to always leave a chair open at the table, and in that way, Yared is a Latin American Studies special seek to live out God’s vision for humanity. r major from Santa Maria, CA. She previously wanted to special major in adventuring.
31 | The Stranger: Christianity and the Immigrant Story
Is Religion a Bad Word?
Faith and the Fear of Commitment By Joyce Ulrich Tompkins
Religion is a bad word these days. Don’t use it in public, in academic discourse or dinner party conversation! – use any four letter word instead, and you will raise fewer eyebrows. It is among the topics we are warned away from, along with politics: and of the pair, religion seems the more polarizing. Students hasten to tell me they are not religious, but spiritual. Parents in my church tell me the same thing, when explaining why they are choosing a hockey tournament over a youth retreat for their teenagers on a particular weekend. My own children, reared in the church by two clergy parents, mostly avoid the topic, although one of them named his favorite cat Jesus. At least we now have a forum for lively christological debate. This semester, at an academic symposium on campus, one of the faculty members noted the etymology of the word religion. It comes from the Latin word religare, which means “to bind.” There was some provocative conversation around the question of the meaning of such binding today, before the discussion went forward in other directions. But I find myself returning to that simple phrase like a hungry dog to its empty food bowl. To bind. Is that what terrifies so many of my contemporaries about religion? That they will be bound – bonded – chained - limited – tied down? In today’s marketplace of ideas and identities, what could be worse than binding? We worship the idea of individual freedom, and choice is our god. The goal today seems to be freedom from any particular belief – and more than that, freedom from any particular form of practice or community. Thirty years ago I bound myself to the structures of my own religious tradition when I took my ordination vows. And of course, every Christian has done the same thing through the baptismal covenant. Like marriage vows, these are conducive to earnest sentimentality in the broad vista of their promises. But there are no
guarantees as to how these vows will be tested in the thickets of daily life and its particulars. Religious life has indeed been like a marriage, covering the whole spectrum of experience: romantic and practical; inspiring and banal; joyful and difficult. It has bound me to a practice that looses my soul in soaring ecstasy and yet incarcerates me within the confines of its daily and weekly demands. It has bound me to a community of people who are, in their particularities, annoyingly and wonderfully human. It has bound me to a God who is at once intimate and mysterious, a dance partner who is forever inventing new steps and expecting me to learn them with no lessons, just faith in the rhythm of his feet. To bind. Yes, that is an apt description of the life I’ve lived within religion. Have there been sacrifices? Yes. Have there been hard choices, surrendering weekend activities and Sunday brunch? No question. Have I at times railed against the structure, heaped up my questions, hurled my complaints against heaven? Absolutely. And in all of this I give thanks. Within that structure I have tested the meaning of freedom. In the letters of Scripture I have looked for answers and found, instead, the space that leads to deeper questions. In that practice, daily, weekly, over many years, I have been whittled and sharpened, formed and transformed. In the rhythm of that dance I have met Love face to face. In the boundaries of that binding I have learned that my soul can fly. r
Joyce Ulrich Tompkins Joyce is an Episcopal priest, mother and campus chaplain at Swar thmore whose chief claim to fame is having once memorized the names of all the Patristic heresies as well as the vegetable preferences of her children in alphabetical order.
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by Zoë Wray
Our lives are filled with stairs.
