06 11 / 2012
I’ve been dean of religious life at Smith College since 2001. I’m not sure that makes me an Expert anything. I spend my days trying to be useful. To observe, listen, ask questions, try things out and try again.
When I was in college, I had a pretty haphazard approach to research. Armed only with a topic assigned by my professor and a hunch about how to answer it, I’d head to a section of the library, maybe with a catalog number or title scribbled on the back of my hand - a result of preliminary efforts.Once I located the desired volume, my eyes would stray to the title on its right, and then the one below, and before long I had an armful of books I wasn’t looking for.
Many of my sources did not make it into the final essays and I was often frustrated with my lack of efficiency. I have come to learn that I traded efficiency for the pleasure of looking at something from many points of view.It was deeply satisfying to immerse myself in the conversation across time and cultures. Those armfuls of other people’s ideas changed not only my essay answers, but also my questions and at times, my choices.
Today — still — I seek multiple sources to give me direction when I am figuring out a problems or answering a question: as mundane as what to say at a Smith College Convocation or a deep moral problem presented on a November ballot.
Here at Interfaith Matters, I will mostly write about interfaith approaches to everyday problems and questions. Because of my upbringing and education, Christian language, ritual, and scriptures have formed and inform me, but there are many more books on the shelf when I go searching. I’d like to reflect on and explore “interfaith thinking.”
I am interested in exploring the idea that an interfaith life is a legitimate “faith life” — not an impoverished shadow of a real (legitimate) spirituality but a rich, interesting, and valuable way to draw close to God, to others, and the world.
I look forward to the conversation.