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By Julia Bluhm

On Thursday, September 5th the Center for Faith and Vocation kicked off its annual “A New View Film Series” with the film Dakota 38. Dr. Courtney Mohler, who is a professor of theater and a person of Native American descent, began the evening with a land acknowledgement and also lead the discussion following the film. The discussion after the film was particularly memorable– a diverse number of community members shared their reactions and engaged in thoughtful conversation.

The film Dakota 38 addresses issues of injustice within the Native American community both historically and in the context of present day. The film is named for a tragedy that occurred in 1862, under President Abraham Lincoln. 38 Dakota men were hanged in what is still the largest mass execution in American history.

To honor those killed in this tragedy, there is an annual 330-mile horseback ride from Lower Brule, South Dakota to Mankato, Minnesota to arrive at the hanging site on the anniversary of the execution. The film follows the men, women and children who participated in the ride, from showing the harsh blizzard conditions they rode through to the kindness they experienced from local inhabitants who housed them on their journey.

Another big part of the film’s focus was the institutional genetic depression and epidemic of suicide among the Native American community. Native Americans are 10 times more likely to die of suicide than any other population. This epidemic is caused by the historical attack on Native American culture, suppression of Native American identity, and theft of land. These factors lead to extreme poverty, drug addiction, and mental health problems. For decades, Native American children have been sent to boarding schools that prohibited them from practicing religious rituals or displaying any part of their culture. This is just one example of the nation-wide attack and suppression of their culture.

One especially impactful part of the film, which came up a lot in the discussion, was that at the very end of the film it was revealed that several of the young men who had participated in the ride had died of suicide before the film’s release.

Community members compared the discrimination of Native American people to the deep-rooted discrimination of African Americans in this country. Several people also expressed surprise at the fact that Abraham Lincoln, a man celebrated for the abolishment of slavery, signed off on the execution of the Dakota 38. One community member, who is a Native American from Indiana, shared his personal experience with the epidemic of suicide in his community.

The film screening of Dakota 38 was educational but also incredibly eye-opening due to the emotional responses of the audience. If you feel inspired to help this cause, consider writing to your government officials and asking them to prioritize funding for mental health programming for Native communities.

by Maggie Kieffer

When I walked into the first day of my internship with the Project GRACE Help Desk, I was just kind of thrown into the work. Over the course of the semester I have had the privilege of helping some really patient, kind, wonderful people; and when I had to deal with someone who was less kind or less patient, I took a deep breath and realized how incredibly overwhelming that first day learning about expungement was for me. And I’m a college-educated adult who wants to go into this profession. I always try to think about the process from the perspective of the person on the other side of the desk. These individuals – often African American men and women or poor white individuals – made mistakes within a system that doesn’t always work in their favor. Often times, I have heard stories about men and women who were charged with crimes because of their economic status or race, rather than on the credibility of their character. I have even seen black men come in with the same crimes as white men, but charged with higher level convictions on a first-time offense than a routine white offender. I have been confronted with errors in the system I want to enter professionally for the rest of my life. And, now that my semester is over, I am faced with the fact that I am one step closer into being a part of the system. This mentality of looking at a legal problem from the accused persons’ or convicted persons’ eyes is something that will forever impact my life, and I have this internship with the CFV and Help Desk to thank for that.

by Rachael Jacobs 

Over this past semester I had an internship with Catholic Charities teaching English to refugees. For this blog post I have decided to talk about the part of my experience that was both the most rewarding and the most challenging. About halfway through the semester, as I wrote one of my journal reflections about my time at work so far, I thought that my biggest accomplishment was, both at that time and what I thought would continue to be, watching the academic growth of my students. I could not have been more wrong. While being able to watch my students become more fluent was rewarding, it was nowhere near as rewarding as noticing the differences in the way my students looked at me day to day. It was nowhere near as rewarding as picking up on the ways in which our conversations about life outside of class evolved day to day. It can be hard for me to make connections like this with people within my own comfort zone, let alone those from another culture and language. But the barrier that I thought would be ever-present between us got knocked down after the first day. That is what was so rewarding for me: not only being able to impact their lives outside of class time, but the ways in which they impacted my life as well. The largest lesson that I learned from this was how similar we all really are. All of us want to be loved and accepted, no matter where we come from, the color of our skin, or what language we speak. This is not to disregard the differences that exist, however – those are just as important. It is through these differences that we are able to learn more about the world and the ultimate experience that everyone both shares and holds uniquely at the same time. In this way I was successful and in this way my experience was the most memorable.

 

 

by Julia Bluhm

My communications internship at the CFV this semester not only helped me build my communications skills, but it helped me better understand my own sense of vocation and what kind of career I’m interested in.