There are the first stairs that we took growing up in our childhood homes. There is the grand staircase that we walked up to take our first campus tour of Swarthmore. There are the stairs that we ascended on movein day, our first acknowledgement of our life as college students. Then there are the stairs that we descended in Sharples for the first of thousands of times over four years. There are those stairs we hurried up to our first class, teeming with the quiet, pulsating energy of anticipation. There is a “Stairway to Heaven.” And there is a stairway we can take to God. These are the steps of an unbelievably narrow, diminutive staircase to Bond 301, where I started to pray for an hour on Mondays in my second semester. I remember the first time I saw these stairs; they seemed so unofficial and tucked away, I doubted myself and wondered if I was in the wrong place for the 24-hour prayer vigil that students had organized. But I persisted and continued up those steps. Then I prayed for the first time. I actually intentionally, earnestly prayed, humbling myself before God and exposing all my weaknesses before Him. I cried warm tears, in awe of God’s power and the palpable feeling of His presence in that room. God had never seemed as real as He did in that hour that I spoke to Him, all alone in this small, bare room in the dark. That hour changed my relationship with God; I will always remember it as the moment that marked the turning point in my faith, with everything that happened to me characterized as before and after that time that both flew by and lasted a heartfelt eternity. And thus I lost my sense of uncertainty on these stairs, and my feeling of not belonging on them has faded away. As I continue to visit them every week to pray, I climb over them faster and faster, eager to embrace my time with Christ and seek refuge from the world. Taking these stairs gives me the feeling of entering into another world. So when I
33 | Untitled
Untitled. by Zoë Wray (b. 1994). Charcoal on paper, 2013.
drew them, I didn’t try to make them appear realistic for they possess an honesty that exists beyond this Earth. This drawing does not preoccupy itself with worldly representation; as a Christian, I don’t think I should either. While I live on Earth, I am merely waiting until I can ascend up my staircase to my real home with the Father. Yet these stairs are not perfect. They are not sublime. They pale in comparison to the beauty of faith and the beauty of Jesus. But He didn’t mean for them to be without flaw; and as for me, I am hopelessly imperfect. But while I’m waiting for my stairway
to heaven to appear when I reach the end of my life, I can take these stairs in Bond Hall to visit God in my heart. For His love is never uncertain, and to Him I will always belong. r
Zoë Wray ‘16 Zoë, who is studying Ar t History and Studio ar t, vowed at age 5 to dye her hair pink one day. She finally has.
More Than Words A Reflection on Forever Jones’ “He Wants It All” by Tiffany Barron
This is not an aspect of Christianity that Christians like to talk about. We mask it in more savory phrases like “giving your life to Christ.” We sing about it, read Bible verses about it, and even listen to sermons about it. But we are slow to talk about it, slower to give thought to its implications. I’m talking about, of course, the idea of human submission to God. If I had paid more attention to the songs I sang growing up I might have realized sooner the depth and complexity of the concept of submission. Surrendering to God is more than a song, but for many years I did not allow the message to penetrate deeper than the words I sang. It was not until I was in college that I began to feel the full impact of these lyrics. Music itself plays an important role in the way the Christian tradition promotes these ideas, and within the black church gospel music has developed its own unique style. I love gospel’s style; its riffs, runs, and big voices shaped so much of my childhood. For me, my faith and gospel music are so intertwined and connected that I cannot imagine what my faith would be like without the experience of the richness of gospel music. Still, for too long I allowed myself to enjoy the experience of gospel music without being captured by the truth of its words. Enthralled by the music, I did not learn to appreciate the message until much later. By reflecting on the lyrics to one of my favorite gospel songs, “He Wants It All” by Forever Jones, I hope to pay homage to the music that played an important role in my spiritual formation and development. This is a song that I’ve consistently turned to since first hearing it some years ago. Its lyrics continue to have meaning for me, and are a constant reminder of how much God desires of me: He does not want a part of me, but rather all of who I am. The song opens with a depiction of a God walking along the earth, crying out, searching for children who will love Him completely—a striking image that echoes Jesus’ words in Luke 19:10 1 and those of the Apostle John in John 1:10-132. What is particularly poignant about this image is that God is not remote, distant,
