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At the Tufts Humanist Chaplaincy, 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 upcoming small group reflection will be led according to a conversation of anthropologist Ann Dunham, the mother of Barack Obama. It will be on Monday, April 11th, 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!


Stanley_Ann_Dunham_1960_Mercer_Island_High_School_yearbook Stanley Ann Dunham was an American economic anthropologist who researched rural development and global poverty in the late 20th century. She is perhaps best known as the mother of President Barack Obama, whose fame inspired renewed interest in her ambitious academic and social work. In his memoir, Obama described her as “she was a lonely witness for secular humanism” in many of the highly traditionally religious communities she spent her life, and as having a “healthy skepticism of religious institutions” who was “already thinking about things in ways that the rest of us hadn’t.” In 2010, she post-humously the Bintang Jasa Utama, the highest civilian award in Indonesia.

Even Dunham’s academic writings are difficult to find these days, having been lost in an academic ocean that preceded recent interest in her work. Many quotes are attributed to her in Obama and others’ writings. Rather than focus, then, on a particular passage, this week’s we will consider the experience of dedicating oneself to global work, to ceding your passions in support of those close to you, and to a short quote of hers attributed by a colleague:

Don’t conclude before you understand. After you understand, don’t judge.

from Cohen, Roger.