Aside from gaining tons of experience in graphic design, social media marketing, and making continuous social media campaigns, I also learned a lot about interfaith cooperation. In preparing for the film discussion I hosted for The Heart of Nuba, I researched about conflicts in Sudan and had the opportunity to meet with Mastora Bakhiet, the director of the Darfur Women Network. It was eye-opening to hear more about life in Sudan from Mastora, a Sudanese Muslim woman, and to hear about all the struggles the Darfur people have been through. While we talked over pizza, I offered to help her with a video she was making. A week later, I was sitting in her living room and transcribing Arabic translations for the video. I know that if I hadn’t been an intern at the CFV, I probably would not have been so inspired to research conflicts in Sudan, and I probably never would have ended up in the living room of a woman who’s culture and background is so different from mine. I am extremely grateful that I did though, because this is just one example of how my internship helped me become a more open and educated person.  Interfaith and cross-cultural conversations can be slightly uncomfortable at first, but they are essential. I have put myself out of my comfort zone several times through my internship at the CFV, and every time I felt grateful afterwards for the experience. I want to keep doing this as a part of my future career in the non-profit sector.

Luckily, I have been given the opportunity to return in the fall as the CFV’s communications coordinator, so I will be able to stay involved. I look forward to continuing some of the social media campaigns I have started, such as featuring student leader profiles on Instagram and making our social media more photo-based. I also look forward to continuing to expand my interfaith understanding and to be as involved in CFV programs as I can.

 

 

 

 

Students and Speakers at the Pre-Seminar Supper

Last week the Butler Seminar on Religion and Global Affairs on the topic of Sacred Places: Intersections of Religion and Ecology, held its final session, titled “Greening Indiana: Theologies and Ethics of Sustainability.” For the past year we have approached the work of ecojustice from a number of religious perspectives – Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu – and methodological angles – sociology, biology, film, literature, politics, economics, philosophy, and theology, among many others. In this last session, we trained our focus on local efforts toward sustainability and ecojustice right here in Indiana, with the guidance of three fantastic speakers: Lisa Sideris, Dori Chandler, and Jessica Davis.

Lisa Sideris is Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University in Bloomington and her research and teaching focuses on intersections of religion, science, and ecology. Dr. Sideris emphasized the need for a “public theological conversation” in which multiple perspectives (religious and secular) are welcomed in order to expand our vision of the health and wellbeing of the planet and what we can do in our local communities to address the environmental crisis. Dr. Sideris invited us to consider how our roots in a particular place and community have shaped who we have become; these roots provide our entrée into the work of ecojustice. However, as a culture we have a collective case of “environmental amnesia,” as each generation becomes accustomed to the status quo as “normal,” despite the environmental devastation we observe all around us. Paying attention to the history of our places and the changes that have occurred over the generations reminds us that human activity sometimes drastically alters a place and its ecology, compelling us to marshal every resource available to us – scientific, political, economic, social, historical, and religious – to address the environmental crisis, which is the defining issue of our time.

Dori Chandler is a board member of Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light, a member of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, and Director of Interfaith Programming and Advisor of Hillel at the Butler Center for Faith and Vocation. Dori draws inspiration from the rabbinic notions of tikkun olam (“repairing the world”) and bal tashchit (“do not destroy”) to inform her environmental activism. Together with Dr. Sideris, Dori shared some startling statistics about the environmental crisis here in Indiana: Indiana ranks #46 in air quality in the US, #48 in overall quality of life, and #1 in the number of coal ash ponds and super-polluting power plants. Dori’s work with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light brings together Hoosiers of diverse backgrounds and religious and ethical commitments to lobby for legislation to address these environmental problems and to forge a new path toward sustainability and ecojustice in Indiana and beyond. Almost 80% of Hoosiers identify as religious, which means that any substantial change of course must include religious voices in order to be effective. HIPL is on the front lines of organizing religious communities to make the connections between religious faith and environmental activism, with inspiring results.

The last speaker was Jessica Davis, Director of Sustainability at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Jessica works with students, faculty, staff, administrators, and community partners to adopt and implement sustainable practices on the IUPUI campus and in Indianapolis. For example, IUPUI is a certified “bee campus” and “tree campus,” has seven LEED-certified buildings (and is constructing three more), has a student-run effort to combat food waste that in one year salvaged 30,000 pounds of food, and recently hosted the first Olympic trial in history that produced zero waste. IUPUI is doing good and important work on sustainability and is training its students to be environmentally-conscious citizens. In her talk Jessica took time to define some common terms for the audience. She defined sustainability as meeting the needs (not wants) of the current generation while at the same time allowing future generations to meet their needs as well. She further suggested that the key to successful sustainability efforts is meeting three related needs: successful sustainability efforts will be environmentally-friendly, socially just, and economically feasible. Her work at IUPUI embraces each of these goals with impressive results that are an inspiration to other institutions in the region.

