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sdane's picture

Religion as a force of good/tool of evil

As I started de la Cruz, I was immediately reminded of Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” as both writers were able to address an enemy with supposed kindness and respect, only to subtly rip them apart.  While de la Cruz and Machiavelli were being politically prescriptive in very different ways – and with very different objectives in mind – de la Cruz’s exploit of the power and fear of god mirrors how Machiavelli argued religion is used in the larger societal context (e.g, to convince men to risk their life in war, because they will be going to heaven). 

In the case of de la Cruz, she was being told that she shouldn’t be writing because the Church didn’t think it was appropriate for women (a nun!) to write about the topics that she tried to tackle.  But she then threw the religious excuse right back, explaining that “God graced me with of a gift of an immense love for the truth…. God Almighty knows why and for what purpose. And he knows I've asked him to snuff out the light of my mind and leave only what's necessary to keep his commandments.”  How can anyone argue with God’s creation?  de la Cruz makes her case by drawing from scripture.  “I see a Deborah issuing laws in military matters as well as political affairs while governing a people among whom there were so many learned men…I see so many  significant women: some adorned with the gift of prophecy, like Abigail; others with persuasion, like Esther; others, with piety, like Rahab; others with perseverance, like Hannah.”

sara.gladwin's picture

Reflections on Prayer

I have many different feelings about prayer.

On one level, it’s a representation of something I’ve stepped away from. For a little over a year, I was the youth representative on my Presbyterian Church’s session, which is the governing body of the church. It’s a lot like our government. Session meets regularly to discuss whatever current issues are brought before them. There are committees delegated to handle particular issues, and there are committees to delegate each committee. For the entire time I served on session, I did not speak a word. I showed up to meetings, I filled a chair, and I listened patiently to each debate. I watched friends become hostile and impatient with each other. Over the course of the time I was a session member, I watched several other members abruptly resign and leave the church. I was angered by the way money and finances seemed to poison the conversation. The contention that seemed to accompany each meeting, little by little, soured my relationship with the church and I chose not to participate.

Sharaai's picture

Prayer? whaaa?

So with Thrusday’s Silence class came along some “prayer” and when Anne was talking about the activity we were going to do, I could not help but begin to feel a little anxious. And if I can recall correctly, I remember mentioning that in class. Anywho, I just want to reflect on why exactly I felt that way. I think a lot of it has to do with my apprehensions with religion. and I don’t think that these apprehensions really have to do with the idea of religion versus an actual type of religion. The class activity went better than I expected, even though I found myself asking a lot of questions during the praying section and not necessarily having/getting any answers…

couldntthinkofanoriginalname's picture

Can we have another day of praying?:( Puh-leeezeee?

I enjoyed reading about Professor Beard and Sister Chittiste because they completely shattered stereotypes for me. When I think of a nun, I think of a very quiet, reserved and hidden (dress and location-wise) woman who spends most of her days reading the bible. This image is a little extreme and even though I knew that it was not entirely true growing up, I had nothing to challenge it. So I was surprised to read that Professor Beard doubted her relationship to God and her faith well into adulthood and I was VERY surprised to read about Sister Chittiste's activism and to hear her describe our country so well in the context of sin and belief.

Michaela's picture

Silence in listening

I was really intrigued this past week by Jen Rajchel's visit, especially the silent exercise that she led us in, "Tattoo Parlor". It was a really cool way to learn more about Sasha, and to think about what kind of visual image would best represent her, and so I enjoyed it from a playful (ha) perspective. But I also think that it correlates more fully to my ideal of silence--one in which you spend time actively listening to another person, to music, to the world around you--and not so much focused just on not talking. I don't mean to say that I think the silences that we have started (or ended, in some cases) our class with have not been valuable, just that I appreciate that we are moving beyond the notion that everyone must refrain from speaking for it to be a "real" silent activity. 

My word this week from our exercise at the Cannery was "listen". I really value it when others actively listen to me, and I am working on becoming the best listener that I can be, with my friends, family, the larger world (BMC and otherwise), and even myself, and listening to my own needs. I really enjoyed the teaching exercise that my group planned in Jody's class on Thursday, encouraging people to partner up and listen silently while another person told a story about their adolescence. These kinds of exercises can help us all become better listeners, and truly engage in what our partner is saying, similar to in the Tattoo Parlor game. 

Sarah's picture

separating church and school

The thing that struck me most about the last reading was the writer's devotion to God and how she understood this devotion to be essential to learning.  I'm so used to "separation of church and state" that being asked to "pray" as part of our class on Thursday caught me off guard.  As someone who is not religious, I wasn't really sure how to pray or what to expect in response if I don't believe there is a God.  At one point she discusses how difficult it is to learn from text alone rather than a teacher and says "yet I suffered these trial most gladly for the love of learning.  Oh, if only this had been done for the love of God, as was rightful, think what I should have merited!" (53).  I think this is so interesting because the general message I receive on Bryn Mawr campus is that learning for the sake of learning is one of the best/most admirable attitudes to have, but the writer of this piece is left feeling guilty for her personal love of learning because she feels as though she is being selfish and giving proper respect to God.  The writer's tone of humility or even unworthiness also struck me; she states "all that I have said can do no more than other that letter to you in recompense for the failure to apply myself which you must have inferred (and reasonably so) from my other writings." (45)  I wonder if this tone has to do with her religious beliefs, or her gender.  From what I gathered, she seemed highly educated and this was written at a time when women didn't have much access to education.

Owl's picture

The Self, the Other, the Silence

"Competing tendencies reside in a state of simultaneity: they are always at the same time separate and united, this and that...the Self is always at the same time both itself and other"-George Kalamaras

During our last silence exercise of our class this past week, I found myself pushing back on the silence. I found myself constantly wanting to analyze and critically think of Kalamaras' words in relation to silence. I found myself asking: "What is the goal of silence and how much of how silence is perceived, fueled by the "other" that the self "competes" with in a state of simultaneity?" I then found myself wondering whether the individual self has as much to do with how his/her silence is perceived. Can the self manipulate his/her environment in order to fuel her silence in a positive way? if so, what is necessary for this to happen?  

Uninhibited's picture

Religious silence

In our last class I was very struck first by our readings, and then by the last part of our class. It was the first time that I realized the difference between how Quakers and Catholics pray. When I go to church, it is usually accompanied with music, sermons, speeches, and lectures and just words in general. Words words words. Music music music. Even in silent prayer we're not silent because the priest leads us. This is very different from our practice on Thursday where we were each in charge with connecting with whatever it is that we wanted to connect with it. I find it very interesting that the Quakers sit in silence and wonder what such spiritual experience would feel like, to be in charge of making your own connection with God. 

Anne Dalke's picture

also some quotes

...from yesterday that I don't want to forget:
"Just because they have life doesn't mean their life stops."
"What do I get by telling others that they are stuck?"
"Nobody's homework is done."

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