“HE WANTS IT ALL” by forever JONES There’s a voice that cries out in the silence Searching for a hear t that will love Him Longing for a child that will give Him their all Give it all, He wants it all And there’s a God that walks over the ear th He’s searching for a hear t that is desperate And longing for a child That will give Him their all Give it all, He wants it all And He says love me, love me with your whole hear t He wants it all today Serve me, serve me with your life now He wants it all today Bow down, let go of your idols He wants it all today He wants it all And there’s a God that walks over the ear th He’s searching for a hear t that is desperate Longing for a child that will give Him their all Give it all, He wants it all Lyrics courtesy of http://www.azlyrics.com/
or emotionless, but actively searching for those who would love Him. This is a God that chose to step into the world, to seek, and to do what it took to save those He created. Furthermore, God wants it all. All means all: our lives, thoughts, words, emotions, choices, dreams, education, relationships—everything. The Bible exhorts us to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness”3 and to “offer our bodies as a living sacrifice.”4 Our lives are to be presented to God as living sacrifices, meant to be continual abandonment of self to His will. With these words, God has laid claim to all we are. The song gives no reason or basis for why God asks for so much, and assumes the ultimate goodness of God’s desire. But the truth and goodness of God’s request for everything, even for a Christian, is not obvious. In fact, I spent most of my life believing that God wanted little more of me than that I be happy. I’d sat in church my whole life singing lyrics such as “I surrender all,” and “I owe it all to You” countless times without giving further thought to the implications of those words. The message of surrender, submission even, had never truly, deeply penetrated my mind: I had completely missed one of the most central and key aspects of Christianity. It is a chilling thought: you can sing words about relinquishing your
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whole life to Christ, and even feel that you believe them, but when you examine your life you see that you really aren’t surrendering much at all. For me, this process of examination really began after I entered Swarthmore. I first heard “He Wants It All” the summer after my freshman year of college, riding in the car with my parents listening to our favorite gospel station. The song’s lyrics did not immediately strike me; rather, it was the beauty of the music itself that first grabbed my attention. But as I heard the song a few more times over the summer I began to pay more attention to its words. That summer in general was instrumental in my spiritual development, as I began to ask myself what it meant to be a Christian and to develop a relationship with God independently of my parents’ faith. I questioned what it meant to call myself a Christian, and what it meant to say that I had “given” myself to Christ. In effect, I was beginning to take seriously the words of the song, that God in fact wanted more of me than I had previously been willing to give. Though the theme of submission to God runs throughout scripture, in some sense these concepts seem so remote to life at Swarthmore, and certainly in the U.S. at large. We value independence, self-determination, and self-sufficiency. We are told and we tell others that when something wants all of us it’s a scam, cult, or just dangerous. When friends give too much of themselves in a relationship we worry about the toll it takes on their emotional health and social lives. All of these things make it hard for us to conceive of how a god could justly require all of a person’s life. And anyone who claims to be completely led by a god must surely be “naive” or “insane” not to recognize that “God wanting it all” is simply a proxy for your church or religion wanting it all from you. But the beauty of God is that life with Him is meant to be a reciprocal, loving relationship. He wants everything because He has first given everything, in creation, in sacrifice, in dedication. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”5 The action of love was first taken by God; we are not meant to make the first step in the relationship, because God has eternally taken those steps for us. The appropriate response to love is love, and as we give love, love is given back to us again. The proof ? After telling us to seek first the Kingdom of God, the Bible promises that “all these things will be given to you as well.”6 The reciprocity of the relationship is more than merely edifying for me; it is fulfilling in the most wonderful way, because it gives purpose to everything I do. Submitting to God’s will is not about giving up things in life; it is about allowing Him to take over and infuse life with purpose, and yes, to realign priorities. It is with this understanding, then, that I began to let go of my “idols.” The word “idol” might bring celebrities to mind, the idols our culture reveres and emulates. But this song illuminates so much more than our misguided choice to idolize celebrities. My idols were those things that kept me from giving all of who I was to God, those things that I continue to look to over and above God in determining how I make decisions. Idols can take the form of the things in life that we love the most and mold our lives according to. They are the things that get in the way of us acknowledging God fully. Again, it goes back to our values. As an American I have been taught implicit and explicit lessons my whole life on what to
35 | More Than Words