The environmental crisis is urgent and it is doing real and lasting damage, here and now. We are in the midst of an existential crisis that will require drastic measures to address. In this session we were invited to find hope, empowerment, and energy for the work that lies before us. There is good and important work being done here in central Indiana in myriad ways, large and small, to address the environmental crisis and to create a better, more sustainable, more just future for us all.

The full video of the lectures and the Q&A with the audience is available here:

Brent Hege

CFV Scholar in Residence and Lecturer in Religion

 Source: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

One of the roles of the Center for Faith and Vocation is to invite students to engage the diverse religious communities on campus and in the community. The CFV Interfaith Council and CFV Scholars embrace this opportunity for interreligious engagement as central to their mission, but the CFV also offers workshops, lectures, film discussions, and other opportunities for engaging with religious diversity. This semester I am teaching an upper-level Religion course called “Religious Pluralism” and our focus is on the various ways Christian theologians have thought about religious diversity and the relationship between religious traditions.

In my role as CFV Scholar in Residence I work with the CFV Scholars to help them reflect more intentionally on their encounters with religious diversity; as a Christian theologian one of my tasks is to make sense of religious diversity from a Christian theological perspective. Religious diversity itself is simply a fact: there are multiple religious traditions in the world and even on Butler’s campus. But Christians and other religious people have disagreed about how to make sense of that diversity in light of their own religious commitments. In my course we start the semester with an introduction to these questions, Paul Knitter’s Introducing Theologies of Religion. In this helpful book, Knitter (a Roman Catholic theologian) proposes four “models” Christian theologians have used to make sense of the relationship between Christianity and other religious traditions.

The first model is Replacement, or “exclusivism.” In this model, Christianity alone is true and all other religions are understood to be false and misguided ways to God. Only Christians can be saved, so in this model the goal of dialogue is conversion. This model is typically espoused by conservative evangelical and fundamentalist Christians.

The second model is Fulfillment, or “inclusivism.” In this model, Christianity alone possesses the fullness of truth, but other religious traditions can also include glimmers of God’s truth. Non-Christians who devote themselves fully to their tradition and who seem to live holy and grace-filled lives are considered to be “anonymous Christians.” Jesus Christ is the sole savior of the world, so if anyone is saved, they are saved by Christ, but in this model Christ can be active outside of Christianity. This model is typically espoused by Roman Catholics and mainline Protestants.

Replacement and Fulfillment are the dominant models in most Christian churches, at least in terms of their official teachings. However, two additional models are becoming more popular, especially in Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant circles.

The third model is Mutuality. In this model, all religious traditions are understood to be the product of particular cultures, each responding to the Ultimate Reality with the help of the language, concepts, customs, and worldview of their respective cultures. All religious traditions are assumed to have “rough parity” and all are assumed to be headed toward the same goal of union with Ultimate Reality. Each tradition uses different symbols for that reality and develops different doctrines, rites, texts, etc., to make sense of it, but all religious traditions share the same essence and the same goal. This means, then, that no religious tradition can claim to uniquely possess the final and ultimate truth. A common metaphor for this model is that all religions are paths up the same mountain. The goal of dialogue in this model is to develop a deeper understanding of what all religions have in common.

The fourth model is Acceptance. This model developed in response to the Mutuality model, which some theologians criticized for ignoring or downplaying the genuine differences between religious traditions. Acceptance theologians emphasize the differences more than the similarities: the religions are really different, and that’s a good thing! Some Acceptance theologians even suggest that there are multiple “ultimates,” multiple “absolutes,” and multiple “salvations.” Furthermore, each religious tradition can only be fully understood on its own terms, from the inside, because each religious tradition has its own thought-world and its own symbol-system that can’t be “translated” without losing something essential. The goal of dialogue in this model is to develop a richer understanding of these differences in order to make me a better Christian and you a better Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, etc.

Each of these models has its strengths and weaknesses (as all models do), and each model tries to balance what Knitter calls the Christian “teeter-totter” of the uniqueness and particularity of Jesus Christ on the one side and the universal love of God on the other. Each model approaches the “teeter-totter” differently, and other religious traditions will try to balance their own “teeter-totters” in similarly diverse ways.

These four models invite us to think deeply and seriously about the reality of religious diversity while also trying to make sense of the truth claims of our own religious tradition in light of that diversity. For some, one of the models will strike us as doing a particularly good job of balancing that “teeter-totter,” while for others none of the models will be successful. It’s very possible that additional models are needed to help us live fruitfully and faithfully in a religiously diverse world.

