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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!

On Celebrating Holidays

Holidays, literally “Holy Days,” evoke myriad images and memories in our collective consciousness. Christians around the world are in the midst of a series of holiday celebrations as we mark the transition from the old year to the new year: Christmastide began on December 25th and ends on January 5th, ushering in the season of Epiphany, which lasts from January 6th until Ash Wednesday (in the Western Christian tradition), this year marked on Wednesday, February 26th. The secular West also celebrates the new year on January 1st, but really the bulk of the celebrations of this holiday happen on New Year’s Eve, December 31st, saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming the new year at the stroke of midnight with feasting, toasting, kissing, making noise, and general merrymaking.

What is it about human nature that propels us to set aside specific days or periods of time for merrymaking, commemoration, remembrances, or other forms of marking sacred time in the midst of our ordinary lives? Every religious tradition celebrates its own holidays, so deeply ingrained are they in our collective human consciousness. Because the modern West has been so thoroughly shaped by the Christian worldview, most of the holidays we are aware of track Christian commemorations, even if the religious significance of those days has been all but lost. Christmas and Easter are the two most prominent holidays of the Christian religious tradition. In the Jewish tradition we find a number of significant holidays throughout the year, including Passover, Yom Kippur, Rosh HaShanah, and Hanukkah. Muslims fast each year during the holy month of Ramadan and celebrate the feast of Eid to mark the end of the month of fasting. Hindus celebrate Holi and Diwali and many other holidays. Buddhists marks the Buddha’s birth each year with the celebration of Vesak. Sikhs celebrate the foundation of the Khalsa at Vaisakhi. Wiccans and Neopagans celebrate the turning of the year at the solstices and equinoxes with Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lammas, Mabon, and Samhain.

Every religious tradition commemorates and celebrates its own holidays, days or periods of time set aside for religious devotion, commemoration, dedication, or remembrance. Holidays are times set aside as special and they often include specific foods, rituals, worship, gatherings, and other acts of devotion and commemoration to mark these high points of the year.

Holidays remind us of our calling above and beyond the drudgery of our daily lives. They call us to a higher purpose, a reminder that the human spirit transcends the quotidian details of our regular routines. Holidays are times set apart for family, for special food and drink, for reconnecting with our neighbors and friends near and far, for recommitting ourselves to our deeper vocations as religious people, for lifting us beyond our daily lives to appreciate the sacred mystery that surrounds us always and everywhere. Holidays remind us that our everyday lives are shot through with divine meaning and significance, however we might understand it. Holidays offer opportunities to rise above our daily drudgery to experience the peaks of religious significance in the midst of our everyday experience.

Whatever holidays you happen to celebrate, wherever and whenever you celebrate them, know that your celebration is infused with the divine reality and that your celebration compels you to manifest the blessings of your tradition in the wider world. May all of our holiday celebrations radiate outward in an eternal sanctification of our daily lives for the benefit of all beings.

What holidays have special significance for you? What traditions do you observe in connection with these holidays? Please share your reflections in the comments below.

Discovering Vocation

by Ben Martella 

My internship with the Center for Faith and Vocation was the first time that I had the opportunity to sit down and dissect the term vocation. I had always thought of the word and the concept of vocation as a solely religious term that would have no value in my agnostic philosophy of life. My internship through Catholic Charities challenged that thought and has since open my mind and heart to many things in the world. The CFV provided me with insight and guidance in navigating this vocation. I can say with conviction; I have gained many valuable lessons ranging from professional experience to spiritual exploration as well as community building with my internship through the CFV as a whole.

My internship experience centered around the work of Catholic Charities under the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. I want to be frank in saying that I do not agree entirely with the Catholic church, nor do I agree with some actions taken by the Archdiocese. Nonetheless, the experience sincerely changed my view of religious affiliated NGOs as well as the people that work for them. The people are undoubtedly some of the kindest and hardest working individuals. They devote hours of their time in a career that values service over everything. My contribution was working with refugees in education and acculturation. Essentially, I taught English as a New Language (ENL) classes as well as helped to develop curriculum for refugees in connecting to American culture and adapting to the community. It is an understatement to say that it was easier said than done. This proved to be one of the greatest gifts and challenges of this internship. I have developed an even deeper sense of love for the world and the people that derive from it.  I have realized that once we take away commonalities like language and culture, there is still so much humanity we can use to connect with one another.