order my life around, from family, to education, wealth, acceptance, etc. And while all of these things are good things, they all miss the point. God is, or should be, the point of what I aim for, while the rest are just points along the journey. When they become my main focus, then they become idols. And for most of my life my main focus was anything but God. Whether religious or not, it is a useful exercise to examine our lives and to contemplate what exactly our actions point toward. Why do we do the things we do? What do our choices say about what we value? I think we all live for our personal enjoyment more than we choose to admit. Personally, for a long time I claimed to keep Christ “first” in my life, but in reality I had not learned that true submission does not place my personal enjoyment above all else. My personal enjoyment of life is fine, but should not be my main aim in living. Instead, submission to God should be a realigning of my life in such a way that my priorities become second to His. I have come to the conclusion that if the words I sing point towards God and surrendering to his will then surely other areas of my life should equally point in that direction as well. Of course, this is an ongoing process; I’m still growing and learning and falling short of my ideal. From there, our next question should be, what should we be living for? What are those ideals outside of ourselves that are worth submitting to? For me, I found my answer in the words of this song, to love God with my whole heart and to serve Him with my life. It was almost a relief: after giving so much of my time, emotional and mental energy, and money towards everything else in life, I finally figured out that is so much better to direct these things towards a relationship that gave purpose and fulfillment in return. I found that as I submitted to God I did not lose, but instead gained so much more. r (Endnotes) 1 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 (NIV) 2 “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:10-13 (NIV) 3 Matthew 6:33 (NIV) 4 Romans 12:1 (NIV) 5 Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV) 6 Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
Tiffany Barron ‘13 Tiffany is an Honors Political Science major and Chinese minor who cannot wait to graduate. She likes to eat, sing, eat, read, eat, hang out with friends, and sometimes play the guitar. And eat.
An Active Witness:
Swarthmore’s Quaker Legacy Outside the Classroom by Ben Goossen
As Swarthmore College approaches its sesquicenten- was Helen Magill, the first woman in the United States to earn a nial anniversary in 2014, we are reminded of the visionary lead- PhD. The practice of Collection, which gathered students daily to ership of our founders a century and a half ago. These dedicated discuss issues of spirituality and campus life, taught students to women and men forged a creative learning environment grounded engage their peers with respect and to see themselves as members in progressive social values and committed to outstanding edu- of a unified community. And by adopting Consensus as a decisioncation. As members of the Hicksite movement of the Society of making framework, our founders emphasized the incorporation of Friends, our founders passionately advocated social justice, positive minority voices and the peaceful settlement of disputes. peace, and the belief that all people possess an inner guiding light. These early policies have had a profound effect on the characThey built Swarthmore College upon these foundational values, ter of our institution and the outlook of our graduates. It was the and for the last one hundred and fifty years, these principles have tireless organizing and pioneering nonviolent tactics of Alice Paul, continued to ground and guide our institution. Class of 1905, that helped pass the Nineteenth Amendment to the Today, the vision of our founders is more important than ever. U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote. Other alums Climate change, the spread of mechanized weaponry, and the in- have dedicated their lives to issues like genocide prevention, food equalities of the global economic system make peace, justice, and an justice, racial equality, LGBTQ rights, and environmental protecemphasis on human equality of utmost importance to contempo- tion. Today, Quakerism remains a rich source for community enrary society. Education—and the liberal arts in particular—offers gagement and shared values. It is a platform for supporting peace, a crucial locus for meaningful change, fostering the compassion progressive social action, and the liberal arts. Collection still shapes and understanding necessary students’ perceptions of comto engage injustice, as well as Institutions like Swarthmore have a fundamunity, and Consensus continthe tools to correct it. We must ues to inform campus decisionseize the opportunity presented mental countercultural responsibility. making processes. by college’s sesquicentennial, as Our Quaker legacy reminds well as by the current strategic planning process, to re-envision and us that in the midst of today’s global capitalist monoculture, instituredouble our commitment to Swarthmore’s historic mission. tions like Swarthmore have a fundamental countercultural responA strong history of activism among our founders attests to their sibility. Swarthmore College should be unabashed in its Quaker commitment the Social Gospel. Members of the Parrish, Clothier, values. It should oppose violence in all forms, whether from interBond, Magill, and Wharton