Feed on
Posts
comments

A Space to Be Brave

by Janet Lovera, ’23

Grappling with existential questions is hard, and it can seem even more intimidating in a room full of 20 other students. What do you say? How do you say it? Should you say anything at all?

The answer becomes clear when you step into an environment encouraging unique perspectives. You share your truths and respect the truths of others. You listen with your heart and learn from the viewpoints everyone brings.
This was the place I found at Brave Dialogues: Interfaith Edition amongst a group of students, all from various religious backgrounds, sharing their thoughts as I learned more about my own.

The beauty of events like Brave Dialogues is they become a safe space for you to grow and even find your own voice, without any pressure to do so. We didn’t all agree as we discussed and reflected on life’s biggest questions. But it was okay because we didn’t need to, this was about more than that. This was about our humanity and how our different perspectives bring us closer together, not farther apart.

We didn’t leave knowing all the answers, no not even close, but we left with something even more important. Understanding that our own perspectives make us human, we’re not so different after all, and that’s the beauty of life.

by Janet Lovera, ’23

When troubling times come, and the fire to fight against the odds burns bright, we look for ways of expressing the emotions that dwell in our hearts. Cultural movements become the catalyst of creation, the basis from which expression is born, and brings back hope into the lives of those who might have otherwise lost it.

Music is art and it comes from the soul; it allows for the voice of one to become the voice of a hundred. A song’s melody breathes air into the lungs and wraps itself around the heart to keep the spark alive. When I saw the film How Sweet the Sound: Gospel in Los Angeles, I will admit I knew nothing of the genre. Despite this, what I felt while listening to the clips of gospel singers stayed with me long after I began to forget the dates. It was warmth and understanding, the community that was found in the songs inspired by the times. But there was also hope, the emotion driving their voices was the belief in a better tomorrow worth fighting for.

We sung our way through history,” has never felt so relevant. There is continued tension, times are changing, and I can only hope it’s for the better. Just as the gospel singers of Los Angeles sang to express themselves during troubling times, we must also find the way to free our emotions from within. Yes, we must fight for what we believe in, but it is just as important to understand how these times are affecting us mentally and emotionally. We must find our own way of singing through history because without it, we may begin to lose hope. There is still so much work to be done, milestones to achieve, it is time for us to find our community that will help us succeed.

 

 

By Alaina Fleming, ’23

This semester, I had the great privilege of fulfilling an internship position through the Center for Faith and Vocation. I specifically served Catholic Charities Indianapolis Immigrant and Refugee Services as a Youth Mentor Intern, and this internship could not have come at a better time for me. With all the personal adjustments we have had to make to our daily lives due to COVID-19, I am indescribably grateful for the opportunities and experiences I gained from this internship. I was afforded the chance to speak with some youth refugee clients, and these conversations will forever remind me of the resilience and grit of the many refugee families in the United States.

Throughout my internship journey, I developed a more compassionate heart for all those who have fled their homes and their countries to seek refuge in another location. They must uproot their lives to find the freedom or safety they are being denied. I have come to appreciate the organizations and people that serve this vulnerable population, especially Catholic Charities Immigrant and Refugee Services. This organization advocates for policies that protect family unity and allow newcomers an opportunity to contribute and participate more fully in their communities. CCUSA provides immigrant and refugee families with the housing, employment, education, mentorship, and support they need to adjust to their lives in an unfamiliar country.

Even though the needs of a refugee family are often considered collectively, parents have vastly different experiences than teenagers and young adults. Refugee children, especially those who do not speak English, have difficulties transitioning to American schools; they serve as translators for their parents, even in mature or private conversations; they often are responsible for helping their parents and younger siblings adjust to American customs and lifestyles. So, in order to better understand the unique challenges that this age group endures upon resettlement, I began creating a youth mentorship project that analyzes the commonalities among youth experiences and finds new ways to make this transition less burdensome in any manner. The youth clients that I had the privilege of speaking with presented astounding courage and determination, and these informative conversations will serve as the foundation for creating a program that caters to their specific needs.

