Friday, November 20, 2015

Throwback Thursday ... because it is Friday!

"I am curious how closely you align yourself to the ideals of humanism and existentialism" inquired a student in his email the other day.

If he follows-up with a meeting in my office, he will soon find out that I drive myself--and this guy too--crazy with my thinking and blogging about those issues over and over and over and over ... ;)

How awesome it is to receive an email from a student regarding those issues, right?  A few like that and I can rest assured that the future will be in safe hands.

It seems like I more often than not connect with the sincerely religious than with the secular folks. The first ever student, at the current university, with whom I connected that way was home-schooled in a religious family background.  When she invited me to her sister's "homeschool commencement," I felt privileged to have been included in that.  Knowing my atheism, she included a postscript:
 In all fairness, I should warn you that you'll be mixing with pretty conservative folk, should you choose to attend. And the graduation will be held at our church. So if either of those factors will be too unbearable or uncomfortable. . . [smile]
I went there.  It was the best commencement that I had ever attended.  The event was not about meaningless speeches and boisterous applause for all things trivial.  Instead, it was a heartfelt acknowledgement by the student and the teacher--the daughter and the mother--of the completion of an important stage in one's life, and the role that each played.  I was moved by the experience.

A few months after that, it was about this time of the year--before Thanksgiving.  I wrote an email to the sisters' parents about how their two daughters were simply wonderful.  Over their years at the university, I got invited to many more events at their home, including a wedding.

In life outside of interactions with students, my meaningful associations seem to be with people--the frequent commenters at this blog included, of course--to whom their faith matters.  The man with no faith always hanging around with people who are sincere believers is quite an interesting juxtaposition.  Even I find this particularly interesting!

I wrote back to the student,
Yes, in my atheist framework, I spend a great deal of time trying to understand what it means to be human and to belong to humanity, and to make sense of my existence.  It is a marvelous challenge.  
I hope to figure those out before my time runs out ;)


Ramesh said...

Oh - this is one of your best qualities which is what makes us regular commenters come again and again to your blog. It is possible to debate rationally and interestingly with you even when we disagree. You are always willing to consider an opposite point of view and to be considerate of it even if you reject it. That's a very rare quality. That's why its no surprise if you hand out with people of faith. Bravo .

What sort of a student asks "I am curious how closely you align yourself to the ideals of humanism and existentialism" ???? He should be saying "Yo Khe; you're nuts" :)

Anne in Salem said...

I don't see that faith and humanism, in its purest and original version, have to be mutually exclusive. Humanism seems to have evolved into a more secular philosophy than it was originally, but if one defines humanism in appreciating the value of humans and human contributions and equally valuing rational thought and critical thinking as opposed to blind acceptance of faith, it is possible to be humanist and a person of faith. Just as citizens must question their leaders and study to understand the past in order to understand the present and work toward the future, people of faith must understand their faith. They must study and question. "Why" is as important a question in one's faith as it is in one's life. Faith without understanding is empty and pointless.

Perhaps you enjoy the relationships with those of faith because we supply an endless source of respectful debates and because we each learn from the other - a trait of unsurpassing value.

Sriram Khé said...

Well, hey, the credit is due to all the believers who willingly include me in their lives, right?

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, a big thanks to all you folks.

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