families—names that anyone who has national conflict or structural oppression. It should take a strong spent at least a few hours on campus will recognize—were active vocal stance on issues of immigration, the environment, and war. in the abolition movement, and many, including our first president, The college commands influence and respect in the national acaEdward Parrish, were avid proponents of African American edu- demic sphere, and it should throw its weight behind peace witness. cation. Lucretia Mott, perhaps our most famous founder, helped Many Swarthmore students, faculty, and staff associate the colform the American Anti-Slavery Society when she was in her thir- lege with the general “Quaker values” of simplicity, peace, integrity, ties. Two decades later, she was a prime organizer of the Seneca community, equality, and stewardship. But institutionalized examFalls Convention for women’s rights and went on to be a major ples of these principles are not always apparent. Recent speakers on figure in Native American rights as well as anti-war activism. Quaker activism and the recently launched Global Nonviolent AcOur Quaker founders built their vision for social justice and tion Database are certainly steps in the right direction. But more equality into the very fabric of our college. From the beginning, needs to be done. Future action should of course include student Swarthmore was coeducational; among the school’s first graduates and faculty activism, but the college administration should also
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make a bold public commitment. Swarthmore should begin by divesting from the fossil fuel industry. Global climate change will be among the most At Cana pressing challenges facing humanity in the coming decades, and greenhouse On the third day, gas emissions have already unleashed the wedding ran dry – droughts, floods, and superstorms across the globe. Extreme practices like mounwineskins flat and lifeless. taintop removal and fracking threaten lives, communities, and ecosystems in our But I know how you work, own state of Pennsylvania. And as has alhow your hands gush ways been the case with the environmena red that quenches drought. tal effects of resource extraction, it is those least responsible and least able to adapt who will disproportionately confront the by Nathanael Lo ‘13 worst impacts of changing weather patterns. As a leader in higher education, Swarthmore has the opportunity to help change the national debate surrounding climate policy. As a school with strong Quaker values, Swarthmore activism are only has the obligation to act. reversed. r By supporting the divestment movement and other peace and justice initiatives, Swarthmore will reaffirm its Quaker heritage. This will provide immediate benefits for the life of the college by attracting students committed to these principles and by setting an example for our peer institutions. We will foster activism and com-
munity here at Swarthmore, while building relationships and cooperative projects beyond our campus. And as our academic programs and our values converge, they will reinforce each other, improving both our education and ourselves. The brilliant insight of our Quaker founders was that strong values should not simply derive from a good liberal arts education, but rather constitute the framework that undergirds it. Many Swarthmore students, faculty, and staff associate the college with the general “Quaker values” of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship. I believe that to a large degree, the student body already reflects these values. However, I also believe that the administration and most students consider the role of the college to be primarily academic, while values and secondarily important. This dynamic should be
Ben Goossen ‘13 Ben Goossen is from Topeka, Kansas, and is majoring in History and German. He enjoys lumberjacking and hoppy libations.
Josh Gregory ‘15
Michael Superdock ‘15
Josh, from Philadelphia, PA, is an Honors Religion major. He is an avid pilgrim.
Michael is from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania and he plans to major in Computer Science. He takes pleasure in the finer things in life, like bird watching and fireside chats.
Find his piece on page 15 Nathanael Lo ‘13 Nate, from Closter, NJ, is an Honors English Literature and Biology Double Major at Swar thmore. He likes to cook, eat, and talk about food and plays the mandolin sometimes.
Find his piece on page 38
Find his piece on page 13
Maisie Wiltshire-Gordon ‘13 Maisie is from Wilmette, Illinois and is an honors special major in Philosophy and Literature. She does not have any allergies or dietary restrictions.
Find her pieces on pages 13 and 17 Dina Zingaro ‘13
John Sun ‘16 John is from Hockessin, DE and wants to major in Biology and Chinese. He likes learning Final Fantasy music on classical guitar.
Find his piece on page 38
38 | An Active Witness
Dina, from Randolph, NJ, is an Honors Religion and English Literature Double Major at Swar thmore College where she enjoys her embarrassing nickname of “elliptical girl,” rectifying NJ stereotypes, and correcting all non-Greeks on pronouncing “gyro” (yee-roh).
Find her piece on page 25
Pause. Breathe. Think of that.
May the path rise to meet you and surround you with good yet to be done. May your hands grasp onto love and establish peace. And when you are weary, may the Spirit overflow its banks and bathe your feet in grace. Selah