This internship has presented me with a new, empathetic perspective and has allowed me to glimpse what life is like in Indianapolis for refugee families. I am very appreciative for all the conversations and opportunities that this internship has brought me, and I will forever hold these experiences and relationships near to my heart.

by James Ewing, ’21

During my time at Butler, I have felt the pull of two distinct but related passions: engaging with philosophical and faith-related questions through academic research, but also engaging with the community directly and living out these questions. Before the internship, I had some experience with both outlets through my capacity as philosophy major and my role as the president of Butler Meditation. Significantly, however, both of these involvements had resided within in the so called “Butler Bubble” – I was engaging with research and the community within the university and campus setting.

Through my internship with the Center for Interfaith Cooperation (CIC), I had the opportunity to get out of the Butler Bubble and engage with the broader Indianapolis community. Initially, I helped out with big CIC projects like the Festival of Faiths and Interfaith Digital Dialogues, an experience that exposed me not only to different people but different ideas, religions, and traditions. After these projects wrapped up about halfway through the internship, I was left to my own devises to engage the community and become a leader. This was harder than I imagined it would be. Unlike the university setting, where there are a variety of resources, advisors, and programs that are more or less prearranged for emerging campus leadership, this is usually not the case in many “real word” and non-university contexts. Rather, at the CIC I found that it was up to me to reach out to people, create a plan, and fill essential roles and spaces.

The culmination of many weeks of planning, recruiting, and coordination was a successful program of which I was the primary organizer. With the help of several community leaders like Tony Wiederhold, Ian McIntosh, and CIC director Charlie Wiles, I put on an outdoor mindfulness and meditation walk that saw participation from Butler students and Indianapolis community members alike. The fruits of the program (which exceeded my expectations by far) included a restorative and meaningful meditation which allowed participants (including myself) to mindfully connect with ourselves and each other in the midst of a contentious and anxiety-filled social, political, medical climate.

I am grateful to the CIC for giving me the opportunity to grow and become a more assertive leader in the Butler and Indianapolis community.

 

by Delaney Beh, ’23

My time at Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic this semester as their Expungement Help Desk Intern has been nothing short of life changing and has certainly been a highlight of this odd year.  This opportunity attracted me because of my future career aspirations.  At this time, I personally feel called into the field of chaplaincy, with criminal justice being a topic particularly heavy on my heart.  Factoring in these considerations, this internship seemed like the perfect combination of those passions, as well as a great way to discern if this type of work is what I am truly being called to do.  After completing the internship, I can say that it has only strengthened my desire to pursue a faith/justice based profession!

NCLC helps members of the Indianapolis community navigate a variety of legal situations at no cost and my job specifically dealt with aiding people through the process of criminal expungement.  Expungement provides individuals with criminal records a second chance, making it in most circumstances as if they were never criminally charged at all, so they are able to obtain employment, housing, education, etc. without discrimination.  Normally, my internship would have taken place at the Project Grace Help Desk, located in the Indianapolis City-County building, but since it is currently closed due to COVID, I completed the vast majority of my work remotely.

A typical workday for me would start with appointments.  These were initial phone calls that gave me the opportunity to ask questions that help determine exactly what a client needs and if they are eligible for expungement at that time.  Based on these phone calls, I would then spend the second half of my work day drafting the official petitions for expungement that get sent to clients for them to sign and file with the court.  I know it might sound boring to some, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Most of the folks I talked to on the phone were lovely and were surprisingly honest about what they had been through in their lives.  These conversations were certainly a high point of my experience because it was clear how grateful people are for the opportunity to clear their record and that showed me just how big of a difference I was making in the lives of others.

Overall, my internship experience has been amazing and I certainly recommend working with NCLC to anyone with a passion for faith, criminal justice, and/or the Indianapolis community.  The staff at the clinic is wonderful and they were very patient and kind while I was learning how the law works and how to draft petitions from home.  Working with them this semester has been extremely impactful and I am thankful for the opportunity to have made a positive impact in other people’s lives.  I am also thankful for the skills this internship has helped me develop.  Initially, I had a lot of anxiety around talking to strangers on the phone, but being that that was an essential part of the job, I am happy to say I have gotten over that fear.  This internship changed my life and offered me a new perspective on what life is like for many people right here in Indianapolis, and for that I am most grateful!

by Kate Fulton, ’22

On Thursday, October 15, 2020, A Virtual New View Film Series, co-sponsored by the Center for Faith and Vocation and the Center for Interfaith Cooperation and in partnership with the Efroymson Diversity Center presented the film, I Am Not Your Negro, to the Butler and Indianapolis community. Through the lens of connecting the Civil Rights movement to the present moment, the film explored and challenged the definition of what America stands for.

