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At the Humanist Chaplaincy at Tufts, we hope to foster a comfortable environment for people to engage in honest discussions around the challenges in their lives, and to explore how people outside traditional religion approach questions that many faith traditions engage regularly. Our day to day lives, on campus and off, can be challenging just as they are exciting, but we don’t always have a structured hour in the week to sit down and reflect on the way we’ve grown, and the lessons we can learn from the experiences of others.

At small group reflections, the Humanist in Residence facilitates an open, respectful, and confidential conversation around a chosen theme that concerns and informs many of our choices and experiences in our life journey. The conversation is rooted in a text (or other piece of culture) written from a Humanist perspective that engages the theme, and from there will be open to the perspectives and experiences of everyone present in the group. Those present are encouraged to bring pieces of culture that inspire their own values on the theme, including and especially those from other faith traditions.

The first small group reflection of this year will explore stories, led through a pair of quotes from Canadian writer and activist Margaret Atwood. It will be on Monday, September 14th, at 9pm in the Interfaith Center downstairs meeting room. Small group reflections are open to all members of the Tufts community, irrespective of anyone’s belief background. Light refreshments will be served!


young_2645727cMargaret Atwood is an award-winning author, poet, and activist from Ontario, responsible for some of the most celebrated works of science fiction and speculative fiction in the 20th century. Her writing explores relationships–among humans, between humans and animals, between life and nature and the rapidly changing technological landscape–and from her respected platform she calls for literary freedom and environmental justice. In 1987, the American Humanist Association named her Humanist of the Year.

As a new year begins, some of us returning to the Tufts community and others coming for the first time, new chapters of our lives are being written. To inspire a conversation on how our changing lives can fit into meaningful stories–or not–and how finding ourselves a part of stories might be empowering, we turn to two quotes from Margaret Atwood’s fiction works:

“All that anxiety and anger, those dubious good intentions, those tangled lives, that blood, I can tell about it or I can bury it. In the end, we’ll all become stories. Or else we’ll become entities. Maybe it’s the same.”

Atwood, Margaret. “The Entities.” Moral disorder. Emblem Editions, 2010.

“When you are in the middle of a story it isn’t a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. It’s only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else.”

   Atwood, Margaret. Alias Grace: A Novel. Anchor, 2011.