My experience this semester has caused me to reflect on my goals and aspirations for the near future. I have always been serious about Peace Corps and have since set my mind to applying and realistically going as soon as graduation commences. It is something that I feel as though I must fulfill and have identified it as an opportunity to help to foster what will ultimately become my vocation.

by Alaina Hanke

Working at the Expungement Help Desk for the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic has been a very positive and eye-opening experience. I work face to face with people who have experienced the injustices of our criminal justice system, looking for a second chance to change their lives around. The system does not give people this opportunity because, although they served their time, the punishment continues on as they are unable to find jobs, apply for housing, apply for welfare, and much more. The vast majority of people coming to get their records expunged are grateful, positive, and happy, even when they had a challenging life story or an unjust experience. The hopeful attitudes of the people who come for expungement has stuck with me the most because of their ability to persevere and remain positive through such tough and unimaginable circumstances. This has caused me to really reflect on my vocation because it has shown me what my true interests, motivations, and passions are. It has led me to realize that I want to take my future in a direction that helps people, specifically with mental health within the prison system and with prisoner reentry. I have learned that doing direct work within the community and with people is something that is important to me because I want to be there to listen to someone’s story when other people may not have listened, I want to give people the benefit of the doubt, I want to help people change if they are ready to change, and I want to be a support system for those that need it. This internship has shown me how so many people’s lives have been ruined by our criminal justice system, rather than repaired, but expungement gives them the chance to repair it. At my internship, we created a poster that poses the question of “What will you do with your second chance?” We laid out cards so that people can write what they want to do with their new shot at life since their record won’t hold them back anymore. The responses are great and so many people have big plans for their futures. It is such a great thing to see every day when walking into work, knowing that I could help someone live the successful life that they deserve.

by Grace Langford

I worked at First Congregational United Church of Christ as the Just Peace intern. First Congregational Church passed a covenant last January to become a Just Peace church but wanted to know how to fully embody their Just Peace covenant better. Therefore, they decided to hire a Just Peace intern. In August, I decided to make the challenging career decision to change from actuarial science to management consulting. When I started my internship, the lead pastor, Pastor Sarah Lund, was so kind to allow me to set up my internship like a management consulting engagement, thus allowing me to have hands-on experience in my new field. I read many books about management consulting as well as about just peace while attending church and meetings with the First Congregational congregation.

One of my favorite parts of the internship was conducting informational interviews, a fancy management consulting term used to describe getting to know and gather information from people. I enjoyed coffee and lunch with many incredible people with fascinating life stories and a genuine heart for people. In addition, I collected data from surveys and spent ample time at the church getting to know the ins and outs. On my last day, I presented an hour presentation to the congregation with three actionable changes that reflect the feedback and church’s desires.

Another highlight of the internship was attending the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare Conference at Princeton Seminary. Eighty religious leaders gathered to be educated and to learn how to educate others on the injustice of drone warfare. I so enjoyed the opportunity to talk to so many people from different religions, faiths, communities and geographic locations in the United States. While we were all so different, we united on justice and advocating against drone warfare.

This internship allowed me to look at vocation in a new light. For one, I had the opportunity to test out a new career and discover my love for it. At the same time, it allowed me to see the multiple facets of vocation to discover it is not just tied to the job title of our employer. Instead, it is a lifelong commitment to work and to bettering the world around us. I saw this beautifully displayed in so many retired members of the congregation who had different careers but work dutifully for the church and to serve the Indianapolis area. Overall, this internship has been integral not only in my liberal arts education, my career, but also my personal growth this semester. Thank you to the CFV and First Congregational for your support and engagement!

Last Thursday, on the last day of All in Week, the CFV partnered with the Center for Interfaith Cooperation as well as the Spirit and Place Festival to screen the latest film in the New View Series, “Backs Against the Wall: The Howard Thurman Story.” 

This film explores the life of one of the most important religious figures of the 20th century, Howard Thurman. Thurman was the grandson of slaves, and eventually became a spiritual leader for the Civil Rights Movement. He also inspired many influential Civil Rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr.

The film also discussed how Howard Thurman was a Mystic, and had a great respect and interest in nature, non-violent social action, as well as learning about other religious traditions. He famously traveled to India in 1936 in what was known as a “pilgrimage of friendship.” While there, he visited Mahatma Gandhi who was also advocating for nonviolent action.

In the spirit of Thurman’s interfaith work, Thursday’s event began with three prayers from Butler students of different religious traditions: Buddhist, Christian, and Hindu.

After the event, the audience was treated to a panel of two local religious leaders who knew Howard Thurman himself, Reverend Brown and Bishop Roach. They discussed Thurman’s hypnotizing, slow, and deliberate way of speaking, and how he was such an important figure in influencing the Civil Rights movement.

Audience members joined the discussion to reflect on Thurman’s influence, and how his ideals and values can be applied to social justice issues today.

Thank you to everyone who attended the film screening and participated in the discussion! We hope to see you at our next film, “The Many Storeys and Last Days of Thomas Merton—By Morgan Atkinson” on January 23. The film director, Morgan Atkinson, will be attending our event and will be hosting the discussion afterwards.

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