Strange Dinner

This week has been pretty laid back. It’s crazy to think that there’s only one more week until reading week. Last term, it felt like it took forever to get there and this term it seems like it’s coming a month early! Before I know it, April will be here, classes will be over, and I’ll be writing my dissertation full time. Sort of insane. Anyway.

Last Saturday, we had a board game night with some people from church. It was a grand time (good craic). There was also delicious food, so that was obviously a bonus. We played Cranium–which was a trifle tricky with lots of non-native English speakers– and this weird German card game about beans. It was called Bohnanza (which is punny because bean in German is Bohn) was it was literally about planting and harvesting different kinds of beans. It was surprisingly difficult for a game about produce, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Hopefully we’ll be having more game nights, we just barely scratched the surface. Catan is waiting in the wings.

Tomorrow, our program is having a murder mystery dinner. I’ve wanted to do one for years and years and I’m absolutely ecstatic. The setting is a 1920s jazz club and my name is Eugene Goldberg. I won’t say any more than that. But it’s going to be terrific, I’m sure. Very exciting. I’m not sure if I’ve been able to convey how much I’m looking forward to it. A lot. I can hardly contain myself.

Also, here are some pictures of my brother’s cat who is awesome. I rarely get to see him in person (and he hides from me when I visit) but he’s very cool.

Cooper2016-2-18-1Cooper2016-2-18-2

How can you not be cool when you pose like that? Snuggly cat pictures are my favorite. I feel like I can virtually snuggle with them. And it makes everything better.

Not much else to report from here, so I’ll move on to thoughts from this week.

A friend recently wrote a post about heretics in which he describes an exhibit in a museum which presents various theologians and philosophers as having dinner together and explaining their various ideas (you can read his blog here). If it had been reality, it would surely have been a strange dinner indeed. The post (in accordance with his blog in general) was really interesting and got me thinking about who we listen to. Typically, we think the worst of our enemies and the best of our friends. But my educational journey has time and again reiterated how important it is to think critically about everything, even (and perhaps especially) things you agree with. This course at Trinity has built on that idea, but expanded it to thinking critically not only about ideas but also identities. Who am I? Who are you? Who are we? Who are they? These are really socially charged questions that have a lot behind them. Thinking critically is crucial and is often abetted by listening. It’s like that little rhyme: “There was an old owl who lived in an oak; the more he saw, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard. Why can’t we be more like that old bird?”

I once read a collection of short stories about mythological half-humans–centaurs, selkies, birdmen, and the like. In the forward, the editor said these stories lift up a strange mirror, revealing to us the dark as well as wondrous aspects of being human. I do not think, though, that such creatures are necessary (as fascinating and wonderful as they are). We can learn plenty from the people people who surround us every day. People who are like us, but not quite. So I challenge you to have a strange dinner. Eat a meal with someone different from you and listen. Listen honestly, openly, and earnestly. Hear what they have to say. Listen actively and think critically. Speak yourself but little. Gaze into the strange mirror of another face and learn what you can.

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