So what does America stand for? How would you define our country? Lately, during this increasingly divided and polarizing time, it seems as if we don’t know who we are or where we are going. There are many people yelling at one another, causing anxiety and unrest. We seem fractured, broken and don’t know where to turn next. Fortunately, we have the power to change things. As the film suggests, it is entirely up to us to face these challenges, embrace one another and move forward in a way where all people are seen, heard, valued and loved.

I was also profoundly moved by a quote from the movie that said, “we as individuals and society members are weak in our ability to deal with the world and ourselves as we are.” Are we honest with ourselves and those around us? This quote has challenged me to look inward and reflect upon the areas of my life where I am not as vulnerable or authentically myself, not only identifying them, but working to improve myself in that way. I challenge you to do the same.

Ultimately, the film calls us to ask ourselves how we as individuals and members of society are going to show up. What are you bringing to your community and world around you to better move society forward and create a more inclusive, equitable and accepting space for all people?

 

by Lauren McCartt

Let me preface this by saying that I wasn’t really looking for an internship this semester; I didn’t need one for my major and I was already the proud owner of four jobs.  I was looking to get through the semester with my sanity and maybe a little bit of free time.  But this opportunity sort of fell into my lap and I would have been crazy not to take it.  I was also probably a little crazy to take it, since that put my count at five jobs, but I digress.  It was important to me that I do this.  It seemed like something that really mattered.

This semester I worked with the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic at their Expungement Help Desk in the city county building.  It was, and I say this without exaggeration, perhaps one of the best experiences of my life.  I’ve always been interested in the criminal justice system, and my internship gave me such a diverse perspective on law and justice.  My dad is a police officer, so I’ve always heard about his work.  I, like many other people, indulge in TV shows about crime and the police officers who solve it.  But I was also interested in the justice system from another angle.  Through my sociology classes and a general awareness of the problematic ideals on which our country was founded, I knew that criminal justice didn’t always equate to real justice.  I wanted to help people who were dismissed or condemned by our system and learn about the ways we could fix it.

My internship gave me exactly what I wanted.  My job was to work directly with people who were trying to clear their criminal records.  Essentially, the expungement help desk fills out the necessary paperwork for people to submit to the prosecutor, asking that their record be expunged.  Everyone I talked to was so kind and grateful, and it was wonderful to feel them get so excited about their future prospects.  So many people were able to go back to school or advance their careers, and that was amazing to see.  It felt like I was doing something that mattered, something that made a difference.  I’ve been fairly vocal about how I feel about the criminal justice system as a whole, and I have had a pretty critical stance on many things.  Being able to work with the NCLC put action behind my words; I was no longer shouting into the void about injustice.  I was helping real people.

The tail end of my internship did not end how I expected.  Unfortunately due to COVID-19, the help desk closed and I had to work remotely from home.  My boss was able to send me client information that had been given to us before the outbreak, and I was able to do paperwork for these people, but I did not get to interact with them.  I’m very grateful I was still able to work, but I certainly miss the interpersonal part of the job so much.  I love hearing the stories of the people who came to the desk, and being able to laugh and joke with them was amazing.  I can only hope that the desk opens up soon, because I would love to continue to volunteer my time there.  I am also considering creating a simple website with some clarification on Indiana expungement matters.  The forms to file for expungement have just been made public online, but they can be pretty confusing at first, and I would love to give people a guide on how to fill everything out and assemble the forms so they can go through this process themselves.  Even with the complications that arose because of the pandemic, I loved working with the NCLC.  It was truly a life-changing experience.

by Layne Wright, ’20

As I was approaching my final semester as a Butler Bulldog, I knew that I wanted an internship that would diversify my skills, challenge my abilities, and that would be a great overall experience. While searching for internships, I never thought to look at the CFV for opportunities, but finally stumbled upon it after a recommendation. Through its internship program, the CFV had led me to one of the most formative and amazing experiences I have had at Butler.

This past semester, I have been the Marketing Intern for the Jewish Community Center of Indianapolis. The J has become a place that I love and am now passionate about. This is all because of my supervisor, coworkers, and the numerous opportunities they have given me. Beginning on my first day, my supervisor and Director of Marketing, Lisa Waite, made it known that this internship was for me. She explained that this internship is here to develop my current skills, add to my abilities, and develop me as a professional. Because this was constantly our focus, Lisa was always giving me new tasks with pretty big responsibilities. She even tasked me with creating the poster and other marketing materials for Earth Day at the J, which is one of the biggest events at the JCC.