Brent Hege

CFV Scholar in Residence and Lecturer in Religion

by Madeline Mleziva, ’21

This semester I have interned as the Center for Faith and Vocation’s Communications Intern. This Internship has given me the opportunity to experience many programs on campus and learn many new skills. My favorite part has been the chance to work with and assist many different outreach programs. Typically, my main means of assistance has been through creating posters and flyers for the various programs sponsored by the CFV. While I didn’t coordinate and plan an entire program, it was exciting to have the ability to have many small impacts on a variety of programs. One of my favorite projects was creating the posters for the First Friday at Four. I enjoyed this project so much because I also got the opportunity to attend the event each month and see all the people that came. Seeing the people attend was exciting because it became evident that my marketing and design efforts were paying off. My other exciting project has been creating a video to promote the new prayer, meditation, and reflection rooms in Jordan Hall. This project has proved some difficulty in getting students to answer emails and follow up. Even though it has been difficult to gain much assistance from students, it has been very exciting to have the creative freedom to create any sort of video I want. The video is still in the production process but hopefully it will be finished and online soon. Overall, this internship has allowed me to refine my design and production skills while also giving me the opportunity to participate in many different programs and outreaches. I’m very thankful for all the opportunity and experience the CFV has awarded me this semester.

 

by Kylene Warne, ’20

As an Elementary Education and Theatre major, my internship at Catholic Charities proved to be a unique and profound experience. I served as an Education intern through the Outreach and Education program and was in charge of planning and leading English classes held and two different community centers two days of the week, as well as providing in-home tutoring one day of the week. Because my courses are focused on child and teenager education, I have not had the opportunity to work with and teach adults. This internship was able to provide me with this experience that came with its perks and challenges. At first, I felt hesitant and unsure, as I did not know how to approach this age group and alter my lesson plans to fit a more mature audience. After the first few lessons and getting to know my students better, I was able to see what learning preferences this group had and how willing they were to learn and try new approaches. I now feel more comfortable and confident teaching all age groups, as well as in myself as a teacher. Since I had so much freedom to create a curriculum and had not finished my Education major yet, I originally felt as if I was doing everything wrong. I quickly realized how much knowledge I had acquired throughout my classes and other teaching experiences and that I do not need my license in order to help and make an impact on a community of people. I am so thankful for my bosses and students for allowing me to experiment with this learning journey and being open to all of my ideas.

by Lyla Iannaconne, ’19

This semester, I have been fulfilling an internship at Trinity Free Clinic in Carmel, IN doing marketing.  The clinic is a catholic, non-profit organization with a mission to provide free medical and dental care to uninsured and underinsured people in the Hamilton County area.  Not only do they want to provide these services but also provide them with an unparalleled level of respect, kindness, and dignity.

My role at the clinic this semester has been deeply intertwined in their annual fall fundraiser, the Run for Wellness.  The Run for Wellness is a 5K, 10K, and 15K race. The event includes the race and an expo where sponsors and vendors can promote their products and services. I’ve gotten the opportunity to run the social media for the race, promote the event, and manage the race day.

Not only did I receive experience in marketing but I also got to feel what it’s like to work in a wonderful, welcoming organization.  Every person working at the clinic is genuine, friendly, and happy to help with any problem.  I am so grateful that I got to know and work with my supervisor, the director of marketing, Autumn Zawadzki.

Thanks a million to TFC!

by Marissa Glantz

Interning at the JCC was a good way to dip my foot in the water in regards to the professional world and the internship world. I gained a lot of valuable hands-on experience in the marketing department. As the marketing intern I got the opportunity to work on a variety of projects. One thing I learned throughout my time here is the value of teamwork in a workplace. Having coworkers who I could collaborate with and rely on was extremely beneficial in my learning process. When given projects by my supervisor, there were some times where I had little questions or needed guidance in finding particular files and my colleagues were always happy to assist me. Another thing I learned was the business side behind social media ads. I obviously knew that my Facebook and Instagram had ads that were targeted directly towards me, but I got to be on the other side of that process and create ads and target them towards a particular public. This was really cool to see all of the features, options and statistics that go behind ad tailoring. It definitely assured my interest in the creative advertising field.

Throughout the second half of the semester I worked a lot on the Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts marketing. The social media posts I did for the JCC gained a lot of publicity for the festival that showed through the number of tickets purchased. . I enjoyed getting Facebook users to interact through the various postings. It was fun to do something I normally do (post on social media) but from a business marketing side. Overall, thanks to this internship, I feel like I will be more comfortable and confident as I move forward in my career.

 

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