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Starting the 2020-2021 Academic Year The Center will post all of its newsletters here. Please enjoy the center blog reflections from the 2019-2020 academic year also below.
The Center for Religious Wisdom & World Affairs provides newsletters once every three weeks, in which we highlight curricular content, ongoing scholarship, emerging resources, and a demonstrated commitment to: university faculty and staff colleagues, ecumenical stakeholders, religious traditions and spiritual pathways within the three stated public’s of the Center.
Phone: (206) 495 - 5226
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Amanda Gorman, the Poet Laureate for the January 20, 2021 US Presidential Inauguration, enacted her poem, ‘The Hill We Climb,” with images that encourage a country to hold a mirror up close to the face of our collective well-being. This is the labor of poets and poetry, to use words and silence both, and as Gorman demonstrated, to utilize the performance of one’s arms in motion and pause, as a means of drawing in the public’s moral imagination for its future.
A word on Wisdom. Wisdom is true when it heals the world. The wisdom within religious traditions and spiritual pathways are intended to assist or heal the world, because wisdom is always outward-looking from what it brings deep within. Often, this is how wisdom feels in our own lives. Wisdom imparts, it seeks, it invokes, it heals.
Do you hear a protracted public sigh after this U.S. presidential election? When I informally query colleagues, friends, neighbors and students this week, about how they feel in the post-election gloaming, each response is preceded by a noticeable exhale. Their responses to me reveal how cleaved we feel right now – “weary perseverance”, “anxious hopefulness”, “frayed determination”, and more. The sinews of our body politic are stretched and injured. Not to be put down, these are the forces that initiated a public blowout at the polls.
In describing their shared lives, early Christians in Asia Minor could use the word – oikonomia. Today that word is akin to our expressions on the vibrancy of a household, seeking unity in relationship to one another and to God or the Transcendent. Recall earliest memories of a family or community gathering, and the sound of shoes scurrying across wooden floors and the pranging sound of a screen door opening and drawing close. A household can be a loud place, filled with energy.
The spread of the virus COVID-19 has truly disrupted our way of life, and it will surely continue to do so, even after this pandemic is over. For all of us, the life we enjoyed attending classes and spending time with our friends came to an abrupt end. And, for some of us, it isn’t all that bad; we still get to stay in the comfort of our homes, enjoy daily meals, and still get education from our respective schools. However, not everyone has this luxury of a relaxing break to stay at home.
I’ve been thinking about this question – ‘does gratitude to God make sense today?’ – following the deaths of three close friends in these past three weeks. At a Center dedicated to the wisdom of religious and spiritual traditions across the world, it helps in times like these to ask the most important questions in the clearest possible form. What do we make of gratitude to God in times like these?