But once Lisa noticed my interest was in Human Resources, she switched gears completely. Due to the purpose of the internship, Lisa gave me new tasks that would help me gain valuable skills and experiences needed to enter the HR world.

Although this semester has brought many changes, cancellations, and uncertainties, my internship at the JCC has been a place of stability, positiveness, and constant opportunity. As the semester comes to an end, I will be graduating college with so much more experience and skills because of my internship at the JCC. The J, and the people within it, has become a place of hope during these uncertain times.

by Olivia Bradley

Working at First Congregational United Church of Christ was the highlight of my semester. My position was the Just Peace Intern which relates to the covenant the church made to the national Just Peace movement that focuses on connecting with the community, learning about the connection between faith and advocacy, and working to alleviate injustice in the community and nationally. Before starting my internship I had recently declared my Social Work major, and this opportunity gave me a hands on experience of working with an organization and helped me learn more about community organizing. From my first day at the church I felt so welcomed by everyone, and the support from Pastor Sarah and the Just Peace team was amazing. Through Adult Education and worship each Sunday I was able to get to know the congregation and learn about their dedication to outreach.

Since this was the second semester First Congregational has had a Just Peace intern, I had the ability to be creative with the projects I worked on and could help establish practices that will continue in the future. I got to share about my trip to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, help organize an immigration vigil for a teen who was killed at the Southern border, and attend the annual meeting which resulted in the passing of the WISE (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, Engaged) covenant which is concerned with raising awareness for mental health. One of the biggest projects of the semester, and something I really enjoyed, was creating an educational Bible study during Lent about immigration that was then discussed in small groups.

We had plans for the remainder of the semester that included connecting with the organization Faith in Indiana, organizing a Break the Silence Sunday which creates an open conversation about sexual violence, and a trip to Washington D.C for a national Eumenical Advocacy Days conference. While it was difficult to see these plans postponed or cancelled because of COVID-19, it has shown me the importance of flexibility and also the perseverance of the church as we continue online worship. This internship helped me connect with the community, explore my passions, and was a valuable experience for my education. Thank you First Congregational for the support and opportunity!

 

 

On Thursday the 23rd, we had our third New View Film screening of the year: “The Many Storeys and Last Days of Thomas Merton.” This film screening was special in that the director, Morgan Atkinson, was able to join us from Louisville to introduce the film and hold a Q+A afterwards.

Thursday’s screening was also exciting because it was one of the most attended film screenings yet! The subject of Thomas Merton drew countless community members, and the Eidson Duckwall Recital Hall was filled to capacity.

The film follows Thomas Merton, a renowned American Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, and social activist among other achievements, during the last year of his life in 1968. During this time, Merton embarked on a great adventure– he traveled around Asia meeting with spiritual seekers and learning about other religious traditions.

While in Asia, Merton met with the Dalai Lama and built a friendship with him. The film featured many interviews with Merton scholars and those who knew Merton, but the interview Atkinson was able to film with the Dalai Lama was particularly captivating.

The Dalai Lama described that he and Merton had a lot in common, and after Merton died unexpectedly, he felt an even greater responsibility.

After the film, Atkinson provided some insight into the process of making the film– particularly on his interview with the Dalai Lama. Atkinson said he was allowed to have a 5 minute interview with him, but when the Dalai Lama heard he was going to be talking about Merton his face lit up and he ended up speaking for 10 minutes longer than scheduled.

In the discussion and Q+A following the film, audience members compared the turbulent time of 1968 with today’s political climate, and reflected on how Merton’s life and work still serves as inspiration today.

 

Join us for the next film!

The next New View Film in the series is called “Crazy Wisdom: The Life and Times of Chogyam Trungpa—By Johanna Demetrakas, 2011.” It tells the story of a Tiebetan mindfulness teacher who was one of the first people to bring mindfulness to the West. Chogyam Trungpa and Thomas Merton also met each other in 1968 while Merton was traveling through Asia. The film will be on March 25th at 7pm in the Eidson Duckwall Hall. We hope to see you there!

Older Posts »